George Bush, Jimmy Carter, Paul Newman and I are all the same age (Dole is older).
True, the four of us who are 70-year-olds have not all travelled in the same circles!
But yesterday in church it occurred to me that I am getting so old now that I am one of very few people in the world who is both alive and not yet retired, and who has attended almost every major global consultation on world evangelization since the famous Lausanne Congress in 1974. Much of what you find in the little-known story on pages 44-51 is from personal experience.
However, I was involved deeply in missions far earlier than 1974. On that, let me speak personally in depth--but don't think this is an obituary!
When I had just turned 22 years old in December of 1946, I hitchhiked round-trip through snow and sleet to Toronto, Canada from Princeton, New Jersey to attend the first Intervarsity Student Mission Convention, later to be called "Urbana."
From that moment fifty years ago I began thinking almost non-stop about global missions.
It helped that I grew up in a very mission-minded church or the conference might not have had as much influence. The very day I returned from that first Urbana student meeting I put to use something I had learned there in a workshop led by Clyde Taylor about "tentmaking missionaries." Back at school my eyes lighted on a news item in the United Evangelical Action magazine of the National Association of Evangelicals reporting the government of Afghanistan calling for "22 American teachers of English."
I began immediately to write up a detailed super-secret document laying out a plan for penetrating this mountain kingdom by rounding up 22 evangelicals to go there to teach English.
I then sent a copy of my write-up to Christy Wilson, Jr. who headed Intervarsity's new Student Missions Division. (He had organized that Toronto conference.)
He confidentially circulated that document to all 70 of the North American campus staff of Intervarsity at that time. It went elsewhere, too. Quite a few people eventually answered this call. Alas, by the time my wife and I ourselves were sufficiently trained to go there to teach English, that door was temporarily closed and we began praying about joining the ranks of full-time missionaries working under standard mission agencies. Now watch the decades go by:
Decade One 1946-56, age 22 to 32 But I wasted a lot of time getting to the field--it took me ten years beyond the pre-Urbana meeting in Toronto! During those ten years I earned an M.A. at Columbia University in Teaching English as a Second Language (and married on the run); a Ph.D. at Cornell in linguistics, anthropology, and mathematical statistics; a seminary degree at Princeton; and spent a year in language study in Costa Rica--a decade of schooling beyond college just to get to work!
Decade Two 1956-66, age 32 to 42 Then, finally, for another decade we were absorbed in the mountains of Guatemala, working with a network of churches among a Mayan tribal people. What we learned in that decade would take 500 pages to tell. However, one of the projects we got involved in there attracted the attention of a new school at Fuller Seminary.
Decade Three 1966-76, age 42 to 52 I joined the faculty of the new Fuller School of World Mission, where I got to know a thousand missionaries from all over the globe. What we learned there would take 100 pages to tell. One unexpected insight came from the fact that as a missionary my wife and I were both under orders. But at Fuller my wife was officially not involved. I alone was hired--by contrast, a very defective culture pattern.
Decades Four and Five 1976-95, age 52 to 70 During this period my wife and I have been working together again as equal members of a mission agency--one of our own founding, the Frontier Mission Fellowship. For these nineteen years this agency has been engrossed in establishing a major new mission center (including a specialized university) where dozens of languages are spoken by different members of our staff from many parts of the world. What we have learned here would take another 500 pages. Lesson One: Don't try something new, completely new, because you will not be able to explain what it is by using parallels to something else!
This place has been likened to the Pentagon, to a think-tank, etc., but those parallels are seriously amiss. We command no troops. Our only power is influence. Ten thousand receive our little Global Prayer Digest. Well over a 100,000 receive this bulletin, Mission Frontiers. Over 25,000 have taken our 150-hour course, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, and another 100,000 have dealt with its textbook which is used in 100 schools. Can you measure the impact of a 150-hour course on 25,000 key church members in this country alone? (About that same number have taken the course under other auspices in other languages in other countries.)
Then also, 200 of our staff have joined other agencies to go to the ends of the earth, carrying frontier vision with them.
Our vision itself is revived and nurtured by marvelous people who
come through our center. Let me give some current examples:
Three Wise Men from… INDIA: Ebenezer Sunder Raj was here last week. His organization serves 10,037 missionaries in 85 mission agencies rooted in India. His office publishes marvelous analyses of the various states of India. His research workers are tracking down the state of affairs in all 27,000 zip code there, etc. Look, India is the largest single bloc of unreached mankind and the furthest away theologically--and it has the largest association of mission agencies (see the "mass" on page four). Do you want seriously to track the countdown of God in India? Get the official quarterly publication Indian Missions. Send $5 to the India Missions Association, Post Box 2529, Madras 600 030, India.
