The heart of ACTION’s governance is the autonomous member country. To date, there are nine separate Action International Ministries corporations: Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, India, Philippines, United Kingdom, USA, and Zambia. Each country has a Board of Trustees or equivalent, which selects a Director (CEO) who, in the case of sending countries, recruits missionaries and hires staff for the sending base. The receiving countries likewise have a Board of Trustees and a Director with employees to assist in the field ministry.
ACTION’s International Council, which meets annually, is formed by the CEOs of each of its nine member countries plus their board chairmen, regional coordinators, and other members as deemed appropriate. This body elects an International Director and an Associate International Director. The member missions do not cede their autonomy, but rather agree to cooperate, harmonize procedures, enact common policies, and plan together. The International Director is the chief spokesman, mentor, and encourager for the whole mission.
When new fields are opened, they are placed under the direction of one of the regional coordinators. At some point, the mission in the new country may incorporate and become a full member, but in some cases, the ministry continues under the supervision of one of the regional coordinators as a permanent arrangement. Countries with several missionaries but without a board and director have a Team Leader appointed by the regional coordinator responsible.
ACTION takes great care not to become a top-down or authoritarian-type mission society. The initiative, energy, goals, and direction which our missionaries possess under the guidance of the Holy Spirit are what drive ACTION. Our people are self-starters with strong calls from the Lord and there are many in our midst with an unparalleled work ethic. The directors and team leaders serve as coordinators and administrators, and of course, as in any human organization, there are times when problems need to be addressed. But for the most part, ACTION missionaries carry out their God-given responsibilities with considerable freedom, knowing they can draw on someone in the mission structure if assistance of any kind is needed. Having this type of structure serves to attract high-energy people and results in the amazing diversity of fields and ministries which our medium-sized mission offers.
In 1961, Will Bruce from China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship) and Marvin Graves (and wife Sara Graves) from New Tribes Mission (now Ethnos 360), along with nine other missionaries and pastors in Manila, decided to form Christ for Greater Manila (CGM) (now Christian Growth Ministries, Inc.) Their first ministry was called Youth Time and it consisted of large, well-planned rallies held at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila. By the next year, CGM had expanded into camping — something entirely new in the Philippines. Churches had never had family camps or children’s camps. This was a great success and led to purchase of a large tent for evangelistic meetings. Later, open air meetings were held and then a film ministry was started.
When Will Bruce, due to ill health, had to leave the Philippines, a young couple named Doug & Margi Nichols were just finishing Tagalog language school. They were also with OMF and were assigned in 1972 to direct CGM. Under Doug’s leadership the outreach expanded to include jail ministry, literature work, bookstores, opening of the Bible League, ministry to street children and prostitutes, church planting among the poor, Gospel ads, evangelism, and discipleship and vocational training for street children, with a much larger involvement of Filipino workers. The staff grew to 166.
Because several expatriate missionaries were involved, it was decided that a mission should be incorporated in the United States to represent their interests. Thus, in 1974 in Chicago, Action International Ministries first started to function. In 1975, ACTION was officially incorporated in the state of Washington.
From those beginnings, the mission now has over 250 members from eighteen different countries, with ministries in over twenty-five countries including: Austria, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Spain, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA, and Zambia.
Not content with this expansion, over 200 positions have been identified, catalogued, and publicized, including needs on existing fields and potential worker slots on new fields we plan to open. Job descriptions have been written for most of these positions.