Around 3,000 tribes have no access to the Gospel and New Tribes Mission is making its biggest expansion ever since it was first set up over 60 years ago. Their mission isn't completed until every tribe, tongue and nation worships God together and thus a larger training center is in the works to double NTM's efforts.
New Tribes is consolidating its training program, once scattered across three other U.S. centers, into one large center in Camdenton, Mo. - the Missionary Training Center - slated to make its grand opening on 350 acres of land on Aug. 14.
"This is the biggest expansion and financial project that we've ever undertaken," said David Meyers, director of development for the Missionary Training Center. "The biggest reason is to expand the effectiveness of reaching tribal people around the world."
The best way to expand effective reach was to increase the effectiveness of training, said Meyers.
The mission organization has been in Camdenton for about 40 years along with three other locations in the states. Once housing missionary trainees as a language and linguistics center, the location will now hold all of its training and courses while the other institutions are sold. The single two-year course replaces two separate courses in four locations.
"The reason we're doing it is to be able to train more missionaries, to train more effectively and become more efficient with all of our resources," added Meyers.
Upon opening, the expanded site will allow for 180 fall students, double the enrollment capacity from last year. Once NTM reaches 200 people, the agency plans to expand even further to double the trainees to 400. And most of the students who train devote to missions for a lifetime.
Expansion includes housing units for students and staff and educational facilities with support provided by churches and individual donations. The estimated cost for phase one alone is about $8.5 million and there are at least three phases, according to Meyers.
With many missionaries retiring, NTM is planning ahead for the future to replace the outgoing with a new batch of students.
In the meantime, NTM still awaits news from the Venezuelan Supreme Court regarding its decision to consider annulling an order made last year. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had expelled NTM's missionaries from a remote tribe, accusing the group of espionage. New Tribes workers hope to return to the area to continue its outreach work and the indigenous people also want their return, according to NTM spokesperson Nita Zelenak. The final decision could take up to a year.