This is an article from the September-October 1996 issue: The Future of the Frontier Mission Movement

Adopt-A-People Advocates

The Essential Link Between the Resources at Home and the Agencies on the Field

Adopt-A-People Advocates

We Need 146—One for Each of the Gateway Clusters

Is God trying to tell us something? When godly people from many different agencies on various continents begin coming to the same conclusion, perhaps God is saying something we should be paying close attention to. This is actually happening. A number of mission agencies and Christian leaders are coming to the conclusion that we need Adopt-A-People Advocates for each of the 146 Gateway People Clusters as listed on the Joshua Project 2000 List of Unreached Peoples! (See the May-August 96 issue of Mission Frontiers.)

For many months, Patrick Johnstone, author of Operation World, has called for the recruitment and training of Advocates whom he has called "Gatekeepers." These Advocates would both promote the cause of the particular people or cluster they represent while also helping to guide interested churches into a positive working relationship with other churches which have adopted the same people. They would also help churches link up with agencies that are working to reach their adopted people. (See pages 24-25 for a chart of this relationship.)

Phill Butler of Interdev says in his article starting on page 26 that if we are really serious about completing the Great Commission, then there is no higher priority than the recruitment and training of these Adopt-A-People Advocates along with Strategic Partnership Facilitators. Phill's specialty is setting up Strategic Partnerships and yet he recognizes the key role that these Advocates can play on the home front. Interdev is currently working to provide training for both the Advocates and the Strategic Partnership Facilitators.

John Hanna of Caleb Resources in Littleton, Colorado, is also leading an effort to raise up and train these Advocates. He produces the quarterly AdvoNet newsletter from Caleb Resources to help guide and support these Advocates in mobilizing churches and resources on behalf of their adopted people or cluster. They also have regular times of training sessions for those interested in becoming Adopt-A- People Advocates. The next training session is scheduled for November 1996.

The U.S. Center is also supporting these efforts to raise up Advocates for each of the 146 Gateway Clusters, both for the purpose of promoting the adoption of these clusters as well as to help prevent what Dr. Winter has called "Drive-by Mission." This is the launching out of illequipped and inexperienced people into sensitive mission fields around the world with little guidance from or coordination with experienced agencies. This can cause tremendous problems for the work of missionaries who have been on the field for years. We believe that these Advocates, if well trained, can help guide these individuals and churches into a much more positive relationship with the agencies. The agencies can help these churches make a positive contribution in reaching the group they have adopted.

The other major step forward in this area of Advocacy is the degree of agreement on starting with the Gateway People/Clusters as the first step in reaching all of the Joshua Project Peoples. Dr. Winter has said, "The Gateway Peoples (or clusters of peoples) which group together the 1739 peoples listed, are a stunningly significant classification, even if needing further refinement." Patrick Johnstone developed these clusters and Phill Butler is working to organize Strategic Partnerships around them. Now others are catching the vision also.

Advocates Are Producing Results

The belief in the contribution that Advocates can make on the home- front is being borne out already by the early results of a few brave pioneers.

One Advocate for the Nakhi people of China (a Joshua Project priority people) mobilized their church to adopt the Nakhi and arranged for a group of 15 members to visit their adopted people. The leader of the team had met a local family preparing to go as career missionaries to the Nakhi and this team wanted to pave the way in prayer for them. In addition, 200 people at home in Kansas committed to intercede in prayer for the Nakhi and the team.

When the team returned, they mobilized 93 people to pray and fast for the missionary family one day each month for a year. The missionary family is now in China learning the language. The team produced a professional video people profile which has been used to spread the vision for praying for the Nakhi. The journey leaders have started a group called Kansas City Missions Mobilizers which has brought together many churches in monthly meetings. As a result, several other Joshua Project 2000 peoples have been adopted.

You Could Be an Advocate

An Advocate can have a great impact in his own church and in others in seeing the adoption of unreached people groups. Whether you are a pastor or lay person, you can be an Advocate for one of the unreached peoples or clusters. Caleb Resources and Interdev are already providing training for those who are interested. The U.S. Center also has an Advocates Kit that can help you get started with mobilizing your own church with a vision to Adopt-A-People.

These Adopt-A-People Advocates could be the key to the success of the entire Adopt-A-People effort. Right where you are, you can have a major impact on whether the goal of seeing "A Church for Every People by the Year 2000" is reached. You don't need to go overseas or get a seminary degree in order to be used greatly by God. You just have to be available to serve as an Advocate.

Mobilizing for Victory

At the start of World War II the U.S. was suffering badly from a series of terrible defeats. We had lost many men and much equipment at Pearl Harbor and things were getting worse. The Japanese were overrunning the islands of the South Pacific and General MacArthur had suffered a series of defeats that eventually forced him to leave the Philippines with the promise, "I shall return."

How did the U.S. turn this terrible situation around to win the war? The tide in the war began to turn when the whole country, including the homefront, was thoroughly mobilized for war. Factories that once produced cars began to turn out the latest battle tank. Hollywood produced films to stir patriotic hearts for support of the cause. Mothers grew victory gardens to release more food for the frontlines. Tin and gas were rationed and everyone was urged to buy war savings bonds. And perhaps the greatest impact came from people mobilized for prayer as people passed around photos of their sons and daughters who labored in the armed forces.

Two years after MacArthur's retreat the tide had turned and the general kept his promise by returning victoriously to the Philippines.

General MacArthur and the frontline troops had been forced to retreat until the homefront was mobilized.

Likewise today, we must mobilize the church for strategic involvement in frontier missions if we are to be successful in planting a church in every unreached people group by the year 2000. The awareness and involvement of local churches in completing the Great Commission must be expanded. This will require a grassroots mobilization effort of many believers across this country who will become Advocates for the 146 Gateway People Clusters, their unreached people groups and frontier missions.

If you would like more information on becoming an Adopt-A-People Advocate for a particular Gateway Cluster, you may check off the appropriate box on the MF Response Form and send it back to us or you may contact,

Phill Butler Interdev P.O. Box 3883 Seattle, WA 98124, USA Tel: 206-775-8330 Fax: 206-775-8326 E-mail: [email protected]


Ernie Addicott Interdev PO Box 47, Ashford Middlesex TW15 2LX, England Tel: +44/1784/420 695, Fax: 44/1784/420 696 E-mail: [email protected]


John Hanna, Caleb Resources, 10 West Dry Creek Circle, Littleton, CO 80120 or call: Voice: (303) 730-4170 Fax: (303) 730-4177

Rick Wood has been the managing editor for Mission Frontiers since 1990 and is a graduate of Western Baptist Seminary in Portland Oregon.


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