On today’s episode of Engaging Missions, our guest, Tony Hedrick, shares about the ways in which God has continued to work in his life and his ministry. He is an artist, businessman, teacher, missionary, and church planter (as well as many other things). Amidst all of his forms of service, Tony has seen God broaden his calling in ways he never imagined.
He primarily serves in Italy and across Europe, spreading the Gospel and encouraging missionaries there. Tony discusses some of the methods he uses to reach different groups of people so that all may come to know Christ. His greatest desire is to see reconciliation of the European Church and for people to see their need for the Gospel.
What we talked about
Getting to know Tony Hedrick
Our guest today, Tony Hedrick, is a bi-vocational artist and businessman who has served in many ways for the Kingdom of God. He has worked as a missionary, church planter, pastor, chaplain, and Bible college professor. Raised in a missionary family, he saw his parents minister to Native Americans.
He came to faith when he was 30 years old, and from then on worked to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He and his wife have been married for 50 years and have four children, one of which is adopted. They now have ten grandchildren and are hoping to have great grandchildren soon.
How have you maintained your marriage?
Tony shares some insights into how he has been able to maintain his marriage for the last 50 years. He discusses the importance of their differences and how God has used those differences to strengthen them.
We don’t really see our marriage as something that has to be always romantically inclined. We are joined together by God, we are joined together for a purpose, we are different for a purpose, we have great strengths that we rely on from one another, and we see our differences as being a real encouragement to the success of our marriage. (Tony Hedrick)
What led you to faith?
As Tony grew up, he continually watched his parents serve the Native Americans around him. Also, many missionaries came and visited his family, allowing Tony to hear the stories of God’s work around the world. When he was about six or seven, he professed his belief in Christ, but wandered from the Lord when he was 14 years old.
After staying away from God for about 16 years, he found himself empty and without purpose. While he was in that brokenness, God found him in a small house in Ontario and drew him back to the Good News. Following his encounter with the Lord, he began serving the Kingdom and has continued to do so for 40 years. He accounts part of his conversion to his parents’ mission work and the many ways that he saw people come to Christ as a child.
Apologetics and experiencing God
Tony discusses his different experiences when discussing faith with people from different places. For example, when in the South, one could easily start quoting a verse like John 3:16, and most people would be able to finish it. In places like Canada or Europe, however, people do not know the phrases or verses commonly found in the Bible-belt. They ask different questions, and in order to answer them, Tony had to research. He began reading and studying great thinkers like C.S. Lewis or Ravi Zacharias. Then he could answer people’s questions as well as have intellectual conversations with them.
Season of difficulty
As Tony has continued to serve and minister for Christ, he has experienced different difficulties, such as financial dependence or spiritual warfare. One of the greatest struggles he faced came one night in his room. He awoke suddenly, feeling a dark presence in the room. After waking his wife up, he walked outside in the cold and began declaring against the enemy.
When he returned to his room, he prayed, and God asked him if he would follow Him even if he received no recognition or money. In obedience, he said yes and left to minister in Europe. Although serving in another country was difficult, Tony is now seeing the fruit of his labors. One of the churches started with only 17 people and no instruments. It has grown to over 200 people with a worship team and a nice room.
Engaging Missions Leadership Moment
Scott McClelland of FX Missions shares about the principal need for Jesus. Listen to discover what happened during some missions training exercises and what you can do if you have failed similarly.
If you have a question about leadership that you’d like to have answered on the show, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the ministry
What is ACCI?
Tony explains the way in which ACCI works and the purpose behind it. As a person who never fit the molds of other missions organizations, Tony decided to start his own organization that takes in missionaries who also don’t fit the mold. The missionaries in the organization do everything from serving as businessmen or women, helping the homeless, and teaching.
The cooperative now contains 80 people who serve the Lord in whichever capacity they have been called to. The main motivation of the organization is to serve other brothers and sisters in ministry in whatever way is needed. Most of Tony’s work has been in Italy, although he has served in many other countries throughout Europe, and the team serves in countries all over the world.
Fishing on the other side of the boat
In order to reach people in Europe, Tony has realized that certains methods have to change. Instead of seeking to implement a top-down organization and enforce personal plans, Tony and his team desire to serve others and win people to Christ in that way. Also, missionaries have to understand that not all methods work for all people groups. Tony shares an example of how regular preaching does not work with a group of people known as Slovenes. Due to the fact that they were under communist dictatorship, they see preaching as just another form of someone trying to tell them how to live. Instead of using that method, Christians will have discussions with them in order for them to hear the Good News.
Reaching the one for the Gospel
Tony shares ways in which people can reach individuals for the Gospel. Some ways include answering their questions, loving them, and praying for them. Also, Tony suggests exposing them to intellectual thinkers who present the Gospel in a thoughtful way.
How to broaden our view of the world
As cultures and places of power change, American Christians must understand that the center of the Church is also changing. Of the top 20 conversional countries, 11 of them are Muslim nations. Many of the largest churches in the world are now in countries like Korea, Nairobi, and many others outside of the US. Instead of being upset that America is no longer the center of Church authority or power, we should rejoice that God is moving in working in these other countries.
Working with missionaries
Tony suggests that in order to serve missionaries, Christians should travel to the places they serve. By returning to the same place year after year, those believers will be able to form relationships with the people there and encourage the missionaries as they serve.
Internet and book resources
Questions, Topics, and Times
- [00:31] – Introduction
- [02:42] – How have you maintained your marriage?
- [04:38] – What led you to faith?
- [10:38] – Apologetics and experiencing God
- [15:00] – Season of difficulty
- [21:31] – Engaging Missions Leadership Minute
- [25:02] – What is ACCI?
- [29:22] – Fishing on the other side of the boat
- [36:08] – Reaching the one for the Gospel
- [41:14] – How to broaden our view of the world
- [46:03] – Working with missionaries
- [51:27] – Internet and book resources
- [55:39] – Contact information
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