Back in 1994, Rod Gerhart and his wife Millie were attending a church where mission work was a low priority. Because they were interested in missions, Rod began an effort to inform and recruit other church members to do short term missions.
The response was gratifying and he soon realized that there were many, many people who wanted to learn about and perhaps serve in missions.
Then in 1997, when he was semi-retired and working part time, his employer asked him to create a website for the newly emerging internet. He did, and then began to wonder if a website was the answer to connecting people with missions.
By the time he fully retired at the end of 1998, he had created Mission Finder, a website listing about 20 short term missions. Interest continued to grow, and the website with it.
Before long, Rod had a full-time job managing it. Technology improved and opportunities for connecting people with missions expanded. Soon the website became a bona fide ministry. By 2011 the demands of running the website and keeping everything up-to-date and accurate had become more than one person could handle – even working full time. Rod began looking for someone to help, or even to take it over.
Meanwhile, Andrew Arroyo’s Mom, Leslie, had a prison ministry, helping prisoners in the Bay Area, and her ministry was expanding. She had begun to think she needed a website. Then she happened to run into Rod Gerhart and his wife Millie. She had been acquainted with Rod and Millie years earlier, and in fact Millie had been Andrew Arroyo’s Sunday School teacher at one time.
When she learned that Rod had a website, she suggested that perhaps he could build one for her. Email sharing of news being what it is today, Rod and Andrew were soon talking. Rod suggested that Andrew build the site for his mother, and he did.
Andrew had just started Eye of a Needle, with the initial purpose of mentoring, advising and funding local charitable missions in San Diego. However, he too was interested in helping others find God’s mission for their life and expanding Eye of a Needle’s outreach efforts worldwide.
The two began conversing and after much thought and prayer, Andrew felt compelled to carry the torch and execute the vision that Rod had set in motion back in 1994.
Eye of a Needle Foundation received 501c3 status in early 2012 and purchased Mission Finder later that year. Since then, thanks to a dedicated staff, the site has been redesigned and expanded. More than 2,000 organizations and missions are now listed, with full web pages and ministry tools for each organization. This allows volunteers, donors and organizational leaders to communicate with each other more effectively and efficiently. In turn, Mission Finder is empowering its users to mobilize faster and share the Gospel further as technology channels open up in many foreign countries all over the world.
Each year more than 300,000 Christians peruse those pages in search of an opportunity to serve the Kingdom of God through local ministries and global missionary work. Mission Finder is now being marketed and advertised online in more than 75 countries so many users are foreigners just learning the capability of the Internet and how it can help their ministry.
What began as a desire to help in 1994 grew into the kernel of an idea for a website in 1997, and now is one of the driving forces in Christian ministry – connecting thousands of volunteers and donors with the ministries and the missions that allow them to provide aid and comfort for their fellow man.