In the process of coming up with our new name, Novo (read more about it here), we began by looking back at our history. In the process, we discovered a few distinctives that we feel help to define Novo staff. The first of those is that we are disciples; deeply committed to knowing and following Jesus. We also identify as fire-starters; multiplying our impact by equipping, empowering, and collaborating with others.
Another key distinctive is we are risk-takers; rising to new challenges, willing to lay our lives on the line for the cause of Christ. Here is how Bobby Booze, one of the Directors of Ethne, sees Novo’s calling as risk-takers:
“Uh-oh, did we miss our stop? What do we do now?”
It was the summer of 1987. I was on my second short-term missions trip behind the Iron Curtain in Communist Eastern Europe. My team of five found ourselves on a train in eastern Hungary headed straight to the Soviet border. The last thing we wanted was to face Russian military soldiers asking us what we were doing. Not to mention the printer ink we were smuggling in our bags…
So we jumped off the train at the last stop before the border in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully, at that moment God brought a woman who may well have been an angel to help us. She took us on a bus to the city we were trying to reach and then disappeared after we got off. OK, maybe she just walked away, but it sure seemed like she vanished. :-)
My wife Debbie and I met and fell in love on the trip that summer. As we talked on long train rides, we dreamed about living a life of adventure for the sake of the gospel.
At that same time in 1986-87, a Novo team of seven moved into Hungary, seeing new opportunities behind the Iron Curtain. Their desire was to make disciples and train others to do the same.
They left the country monthly to get mail and then (for security purposes) had to cut out all the names before returning with these “holy” letters. Rather than identify themselves, they used code names—Maverick, Goose, and Wolfman (obviously they were Top Gun fans)!
Little did Debbie and I know that we’d end up joining that team several years later and live in Budapest for 22 years. We’ve had countless opportunities since then to take varying degrees of risk for Jesus.
For example, last year I ran a marathon in one of the more repressive nations in the world. It seemed I had stepped back in time. It felt like I was in my early 20’s again, exploring and praying for an oppressed people. As I ran the streets, I saw thousands of sad faces with little or no opportunity to hear about Jesus and his love for them. I slapped hands with a hundred children along the marathon route, praying that the Holy Spirit would flow and reveal Jesus to them through dreams, visions, and divine meetings with followers of Jesus.
Today Novo staff continue to reach out around the globe for the sake of the gospel. We increasingly sense a call to go to the “hard places” around the world where the risk of potential persecution and even loss of life is real. And God is bringing us new people willing to take this risk.
Just in the past two months, I’ve had conversations with two such couples. One of them is mobilizing South American missionaries to pray and work among one of the largest unreached people groups in Asia. They hope to one day personally deploy among this group themselves. The other couple is preparing to move to Central Asia where believers are very few.
Why do we do all this? Because we long to see the vision of Revelation 7 fulfilled, when a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language will worship Jesus together.
Over 3,000 unreached and unengaged people groups remain around the world. Most of these reside in “hard places,” as this map shows. These are the nations and tribes and peoples and languages from the vision in Revelation 7 that we’re still missing! The work may be challenging, and may sometimes be difficult and involve uncertainty, but we believe that nothing is as important as reaching the nations with the good news of Jesus. In the end, this is why we get out of bed in the morning and why we do what we do.
At Novo, we are risk-takers. Because for Jesus, and for the sake of the gospel, the risk is worth it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bobby Booze joined the CRM-Hungary team in 1996, training and mentoring church planters, pastors, and church leaders. In 2014, Bobby and his wife Debbie moved back to Greensboro, NC. As the operations director for Ethne, Bobby uses his experience and passion for the nations to help lead and support the work of 120+ Novo staff impacting 50+ nations.