By Greg Petrie, District Representative, Northwest
We recently attended the memorial service for retired Village Missionary Cliff Anderson. Cliff and his wife Mona served 6 communities in rural North America with Village Missions from 1968-2000 (Charlos Heights, MT; Paskenta, CA; Cottonwood, ID; Meadowbrook, OR; Fernwood, ID; and Prescott, WA).
A Life Lived in Rural North America
Like many Village Missionaries, Cliff did not originally plan on being a pastor. Cliff grew up on a family farm outside of Spokane in an area called Foothills. He went to school there. He met his wife Mona there. One of his best friends became his brother-in-law. He intended to spend his life on the farm.
In 1951, Bill and Kathryn Mai were the first Village Missionaries sent to Foothills Community Church. They began to disciple Cliff and Mona. Later, other Village Missionaries such as John and Marion Duckworth also invested in their lives.
Pointed to Service in Rural North America
One day, Cliff saw an insert in the church bulletin saying, “Village Missions needs you to serve in rural North America.” Cliff felt it was pointing right at him! Consequently, they left the family farm and moved to Portland. Cliff attended Multnomah School of the Bible. In July 1968 they began serving at Charlos Heights, Montana. (Interestingly, Charlos Heights is currently served by Village Missionaries Del and Coleen Abbey—-the son-in-law and daughter of Cliff and Mona Anderson!)
At Cliff’s memorial service, several pointed out that Cliff was just “an ordinary guy.” The strength of his ministry was his willingness to go where people were. He met them in the barn or the field or underneath a pickup truck. Cliff used his background as a farmer himself to minister to farmers, ranchers, and people used to getting down and dirty. Cliff could minister to them in their world because he came from their world.
Potential in Rural North America
As I mentioned, many Village Missionaries did not originally intend to be pastors serving in rural North America. Many started out as farmers, mechanics, carpenters, loggers, teachers, even lawyers and law enforcement or military personnel. Yet, each one heard and responded to God’s call: “Village Missions needs you to serve in rural North America.” Many did not have the training and equipping needed, so committed to getting equipped at a Bible School or through a program such as the Contenders Discipleship Initiative.
My story parallels Cliff’s. I, too, grew up attending Foothills Community Church—though about 25 years later. People such as Village Missionaries Keith Potts and Jerry Kennedy and Associate Pastor Doug Hollums ministered to and discipled me in that church. God called me away from my career as an auto mechanic become a Village Missionary.
You may be wondering, can God use me, a __________, as a Village Missionary pastor to serve him in a rural community in North America? Yes, he can! If he has called you, he will equip and prepare you. He will use your individual experiences and talents to help us in our mission to revitalize country churches!