The Poster Child of Intrepid

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The central figure casting a long shadow over the entirety of the Intrepid book is Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, 17th century Jesuit missionary. In preparation for writing the book I read a few accounts and a short book on this historical figure from three centuries ago to pull together his background, mindset, and activities as a snapshot to use as a template for Intrepid.

Why Kino?

One of the books I read was The Padre on Horseback: A Sketch of Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J. Apostle to the Pimas by historian Herbert Eugene Bolton, which is a short account of the life and works of Kino. Even though Intrepid has already been written I still wanted to learn more. This past week I ordered Bolton’s more comprehensive work on Kino called Rim of Christendom: A Biography of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific Coast Pioneer. This is 644 pages in length. In the book, Bolton, who traveled and traced the steps of Kino, as a master storyteller, weaves together the life and story of Father Kino. It’s been hard to put the book down.

What you will find out in Intrepid was when I first came across various accounts of Kino I was immediately struck by how he was trained for church planting ministry. Just this morning as I read the book I came across the detail that fifteen years had passed from his missionary call to his departure for Mexico. Fifteen years. In that time he learned a wide variety of subjects and skills that would serve him as a pioneer church planter. Whether that be cartography, astronomy, and the like, his training greatly aided him as he not only established churches, but also engaged in what we’d now call community economic development.

That’s why I use Kino as the poster child of Intrepid the book and Intrepid the ministry.

At the beginning of his book on Kino, Bolton writes, “Eusebio Francisco Kino was the most picturesque missionary pioneer of all North America — explorer, astronomer, cartographer, mission builder, ranchman, cattle king, and defender of the frontier” (Rim of Christendom, xix). The reason Kino’s figure looms large in my mind can be summed up in that quote. You see, he was more than what we think of as a church planter or missionary. Instead, he had a well-rounded view of the task at hand. Meaning, he wasn’t simply about “spiritual” things … launching of worship services (or Mass), evangelism, and the like (even though he was). Kino and his contemporaries were so evangelistic that even on the boat journey over from Europe they couldn’t but help share the gospel with the crew … and many responded.

But Kino, in addition to evangelism and church planting, was also about “practical” things that greatly impacted those he was seeking to reach with the gospel. That’s where we read of his work in raising cattle and expanding the herd, introducing new farming techniques, and the like. The point? What if church planters today operated more like Kino? That while they were about planting a church and activities like discipleship, they’d also act and engage in other activities that was for the betterment of the people they were trying to reach? Kino raised cattle and farmed. What does that mean for you?

What if church planters today adopted the mindset and framework of Father Kino? What would church planting look like?