Letter to the Editor From Missionary Couple: Young Missionary Women From AIM (Adventures in Missions) Being Taught Contemplative Prayer

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Adventures_In_Missions_(logo)LTRP Note: We have removed a couple identifying elements in this letter to protect the identity of a group of young missionary women who responded favorably to warnings about contemplative prayer practices that they have been taught by their missionary sending organization.

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Thank you for your special newsletter on Jesus Calling and for your continuing efforts to provide the information you have been putting out for so many years. I know the wave of heretical deceptions seems to be exponentially growing and being accepted in unbelievable proportions.

Many years ago, you sent my husband and I some books, for free, I might add! And I talked with you on the phone. My husband and I are missionaries in [an east European country]. We thank you for making us aware.

Recently, we had an interesting experience. _____ young ladies dropped by and stayed for a week. They were on a mission from a group we had never heard of before called AIM- Adventures in Missions, and they were on what is called the World Race. They go to 11 countries in 11 months. I believe they are the ones being evangelized into contemplative spirituality and New Age mysticism. They are sincere in wanting to serve the Lord with their lives. It looks to me like they are slowly and deliberately being led astray.

They don’t have a Bible study they do, but they journal what God speaks to them in the silence. I was able to spend some time with these young ladies and get them in a morning Bible study, plus read with them sections of Ray Yungen’s book, A Time of Departing, (which you sent to me for free many years ago) and your tract about spiritual formation—both of which they took with them when they left and were very responsive to and appreciative of. One of the young ladies described a time when her mom, who is a nurse, was taught about Reiki in the hospital she worked at and felt uncomfortable about it but didn’t know why. We saw in Ray’s book what that was about. So, that led credibility to the reality of the rest of what he wrote.

I also e-mailed them the special Jesus Calling newsletter you just mailed out this week. My prayer is that these girls eyes will be opened to the truth and they won’t be deceived and turned away from the truth.

I am amazed at how many strong Bible-believing Christians have brought Jesus Calling here to give away. These are people who are coming on missions trips, who read their Bibles and know their Bibles. Thank you for giving me the information to share with them.

No matter who says what to you, or about you—in this world—you will be able to stand before the Lord with a clean heart, unashamed. I praise the Lord for all you are doing! Thank you.


P.S.  We received some information to have some interns from Prairie Bible School, and one of the missions organizations they send their students out with is AIM (Adventures in Missions). I had never heard of this group until the young ladies showed up here last month. I looked it up on your research blog, but there was only one minor reference to the leader, Seth Barnes. I found a book about AIM and a letter by Claris Van Kuiken about her research on the group (see below). Her other books are Battle to Destroy the Truth and Unveiling a Trail of Deception. The girls in the AIM group that came here must’ve been warned about her because they didn’t take the information about her, only the information I gave them from you.

By the way, one of the girls in the group gave me a book written by Seth Barnes, the founder of AIM, called Kingdom Journeys, and I can see how it would appeal to young people, because it’s written in a very personal way, that meets their felt needs; I can see how they can relate to it and trust a guy that is so personable. But even though it talks about his own personal journey—there is no reference to his conversion. And when he uses Scripture—it’s like how Rick Warren does in his books, there is no Scripture reference, but a vague alluding to a Scripture verse—so someone can say, “I remember something about that in the Bible” but he seems to use it to validate his own position about something that he’s talking about, not explaining the meaning of the verse from a biblical perspective. The girls also had a book he wrote on listening prayer* they were supposed to go through daily, but this book was only a PDF that they could bring up electronically.

My heart goes out to these young people. Some are true born again believers and I believe they will see the truth and be led by God’s Holy Spirit; but some of these young people are in the process of seeking the truth, of seeking God and have not yet been born again spiritually in Christ Jesus, these will be led by deceiving spirits. The church needs to be protecting these young people.

LTRP Note: * Seth Barnes book is called The Art of Listening Prayer. In the back of the book, under Recommending Reading, Barnes includes Dallas Willard and Mark Virkler (both contemplative advocates).

For an expose on AIM (Adventures in Missions), please read the research of Claris Van Kuiken in her book, Missions, Mysticism, and Magic. (You may purchase an e-book version of this on Amazon for $2.00.) Below are a few excerpts:

[M]y husband and I have grave concerns . . . for all those planning a mission trip with AIM. . . .What I found was deeply disturbing, especially in light of the fact Seth Barnes explains: “Our objective at AIM is to thrust over-protected young people out into the world to formulate their own world view and collide with their destiny.”1 This was written in response to a rumor circulating among parents that AIM was a cult because one of their mission teams “went on a one-month media fast” (“Responding to unfair criticism,” 1/ 8/ 2010). Barnes obviously felt the need to reply and defend their practices of “limited communication” and “silence fasts.” (Kindle Locations 161-169).

