Man on a Mission

by Georgeann Halburian Ikuma

Growing up a missionary kid, Jedidiah Thurner ’04 vowed he would work with spreadsheets, not spread God’s Word. He would take paid vacations, not go on mission trips. In short, he would become a business executive—not a missionary. God had a different plan. Today, Thurner serves as project director for 1Nation1Day, one of the largest mission endeavors seeking to save an entire nation in a single day.

During his youth, Thurner lived in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Tahiti, California, Florida, and Washington with his missionary parents. Along the way, he discovered that, although he loved the Lord, the nomadic lifestyle lacked appeal. “I wanted financial security and the ability to buy a house,” said Thurner, who finally settled in Hawaii during his sophomore year in high school, informing his parents that he would not move with them again. “I was the first person in my family to go to college, driven by a desire to make money and prosper.”

Thurner’s athletic ability earned him a football scholarship to Azusa Pacific University. Despite his self-imposed hiatus from missionary life, he felt drawn to the Christian university and believed it offered the stability and balance he desired. “My professors and coaches presented Jesus in an approachable and nonjudgmental way,” said Thurner, who credits the small-group Bible study led by football coach Brian Wilmer and the 9:11 chapels (now Kaleo) on Wednesday nights for his spiritual growth during college. “APU encourages excellence as a means to honor God,” he said. “This philosophy continues to permeate all my endeavors.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and marrying his college sweetheart, Amber (Carpenter, attended 2004–05), Thurner found early success in the high-end residential real estate market, which led to his co-ownership of Global Disposal, a full-service waste consulting company that promotes intelligent waste solutions for the environment. Then, in the midst of that professional milieu, Thurner’s evangelical roots beckoned. During a trip to Honduras in March 2012, the Lord appeared to him in a vision, telling Thurner to prepare himself for a life of serving, sacrificing, and leading others to salvation. “The Great Commission commands us to ‘go and make disciples of all nations,’” said Thurner of his reconnection with missionary life. “I have simply fallen in love with God, which compels me to love His people. The more I love Him, the more I love others.” According to Thurner, 3 billion people worldwide today have never heard a clear Gospel message. Of those, 1.5 billion have never even heard the name Jesus. “I want to reduce that number as much as possible with the breaths I have been given,” he said.

In July 2013, Thurner sold his interest in Global Disposal and put his commitment to the test. “The 1Nation1Day campaign seeks to fulfill Isaiah’s bold vision as stated in Isaiah 66:8: ‘Can a nation be saved in a day, a country brought forth in one moment?’ ” said Thurner, who spent the past two years working with Missions.Me to prepare the nation of Honduras for this historic event. “We united an entire nation peacefully while also ministering with the saving grace of Jesus Christ,” said Thurner. Why Honduras? Thurner points to the violence and hopelessness that permeates the country, and the government’s openness to the project’s goals.

The 1Nation1Day project sought to reach every individual in all 18 Honduran states and all 18 capital cities by partnering with the Honduran government. Mission accomplished. In late 2011, President Porfirio Lobo Sosa signed a resolution declaring July 20, 2013, 1Nation1Day, a national holiday, and gave legal authorization for each of the project’s initiatives.

In the week leading up to the event, more than 2,000 trained missionaries reached out to every Honduran teenager through dramas, one-on-one prayer time, and classroom calls to salvation by visiting 1,600 schools nationwide. Simultaneously, 18 containers of food, medicine, and clothes, including 110,000 pairs of new shoes, were shipped to all 18 states, with hundreds of doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals providing free medical care to the impoverished. 1Nation1Day volunteers mobilized pastors from every local church into action. “Thirty thousand pastors and leaders gathered for training events and walked away with books and an effective plan for ensuring a lasting impact and sustainable discipleship once the missionaries left,” said Thurner. “On the final day, thousands of people packed stadiums, while millions more watched a live television broadcast about God’s salvation and living a life filled with honesty and a sense of integrity.”

Thurner and his team at Missions.Me plan to bring 1Nation1Day to another country in 2015. Before then, however, they will help set up 100 water wells in Africa and India, 20 Angel House Rescue Orphanages in India, and 1 Angel House Freedom Home—a safe house for sex slaves—in Nepal. “When I get to heaven, God is not going to be interested in how much money I made. He’s going to ask, ‘What was the impact you had on all of humanity?’ He gave me a keen business sense and the vision to use it for His Kingdom. I believe that the success I’ve enjoyed in the corporate sector has prepared me for the business of ministry and has given me the tools to bring people to Jesus and give Him the glory.”

Originally published in the Fall '13 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.