TEAM’s history begins with a young Swedish man who came to the United States in 1869. Fredrik Franson and his family settled on a farm in eastern Nebraska. The Fransons were dedicated Christians who had been members of the “free,” non-state church of Sweden. Fredrik, however, hadn’t experienced an authentic relationship with Christ.
After helping on the family farm for three years, Fredrik was struck with malaria and was unable to work for almost a year. During those days of inactivity, he read the Bible and searched for meaning in his life. His mother prayed for him and encouraged him, and eventually Fredrik came to a genuine relationship with the Savior.
Sensing the need for more training, Franson went to Chicago in 1876 hoping to meet the famous evangelist D.L. Moody. He became a part of the church founded by Moody and was trained by the evangelist as a counselor.
Franson eventually returned to Nebraska to minister to Scandinavian immigrants, but in 1879 he felt led to go to the Utah territory to minister to some 30,000 Swedish immigrants who had gone there for inexpensive land. Franson’s evangelistic endeavors were broadened to include the Mormons who had recently come to the Utah territory.
Two years later Franson left for his homeland. While carrying on an extensive ministry in Europe, he heard the well-known missionary statesman, Hudson Taylor, challenge people to go to China with the gospel. From that encounter, Franson got a vision to form missionary sending agencies in various European countries, and before he left the continent, six such organizations had come into being. All six agencies continue to send out missionaries to this day.
After arriving back in America, Franson continued to preach. His desire to motivate others for cross-cultural missions led him to form a training class in Brooklyn, New York.
His first class on October 14, 1890, is recognized as the “birthday” of TEAM, although the early name for the agency was “The Scandinavian Alliance Mission.” This name reflected Franson’s vision to bring churches together into an alliance enabling even small congre-gations to have a part in sending out missionaries.
Classes were also initiated in Chicago, Minneapolis and Omaha. Soon a formal board of directors came into being, and on January 17, 1891, the first band of 35 missionaries boarded a train for the West Coast and eventually China.
Photographs of these early missionaries depict a dedicated group of people who chose to live and dress as the Chinese did. Other groups soon joined the first recruits, and Franson fervently challenged still more to go.
In order to get to China, the early missionaries had to pass through Japan, and that soon became a new field for the mission. In a similar manner, missionaries learned about the need in Tibet, and soon Franson had recruited missionaries to go there. In 1892 a small group went to Swaziland in southern Africa. In 1906 T.J. Bach and his wife left for Venezuela, South America. Bach would later become TEAM’s third General Director.
In 1908, following one of his lengthy trips to the fields, Franson took several days off to rest at the home of some friends in Idaho Springs, Colorado. One morning his host tried to wake him for breakfast, but he had died during the night.
Franson left behind no family or estate. His legacy was a group of dedicated people whose desire was to take the gospel to all people. Franson’s two passions— evangelism and church planting—continue to be the focus of TEAM’s worldwide ministry.
As was true when Franson founded the mission, TEAM’s purpose is to help churches send missionaries to establish reproducing churches in other nations to the glory of God.
TEAM• PO Box 969 Wheaton IL 60189-0969 • 800.343.3144 •Info@teamworld.org