How AIM Started: The First Days of AIM
So I didn't close the door on ministry. I started AIM begrudgingly almost, while keeping my options open with a variety of other business propositions. At the same time, life on the home front was difficult. Karen was pregnant with our fifth child. We had no insurance and nobody to pay me a salary. God was showing us that all we really needed was Him.
The first AIM project was to an orphanage in Montego Bay, Jamaica. In 1990 I led five projects. Several of them were for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Hugo. I knew short-term projects changed lives because my life had been changed by two projects I'd gone on as a high school student. But I had no clue about how to minister. My prayers were rote affairs that I engaged in with a heavy sense of discipline.
A project I led to Mexico with 60 junior high students made a big
impact on me. While we had planned to build homes for the poor and
do VBS, I had never seen junior high students go door-to-door and
share their faith. What I saw amazed me. Those students led over 200
people to Christ in a week's time.
I had seen the light. The following summer, we took 750 people on projects and most of them engaged in evangelistic ministry. Though I had three new staff, it was a wild summer. Leading four projects back to back in Mexico was a crazy thing to do. Each week found me more exhausted and more dependent on God's grace. One week I couldn't find the groups' itineraries. So I frantically prayed, “God, get me to the airport when they arrive.” And each time I'd sense it was time to drive by the airport, I'd pull the van up just as the group got off the plane in McAllen.
In those days, if God didn't show up, I was dead meat. On the day
before the first project started, when the truck didn't come to pick
up the wood that we needed to build houses on the project, it forced
me to take desperate measures. I went and rented a 24-foot Ryder
truck, loaded it with wood on the U.S. side and began driving the
truck toward the border crossing without any paperwork. I just had
time to call my mom and tell her, “Mom, you've got to pray; I don't
have plan B. If I don't get across, the project fails.”
Discovering listening prayer
At a retreat with Peter Lord later that year, God showed me that
there were greater possibilities and depths in prayer than I'd ever
imagined. I began to understand that it's possible to hear the
Lord's voice, that prayer can be a two-way street rather than a