A Brief History of Advancing Native Missions

In the beginning…

Everyone needs the hope of the Gospel, but not everyone has even had a chance to hear about Jesus. That’s why Christians have been on mission since Jesus gave the Great Commission, recorded in Matthew 28.

For many years, missions was most often done by sending Western missionaries to share the Gospel with unreached people groups (distinct ethnic groups with little or no church movement) in other parts of the world. In the late 20th century, as native (local) Christian movements grew and more countries became closed to American missionaries, it became clear that American Christians could make a greater impact by partnering with these native Christians. After all, they already knew local languages and ways of living! But many American Christians had no idea this was possible.

In the early 1990s, Carl Gordon and Benjamin (Bo) Barredo were working in missions in the U.S. when they recognized the need for a new organization to increase awareness of native missions and raise more financial support for growing Christian movements in other countries. As they expressed it, they wanted “to dig another well for the Lord’s use.” In 1992, supported by a small group of committed believers, they launched Advancing Native Missions (ANM).

As a step of faith, Carl and Bo visited various churches and pastors to share their vision. Their first long-distance trip was to Abundant Life Church in San Antonio in October 1992. The pastor of Abundant Life Church, Gerald Ripley, caught their vision, and the church gave ANM its first offering ($880.87) on Oct. 9, 1992. During the trip, the Lord also revealed to Carl and Bo what would become ANM’s guiding scripture passage: Matthew 24:14.

Bo and Carl rented a one-room office in their hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, and ANM opened for business on October 20, 1992. Carl was its first President, with Bo and fellow missions advocate Graham Stewart serving as Vice Presidents.

Their first volunteer, Cris Paurillo, arrived on that first day, and other volunteers and staff soon joined the young organization. ANM’s first native partner was Yogyakarta Missionary Training Center in Indonesia, led by Paulus Wibowo.

The one-room office didn’t last long. Over the next few years, continued international expansion and a growing staff led to several relocations, and ANM finally landed in scenic Afton, Virginia, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Carl served as President of the ministry for thirteen years. Bo followed him as President for thirteen more years. In 2018 Bo moved into a new role as Global Ambassador, turning over the leadership of ANM to Oliver L. Asher, who had previously served as COO and CEO.

From the start, relationships have been a priority for ANM. The early growth of the organization was largely a result of the networks of friends Bo and Carl had developed through the years. The Lord has blessed these relationships, and by the late-2000s, ANM donors were giving more than $10 million annually to bless people in more than 50 countries. By 2021, ANM donors were reaching 112 countries and more than 860 of the world’s 7,000+ unreached people groups through more than 10,000 native workers. 

Since the beginning, ANM’s goal has been to reach the unreached peoples of the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through evangelism, church planting, education, child rescue, disaster relief, medical care, practical aid, and ministry training, ANM donors are helping thousands of people every year encounter the hope of the Gospel — and working toward the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14.