The Missionary with the Peanut Butter Jars

Author: Michael Babienco

July 2024

He finally came! We had been waiting months for this visit. After much planning and great anticipation, our guest finally arrived at the Japan project. Who had come to visit, you might ask? A family member? A friend we hadn’t seen in decades? Neither — it was the field director for our project, Chris White.

So why was his visit so important to us? Within AFM, field directors are just as much an AFM project team member as career or short-term missionaries. They provide guidance, support, prayers and encouragement to each missionary project they supervise. A single field director helps at multiple AFM projects, often in several different countries. Truly, they are a vital part of AFM’s projects.

Said another way, field directors bring a friendly face to tired missionary families, uplift conversation in an understandable language, and focus a fresh pair of eyes on seemingly insurmountable situations. Yes, they are administrators: they have paperwork to file, emails to write and meetings to attend. But before they are administrators, they are missionaries first and foremost — both to the career and short-term missionaries in the field and, through them, to the local people whom they are leading to Christ.

Here’s how Chris blessed us on his visit to the Japan project. We conversed for hours, discussing cultural and spiritual insights we had gleaned about Japan, all the while hearing a new and fresh perspective on items Chris had noticed. He asked probing questions, making sure that not only were we doing our part as AFM workers in language learning and culture acquisition but also checking to see if we were healthy spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. Chris was also our voice in various meetings with Japan Union Conference and West Japan Conference administrators, helping to build strong and healthy relationships between AFM and existing church structures.

Along with the administrative and personal work, Chris inspired us with a trip out west to visit the future location of our work in Japan, where we did some sightseeing, praying and talking about how God is leading the Japan project. Chris even preached through a translator at a small, local SDA church.

In addition to everything else, Chris brought us personal items from home. We had left some belongings in storage, and Chris graciously found, repacked and brought a whole suitcase of our needed belongings. And — treasure of treasures! — inside were jars of natural, creamy peanut butter, a treat that will bring joy for many months.
Without field directors, AFM projects would lose part of what makes them so special: a family of missionaries in every part of the world that works together, each using their gifts, time and talents to help reach the unreached as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thank you for your support and prayers for every member of AFM’s worldwide team.

For more information on the missionary work of field directors, please visit AFM’s website at