The goal of AIM leaders is to have participants “join in the Great Commission,” bring “social justice” to the oppressed, and “usher in the kingdom of God on earth.” They view the World Race as a revolutionary movement of radicals out to change the world. Similar to the Charismatic concept of Joel’s Army, they’re looking to enlist an “army” of youth to bring the world back to the perfect state of the Garden of Eden. (Kindle Locations 174-177)

In describing “the change process,” Barnes speaks of “Mission trips as “spiritual formation,” (9/ 6/ 2010). Unfortunately, he uses humanistic, transpersonal psychologist, Abraham Maslow, to discuss spiritual growth (“4 Aids to personal growth,” 4/ 3/ 2007). Providing a picture of Maslow’s famous pyramid, the Hierarchy of Needs, Barnes insists to his readers that they need “mentors,”“coaches” and “discipleship” in order to reach “the highest level – self-actualization ” (similar to the concept of Self-realization in Hinduism).  (Kindle Locations 198-202)

One of the “core values” of AIM is that of “Listening Prayer.” . . . all participants in the World Race are required to read Seth Barnes’ book, The Art of Listening Prayer (Gainesville, GA: Praxis Press, Inc., 2005). Not only are they to read it, they must practice this “spiritual discipline” during their eleven month long “adventure.” In his book, Barnes informs participants of the World Race that in silence and solitude, they’ll be able to recognize the “still, small voice of God.” It’s possible, Barnes claims, to hear “God’s” voice audibly, as well as through impressions, dreams and visions , which he believes are all necessary in order to really know God and have a relationship with him . He also encourages his readers to keep a journal and write down what they think God might be saying to them. On one hand, before practicing this discipline, Barnes tells his readers that they need to “ask for protection in Jesus’ name from deception” (p. 23).

On the other hand, he complains: “We’re so saturated with doctrine that has little or no basis in our experience that we look and act like hypocrites” (p. 21). There is a whole lot more behind his reason for saying this. Barnes is skeptical of being able to fully know the meaning of any passage of the Bible, except for “the Ten Commandments” and “a number of precepts.” That, says Barnes , “leaves a lot that is open to interpretation” (“Interpreting Scripture – a few things to consider,” 1/ 29/ 2008). Tragically, Barnes’ assumption leaves the door wide open for the possibility of a different gospel, a different spirit and a different Christ to “emerge” (2 Corinthians 11: 4). Thwarting off accusations against what he is teaching throughout his numerous blog posts, Barnes writes: “When Christians say something ‘is not biblical,’ they often are treating the Bible as though it were not open to interpretation” (“It’s not biblical,” 1/ 28/ 2008). When young people read this, how many will question Barnes or other AIM leaders, who, in their trusting eyes, are wonderful. (Kindle Locations 233-253)

Of all the works Barnes recommends, I found Mark Virkler’s book, Communion with God, most disconcerting. Guiding his readers on how to hear “God’s” voice, he advises : “Of paramount importance is learning to break free from the prison of rationalism in which Western culture is locked and relearning how to have spiritual experiences . . ” (p. 17). Sounding like a New Age medium, Virkler discusses left-brain, right-brain thinking and the need to rely more upon the right hemisphere’s intuitive and visionary functions. This way, he believes we can make direct spiritual contact with God and get into His divine “flow,” and into “true spiritual Christianity” (p. 41). On Sid Roth’s program, “It’s Supernatural,” Virkler teaches Roth and his viewers how to hear God’s voice and journal it down. Watching Virkler is no different than watching a medium teach you how to channel a spirit guide and instruct you in the occult art of automatic handwriting.  (Kindle Locations 341-352)

It wasn’t hard to figure out where their ideas came from. Barnes, Goins, and others involved with AIM, find Franciscan mystic, Richard Rohr, fascinating. In his post, “Rohr on becoming a spiritual warrior,” Barnes entices World Racers with this mystic’s blasphemous gospel and different Christ saying, “Richard Rohr is so profound – probably the wisest man I’ve met.” (Kindle Locations 420-422)

These excerpts are used with permission.


  1. Laurah Ehling

    I just read the article about AIM and the WorldRace. My daughter wants to do this 11 trip. I am very against it. Can you give me any advise.

    • admin

      The advice would be to find a different missions group and make sure she is well-versed in both the Word of God and the current deceptions in the church today.

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