125 Years of TEAM: Celebrating Stones of Remembrance

Retirees, former missionaries, supporting church members, appointees and staff gathered in Dallas for the first of eight Anniversary Events celebrating TEAM’s 125 years of history. Photo by Joel Hager/TEAM

This year, TEAM is turning 125, and as we celebrate around the world, it’s got us asking some questions:

“How are we holding up?”

“Where are we going?”

“What are these stones?”

That last question may seem a little odd, but it’s one God expects his people to ask, and its answer has great power.

In Joshua 4, God told the Israelites to make a memorial: one stone for every tribe that crossed the Jordon River on dry land. When their children asked, “What are these stones?” Joshua explained, they should share what God did for them, “that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” Joshua 4: 24 (NKJV)

After 125 years and nearly 50 countries, it would be easy to start thinking we got here on our own or that the future is in our hands. That’s why we are spending 2015 celebrating the present and casting a vision for the future by remembering all God has done in the past.

  • God saved Fredrik Franson in 1872, and led the young man into a lifetime of ministry. After apprenticing under D.L. Moody, Franson ministered in the U.S. and abroad.
  • God put unreached nations on Franson’s heart. When Hudson Taylor issued a call in 1889 for 1,000 missionaries to be sent to China, Franson committed to training and sending 100 of them. Within a year, he sailed back to America for this project.
  • God created TEAM on October 14, 1890, when Franson held his first class for aspiring missionaries in Brooklyn, New York. Franson also held classes in Chicago, Minneapolis and Omaha, teaching 200 men and women.
  • God sent 35 men and women to China on January 17, 1891, just 13 months after Hudson Taylor’s call for missionaries. In the next five years, TEAM equipped more than 100 missionaries to serve in China, Japan, Swaziland, Mongolia, India and South Africa.
  • God sustained the ministry for 20 years without a director. After Franson’s death in 1908, the board struggled to find someone willing to take his place. In the meantime, God faithfully opened doors in Latin America and allowed the work in Asia and Africa to thrive.
  • God provided for missionaries when giving dropped 40 percent during the Great Depression. Because the U.S. dollar increased in worldwide value, missionaries were able to keep working and even start ministries in three new countries. Stateside, Director T.J. Bach expanded the number and diversity of churches supporting TEAM.
  • God used World War II to give people a passion for missions. TEAM grew rapidly after the war as new missionaries flooded the field and veteran missionaries returned to former hotspots like Japan.
  • God added hundreds of missionaries to TEAM over the next decades, allowing them to work in more than 35 nations, including those of the Arabian Peninsula and post-Christian Europe.
  • God opened doors for new initiatives, like orphanages, linguistic work and Bible institutes to support TEAM’s overall church planting mission.

Most significantly, God saved — and continues to save — countless souls so that they may know his mighty hand and worship him forever.

This year, we will hold celebrations in eight cities, and some of you will join us for anniversary tours to the mission field. But we hope you will join us every day of the year in thanking God for who he is and how he has led us.

Let us lay down stones of remembrance for our God, and together, we will boldly walk into the future he has planned.

For more information about TEAM’s 125th anniversary celebrations, please visit www.team.org/125.


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About the author

Bethany DuVal

Bethany DuVal served as TEAM's marketing manager and editor. She is passionate about helping others tell their stories, whether they're missionaries on the field, new believers or part of a missionary support team. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading books and hiking in the Smoky Mountains.


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  • Hi Bethany, Just finished reading the article about the wonderful Christian history and late 1800’s calling of the TEAM (Evangelical Alliance Mission) – WOW IT IS VERY IMPRESSIVE and how God worked through all the years. Congratulations to them on the special 125th anniversary – and congratulations to you that you are now working for such a wonderful God-ordained ministry. Sincerely, Ellen Campbell

    • Thanks, Ellen! Writing this post was a great way to learn about TEAM’s history, and the more I learn, the more excited I get about being here. I’m glad you got to read this. Hope you’re well!

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