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Avant History

Reaching the Unreached since the 1890s

1892 - World’s Gospel Union

For more than 125 years, Avant has maintained a strong commitment to taking the gospel to people living in the un-evangelized areas of the world.

Avant emerged out of the missionary movement of the last two decades of the nineteenth century, a movement that brought into being numerous foreign missionary societies. Through the evangelistic efforts of the YMCA, young men of Kansas were challenged to Christian service. The Secretary of the Kansas State YMCA was George S. Fisher, whose parents had been missionaries in Jamaica.

Fisher’s conviction was that the gospel must be preached in all the earth, wherever Christ was not named. In 1892, Fisher and other Kansas leaders resigned from the YMCA and formed a new independent organization called the World’s Gospel Union. 

1901 - Gospel Missionary Union

The name was changed in 1901 to Gospel Missionary Union. Avant was the first evangelical Christian mission to enter Ecuador in South America and the Republic of Mali in West Africa. Many of Avant’s first missionaries worked to translate the Bible into Quichua, Shuar, Berber, Bambara and Arabic in order to bring the Bible to those people groups in isolated areas. They suffered illness, persecution, separation from family and friends, and sometimes death in order to share the gospel with people who had never heard it.

Avant missionary Roger Youderian was one of the five missionaries killed in the Ecuadorian jungle on January 8, 1956. He had been working with four other missionaries to make initial contact with the Waodani (Auca) tribe, a story famously recounted by widow Elisabeth Elliot in her book, Through Gates of Splendor.

Today in Ecuador strong, nationally-led churches exist among three different ethnic groups: the Shuar in the jungle, the Quichua of the Andes Mountains, and the Spanish-speaking communities living in cities and on the coast. The Malian national church is now a respected and growing presence in a country where Islam and animism has a stronghold. Our passion is to see these stories repeated in communities around the world.

Roger Youderian and Family in Ecuador in 1956

1975 - Merger - EUSA

The Evangelical Union of South America (EUSA) was inaugurated at the Keswick Convention in Liverpool, England, in 1911. The society formed from three existing missions operating in South America: the sections of Regions Beyond Missionary Union working in Argentina and Peru; the South American Evangelical Mission working in Argentina and Brazil; and the Help for Brazil mission, which joined EUSA two years later in 1913.

The North American Board of the EUSA merged with Avant in 1975, adding some 150 members serving in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia.

2003 - Avant Ministries

On October 22, 2003, Gospel Missionary Union changed its name to Avant Ministries as a reflection of its 21st century innovative advance in church planting methodology, and a refreshed vision to make a difference in time for eternity by rapidly planting and developing churches where none exist.

2019 - Merger - Camino Global

Camino was founded in 1890 as the Central American Mission. C.I. Scofield’s vision for the mission flowed from his conviction that the growing 19th century missions movement had “passed over our Samaria”, noting that it was a time when other missions were focusing attention on far away Africa and Asia, to the neglect of relatively nearby Central America. The mission’s first ministry field was Costa Rica.

Camino Global and Avant Ministries were born at nearly the same time, at the start of the closing decade of the 19th century. Some of the same leaders were involved in the founding of both ministries, including C.I. Scofield and Luther Rees. A.E. Bishop, a co-founder of Avant in 1892, was also Camino’s pioneer missionary to Honduras in 1896.

In 1917, the Central American Mission was a founding/charter member of the Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association (now MissioNexus), of which Avant has also been a member for most of its history.

Its members primarily planted churches among Spanish speakers, but a number of Camino missionaries also focused ministry on scripture translation to bring God’s Word to the indigenous Kaqchikel, Q’anjob’al, and Mam peoples of Guatemala. Among them was Cameron Townsend, who served with the Central American Mission during the 1920s before founding SIL in 1934 and Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1942.

The Central American Mission became CAM International in 1975. In 2012, CAM became Camino Global, its rebranding focusing on serving the global Church, journeying with Spanish speakers everywhere to transform communities, equip believers and reach the world. 
Camino merged with Avant on July 1, 2019.  Learn more about the merger at https://avantcamino.org.

Today

Following the merger, Avant’s active membership exceeded 500 for the first time in its history, serving in some 50 countries on 5 continents.