Do Strategic Partnerships Really Make A Difference?
Case Studies in Partnership With Some Remarkable Outcomes
In the previous article, "An Open Letter to Mission Executives," Phill Butler makes the case for God's people working together in Partnership. But, do partnerships really make a difference? You be the judge. Those who shared the following stories have been quick to note: in these brief case histories, the real glory must go to Christ, the work of His Holy Spirit and the faithful individuals and their ministries who labor on the front lines. "Partnership," by itself is no guarantee of Kingdom "success."
When the Mongolia Partnership had its first exploration meeting in Hong Kong in early 1991 only 2-3 ministries were working in the country and you could count all known believers on two hands. Today over 35 ministries from over ten nations are active in the country; the New Testament has been published, revised, and sold out 3 times and the Old Testament is nearing completion; the Jesus film has been completed and shown to tens of thousands; there are daily Christian Mongolian radio programs on the air; a Christian television station has just been launched in the capital; 10-12,000 Mongolians are worshiping in over thirty churches in the country and many believe the baptized believers now exceed 5,000. Remember, it was less than 100 years ago that nearly fifty Christian missionaries were martyred within 60-days as they sought to take the Good News to Mongolia!
Partnership in Pakistan , "Along With Life," is the name of the highly listened to daily Urdu/Punjabi radio program that has anchored the Partnership in Pakistan. The Partnership draws together Western mission agencies, Pakistani churches, literature, Bible production, broadcasting and Bible correspondence course ministries. Since the Partnership began several thousand Muslims have made inquiry and continue to do so at a rate of 300-400 per month. , Four Examples in West Africa
Four Strategic Evangelism Partnerships are now underway in Islamic West Africa and half a dozen new Partnerships are in development. Though relatively young, these Partnerships have already seen some significant breakthroughs. In one language group, three previously independent translation efforts are now working in a common effort to complete the New Testament. The Scriptures will be available years sooner and at dramatically reduced cost.
Another language group, nomadic in nature and typically ranging across at least three countries, had eluded any coordinated effort for decades. The new Partnership for this group has brought all concerned agencies together and spawned a series of practical task forces speeding up development of broadcasting, Scripture translation, relief and development, etc.
Despite intensive missionary effort from around the turn of the century, a major, resolutely Muslim people group had resisted all Christian witness. However, already ministries in the new Partnership are placing missionaries in villages of this Muslim people group for the first time in this century; cooperative broadcasting and music production efforts are underway; and literature production of evangelistic and discipleship materials are being coordinated in another task force.
In one of the most isolated fiercely resistant Muslim countries in the world, fewer than five believers were known to exist ten years ago. The Partnership of international ministries working together in that country now not only serve the people with great credibility, they can count several local fellowships of believers in a rapidly- growing church.
All Indian Partnership
In the central/southern Indian state of Karnataka, Lingyat Hindus have long been viewed as a breakaway, "reformed" stream of Hinduism. Proud, highly intellectual, and dominant in banking and politics, Lingyats became the focus of a Strategic Evangelism Partnership five years ago. Made up of all Indian agencies, the Partnership has jointly produced evangelistic literature specifically tailored to the Lingyat worldview; held training conferences for member partner agencies on practical "how tos" of evangelism among Lingyats; jointly produced the first-ever Lingyat radio broadcast with a coordinated follow-up effort; and have seen many, Lingyats coming into the Kingdom.
Hope for the Islamic World
In a long-neglected Islamic area with over 60 million population, the Strategic Partnership began nearly ten years ago with only eight ministries. Their common effort focused on one, single project. Today that Partnership consists of nearly eighty ministries; a series of working groups, made up of the partner agencies, are addressing a wide range of projects related to evangelism, discipleship and leadership development. It is estimated that Kingdom resources now focused in this region is 20-30 times what it was ten years ago! And, in one of the countries where modern missionary witness was launched in the late 1800s by faithful missionaries, a special task force out of the larger Partnership has seen nearly 8,000 Muslims follow Christ in the last five years.
"How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God's people to live together in harmony! It is like the precious anointing oil running down from Aaron's head and beard, down to the collar of his robes. It is like the dew on Mount Hermon falling on the hills of Zion. That is where the Lord has promised His blessing, life that never ends." Psalm 133