TMS Global Celebrates 40 Years

TMS Global Celebrates 40 Years

TMS Global Celebrates 40 Years

By Jenifer Jones

In November 1983, the Christian missions organization began when 34 United Methodist pastors and mission-minded individuals gathered in St. Louis. They had watched the decline in the number of United Methodist missionaries over the years. Their hearts’ cry was to see more cross-cultural workers sent who would proclaim the message and love of Christ even to the least-reached places of the world. After much prayer, they committed to start a new global missions agency. What would be named The Mission Society for United Methodists was officially incorporated on January 6th, 1984.

The 40th anniversary celebration year kicked off at a January 5-7 event in Atlanta. About 230 guests and staff and 46 children attended the busiest day of the event.

“It was clear to everyone that God has been with TMS Global for the entire 40 years,” said the Rev. Max Wilkins, TMS Global President. “He has been working in and through us in power, protection, provision, and perhaps most of all, in presence. There was a sense that God was the one being praised and glorified in this celebration.”

Special guests included the adult children of the founding president and his wife, the late H.T. and Alice Maclin. Also in attendance were two of TMS Global’s former presidents, the Revs. Al Vom Steeg and Dick McClain.

McClain said it was a blessing to see 40 years of God’s faithfulness unfold during the event. “As you actually live it out,” he said, “you see little moments of God doing something remarkable, but that is just one moment. When you look at the scope of 40 years of faithfulness, boy, what a blessing that is.”

For Vom Steeg, the constant equipping of workers by TMS Global stands out. “It’s not train them once. It’s a continued nature of renewal,” he says.

Kids attended their own special programming during the 40th anniversary event. “Our goals were to have fun, create community, and help the children see ways they can be part of God’s big story of reaching the world,” said Kerry Davidson, coordinator of TCK (third-culture kid) care at TMS Global.

Participants in the children’s program heard from TCKs around the world, ate snacks from those places, and prayed for the TCKs they met. “We thought it was important to offer a children’s program because children are important to TMS Global,” Davidson said. “Having whole families participate together in celebrating the 40th anniversary creates deeper community and gives a shared language and vision for partnering with Jesus in His mission.”

As TMS Global moves into its next decade of ministry, President-elect Dr. Jim Ramsay is looking toward global partnerships. He said, “I am hopeful that the depth and breadth of our international partnerships will grow so that we can play an important role in helping local churches in the United States connect in effective and healthy ways with the global church for the sake of the mission of God.”

Jenifer Jones is a communicator for TMS Global (

About TMS Global: TMS Global originally launched as The Mission Society for United Methodists. Now interdenominational (and subsequently renamed), TMS Global sends people around the world to spread the love and message of Jesus. Since 1984, it has trained, mobilized, and served hundreds of cross-cultural witnesses. Currently, 143 serve in 29 countries around the world. Thousands of people have been introduced to Jesus and discipled in their faith. Churches in the US and abroad have embraced God’s plan for their congregations and reached out to their communities, nation, and the world with the hope of Christ.  

TMS Global Celebrates 40 Years

A Place of Rest

A Place of Rest

By Jenifer Jones

About 300 miles west of Paris, in the center of the Brittany region of France, stands a three-story stone manor house. 

Over the past 410 years it’s been home to lords, ladies, their servants, and in the 1960s and 70s, a famous Breton singer. 

Today it’s inhabited by Mike and Valerie Smith and guests who stay at Le Manoir Du Poul Coeur de Bretagne Bed & Breakfast. Some are tourists, others are cross-cultural witnesses (CCWs) who come for rest and rejuvenation. 

An answer to prayer. The Smiths have been in Brittany for more than two decades. They had served in France years before and were looking for an opportunity to move back.

“We felt strongly that God spoke to our hearts saying, ‘You will return to France, but next time it will be with a job,’” Mike said. 

It was an answer to prayer when friends purchased the manor house and offered the Smiths the role of property managers.  That’s how Valerie, an artist, and Mike, a musician who used to work in a bank, found themselves running a bed-and-breakfast. 

Learning to serve. The Smiths make the beds in rooms decorated in bright whites, light blues, soft yellows, and neutral tones. In the kitchen, a load of laundry tumbles in the washing machine, while a sink-full of dishes fills with soapy water. 

“I even like to wash dishes now,” Mike confesses. “Before moving to France, I just dreaded it. And that was just for our little family. Now we’re doing it for groups, and we love it. We don’t have a dishwasher. It’s all by hand. So it’s funny how we evolve.”

In the dining room, wooden beams run across the ceiling, connecting one stone wall to another. The space is decorated with Valerie’s artwork. Jars of homemade jam sit on the windowsill. A large stone fireplace occupies much of one wall, its mantle reaching nearly to the ceiling. 

“I didn’t even know how to set a table properly before we came here,” Valerie said. “In my family, we just put out stuff. It didn’t matter. Just plop it on the table. I had to learn. It always made me nervous at the beginning, but now it just comes naturally.” 

When Valerie and Mike lived in the United States, they didn’t have people over often because she was always nervous about what to make, and afraid her guests wouldn’t like it.

“I can’t believe now how many hundreds of people we feed every year now,” she said. 

Valerie notes she had to learn to stop being self-conscious and remember that serving is not about her. 

“It’s all about meeting their needs and making it wonderful for the guests and just doing my very best to make it as nice and as good as possible for them,” Valerie said. “They’re not there to judge me. That freed me up to serve and concentrate on blessing them. I think that changed me. We love the service.”

Mike adds, “I never thought we were hospitable before, but well, it turns out we are.”

And then there’s the yardwork. The B & B is surrounded by 30 acres of woods. The Smiths maintain the lawn and flower beds. The birds love it here. 

“I worship when I’m working in nature,” Valerie said. “It’s the most amazing thing and it makes me feel so good, like we are accomplishing something that God wants us to do. And I think, but it’s just gardening. And yet I feel such a sense of pleasure that God is happy with me for taking care of his ground.”

The Smiths serve people from all over the world who come to the B & B on holiday. But they also serve CCWs who need rest and restoration. “And they love it because it’s so peaceful,” Mike reports. 

A light in a dark region of France. He says serving CCWs keeps him encouraged. In this region of France, he says, it’s easy for Christian workers to want to give up. Though each town in Brittany has a Catholic church, many are closed. Protestant Christians are few and far between. 

“Most communities don’t have one single Christian living in it,” Mike observed. “But there are communities that might have one or a family, and so they have to search. They’re just scattered.” 

The Smiths helped plant a church in their area. 

“And once we started that, a few more hidden Christians came out of the woodwork and appeared,” Mike said. “So maybe we’re just trying to establish something there to be a light and draw more people. But it is difficult. A lot of French people prefer to be atheist.”

The Smiths continue to build relationships in their community. Valerie is in an artist group, and Mike plays in a band. 

In the daily grind of caring for the manor house, its grounds, and the guests who come to enjoy them, it can be hard to see the fruit of ministry. 

Valerie notes, “I often think, what am I really accomplishing when all I’m doing is cleaning rooms and weeding and all of that. You can wonder, am I really doing the right thing, you know? And yet, no, I know I am. God put us here.” 

Mike adds, “When we lived in Texas, I worked in a bank with my white shirt and tie. I can’t even picture that now. I’m a completely different person.”  

Jenifer Jones is a communicator for TMS Global (