Untitled Document

 'Lighthouse' MCFs


 2009-08-12 오후 2:23:00  3117
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Lighthouse’ Military Christian Fellowships

A paper for the AMCF Seoul Council 2009 written by Homfray Vines


The purpose of this paper is to provide a basis for discussion at the Council on the concept of ‘lighthouse’ MCFs.


The concept of ‘lighthouse’ is a new one, which was not discussed at either the Sunbury Council 2002 or the Seoul Council 2004.  It was proposed as a concept for the first time at the Southern Africa Regional Conference held in July 2005 in Gaborone, Botswana.  The conference report stated: “Several MCFs in southern Africa have accepted the responsibility of being ‘lighthouses’ – MCFs which will help other specifically designated MCFs in their region to establish and expand[1].”  The concept was seen to be helpful in bridging the language gap that existed in the region and sharing the ministry load more broadly.  It might also help meet the specific vision for their region – that, by the year 2010, all 14 southern African countries would have a constituted MCF and a chaplaincy.

It was further discussed at the region’s meeting during the Pan-Africa Conference (Nairobi, September 2008).  Here it was confirmed as being a good concept, but: “It was acknowledged by all that this concept needed to be revisited in earnest in order to become effective.”  The ‘lighthouse’ MCFs in that region are envisioned as Zambia, Mozambique, Madagascar and South Africa.

The AMCF Manual Model for MCF Ministry

The AMCF Manual[2] has been evolved to help new and young MCFs start their ministry.  As such it is a very helpful document.  The model it has adopted revolves around the AMCF VPs and support organizations helping start the new MCFs.  In the Manual there is no concept of them receiving help from other MCFs or the more mature MCFs having a ministry in the foundation and development of younger and smaller MCFs.

The importance of the role of the more mature MCFs in the development of the movement is completely absent from the document.  Only in Chapter 4 does the MSO recognize its relationship to the MCFs in Korea (P4-3 para 9).  ACCTS USA and Accts MMI make no reference in their chapters to the support they receive from their own national MCFs.  In the latter case the support of the UK MCFs is significant and vital to its existence.

Mature ‘lighthouse’ MCFs could and do provide models for others to follow, a base for AMCF conferences and a source for prayer and financial support to the AMCF and its support organizations.  Should they also be encouraged to go out to visit in their regions?

Deliberations at Seoul Council 2004

At the Council, Bob Reifsnyder presented the paper “Meeting Together[3]” which was well received.  After discussion the Council accepted the recommendations of paper.  These were to: “de-emphasize worldwide conferences, continue with regional conferences and place emphasis on sub-regional and national conferences.”  Major emphasis was to be placed on small local groups meeting together regularly and meeting together ‘electronically.’

In addition major emphasis was to be given to ‘Paul and Barnabas’ type missionary trips, the hope was that every person attending the AMCF World Conference would be visited within three years after the conference.  The paper makes the striking comment that:

It is likely that more military Christians have been encouraged and strengthened, and more MCFs have been started by visits of the Piersees, Snows, Reifsnyders, Geoff Skippage, Simon Farmer, Homfray Vines, Juan Valenzuela, Jose Rojas, Enrique Olavaria, Jeremias Cano and others, than have been the result of someone’s participation in a conference.

These missionary trips can be seen to be important and the challenge to visit every attendee within 3 years a huge task with 133 nations present at the World Conference in Seoul.  The paper did not discuss how this might be achieved.

It needs to be recognized that the support organizations ACCTS USA, Accts MMI and the MSO are limited in the regional staff that they have available for this work.  ACCTS USA has put significant emphasis on its functional ministries recruiting staff to do this work in preference to its regional ministry.  Accts MMI although reasonably well staffed for its work in Europe, South Asia and the Middle East has struggled to find people with the relevant experience and language ability for the large continent of Africa.

As with Paul and Barnabas, the building up of good relationships is the secret of the success of the AMCF ministry.  Bob Reifsnyder has shown over the years that he has not needed to be physically with the relevant MCF leader to help him, but it does help enormously when in e-mail or telephone contact to have a trusting relationship and preferably speak their language.  The building up of these relationships takes focus, time and effort.

The ‘Lighthouse’ MCF model – who will go?

The mission of the AMCF is to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to military men and women of every nation of the world[4].  Its goal is that every country in the world have an MCF that is becoming mature and effective[5].  These are major challenges that call for God given strategies to achieve them.

It is noticeable that Paul and Barnabas were only 2 of the 5 prophets and teachers that resided in the church at Antioch.  They were however the 2 who God called out to carry out the ministry of evangelism to the Roman world (Acts 13:1-3).  They were not the leaders of the church either, but people with the right skills for the missionary journeys.

Capt Cleo Buxton, when he founded ACCTS, recognized the need for people to carry out this missionary work if the then FNOCU, now AMCF was to grow.  The fruit of what he started is clear for all to see, but now may be the time for a change in direction.  Is there a need to recognize the importance of the more mature MCFs and their ability to help in Mission and become ‘lighthouse’ MCFs?  They may need affirmation, training and helping for this role.

As pointed out already the value of MCFs doing this work is that they are better placed to bridge the language and culture gaps that exist and share the ministry load more broadly.  It also frees up the support organizations to focus on the more difficult regions.  However the AMCF needs to recognize the heavy task and inherent difficulties for the leadership of any MCF, so sensitivity is required when challenging them to go out.


Mature MCFs already play an important role in the AMCF mission, which needs to be recognized, as it is not identified in Manual.  The concept of ‘lighthouse MCFs’ may be helpful in achieving the AMCF mission and goal.  The AMCF VPs and support organizations may need to help and train MCFs to call the right people to do the visiting ministry that is envisaged.

For Discussion

1.    How do the more mature MCFs assist in the work of growing the AMCF now?

2.    How is the ‘lighthouse’ MCF concept valuable?

3.    Have we thought through this new concept well enough?

4.    How would this help the AMCF VPs?

5.    What should the support organizations do to help?

6.    How should this be promulgated?

7.    How should the AMCF Reference Manual be changed to reflect this concept?

[1] AMCF Newsletter, Lighthouse MCFs in Southern Africa, 4th Quarter 2005, [http://www.amcf-int.org/newsletters/05/amcf05_4.pdf]

[2] AMCF Reference Manual, August 2004, [http://www.amcf-int.org/resources/AMCF-reference-manual/English/AMCF%20Manual%20English-w.pdf]

[3] Bob Reifsnyder, How The Association of Military Christian Fellowships works – By Meeting Together, AMCF Seoul Council Papers 2004, P 47

[4] AMCF Reference Manual, August 2004: p 1-6

[5] Ibid.




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2  - Komo(sec)     Admin 2009-08-12 3142
3  - Gnoumou(sec)     Admin 2009-08-12 3134
4  - Mwaniki(sec)     Admin 2009-08-12 3214
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7  Secretariats for African VPS     McCabe 2009-08-12 3364
8  How to work with Roman Catholics and Orthodox people     Throun 2009-08-12 3114
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