LATIN AMERICA: Also last week came the key man for missions in all of Latin America, Rudy Giron, head of COMIBAM, ("Cooperation in Missions in Ibero-Americana"), which is the most vital regional mission structure in the world today, including all of Latin America and 6 million Hispanic evangelicals in the United States. This organization, too, is doing wonderful things. Get their publication, called Ellos, done by one of the most famous editors in Latin America, with a beautiful color cover, etc. Brush up on your Spanish in the process (a few pages are in Portuguese). Send $10 for a year (including Volume One, Number One!) to COMIBAM, Post Office Box 970648, Miami, FL 33197.
THE WORLD: This week Luis Bush is with us. God has used him in miraculous fashion on the global level to catalyze the largest network of key leaders ever to be tied together in the vision of establishing "A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person by the Year 2000." This network is more extensive than the World Council of Churches, the United Nations, the Lausanne Committee, even the World Evangelical Fellowship. Alas, its central office runs on a shoestring, and it does not have its own periodical. But we do try to carry news about the AD2000 Movement and Beyond.
In fact, our next issue will consist of a full-blown presentation of the most ambitious global research project ever to be conceived-- AD2000's amazing new "Joshua Project." It was conceived years ago by Steve Hawthorne (who helped produce the Perspectives Reader), and is designed to be a massive on-site exploration of the remaining unreached people groups. The idea has now caught a mighty tailwind born of the incredible global dynamism of the GCOWE '95 meeting in Korea. No single strategy for reaching the world has ever catalyzed a larger network of cooperating human entities. It is a breathtaking achievement.
Back to India However, already moving in the same direction (of heartwarming collaboration) is the India Missions Association which I mentioned on page four (see box) and here in column one. Marvel at this list of 81 of its 85 agencies (and the number of missionaries right after the agency name). These numbers add up to 10,037 missionaries sent out by believers in India):
India Every Home Crusade/800, Friends Missionary Prayer Band/714, Indian Evangelical Team /639, India Campus Crusade for Christ/580, Native Missionary Movement/457, India Evangelical Mission/430, Youth With A Mission/420, Christ for India Movement/417, Christian Believers' Assembly Fellowship/400, Nagaland Missionary Movement/400, Operation Mobilisation/400, South India Soul Winners Association/277, Navjeevan Seva Mandal/250, Gospel Echoing Missionary Society/212, Bible Society of India/200, Gospel in Action Fellowship India/180, Blessing Youth Mission/175, Vishwa Vani/160, Faith Outreach/152, Faith in Action/150, India Evangelistic Association/131, Christian Outreach Uplifting New Tribes/130, Maranatha Full Gospel Association/130, National Missionary Society/127, Diocesan Missionary Prayer Band/120, Church Growth Missionary Movement/112, Uesi Missions Department/111, Jatiyo Kristiyo Prochar Samity/110, Inter Mission/102, India Bible Literature/100, India Gospel League/99, The Pocket Testament League (India)/86, Kashmir Evangelical Fellowship/81, Tribal Mission/76, Child Evangelism Fellowship/71, India Christian Mission Centre/70, Interserve (India)/52, Orissa Followup Ministry/52, United Fellowship for Christian Services/50, India for Christ Ministries/49, India Church Growth Mission/45, Great Commission Movement Trust/44, Maharashtra Village Ministries/42, Assn. for Garhwal's Advancement/Prosperity/& Evangelisation/38, Amar Jyoti India/36, Gilgal Gospel Mission/32, India Gospel Outreach and Social Action/30, Quiet Corner India/30, Tamil Villages Gospel Mission/30, India Fellowship for Visually Handicapped/29, Fellowship of Evangelical Friends/28, India Bible Translators/28, Rural Blessings Mission/25, National Fellowship/23, Gospel Recordings Association/20, King of Kings Ministries/20, Christian Endeavour for Hill Tribes/18, Commission on Mission and Evangelism/18, Yavatmal College for Leadership Training/17, India Outreach Mission/15, Mission for Andaman & Nicobar/15, Christian Missions Charitable Trust/14, Rainbow Evangelical Association/14, Zeliangrong Baptist Missionary Movement/14, Life in Christ Ministries/13, Christian Foundation for the Blind/12, Fellowship for Neighbours India/12, Bethel Bible Institute/11, Revival Literature Fellowship/11, Tribal Outreach Mission/11, Evangelical Medical Fellowship of India/10, Nutan Aalo/10, World Cassette Outreach/10, Agni Ministries/8, Sadhu Sundersingh Evangelistic Association/8, The Hill Gospel Fellowship/7, Al Bashir/6, Bethany Fellowship/6, Cross Bearers Missionary Movement/5
Then, the IMA is aware of 240 Christian schools in India, many of which produce graduates who become missionaries. Of these 240 schools The IMA publishes a list of 79 which are specifically "Missionary Training Centres." The sixty listed below have 4,895 students in training! Note the dates when these schools were founded! See the explosion? 1940s,2 new schools 1950s,5 new schools 1960s,1 new schools 1970s,6 new schools 1980s,16 new schools 1990s,30 new schools
Dear Reader: The 4,895 students in these schools are giving their lives to the cause of missions. They are putting aside other things.
What about you? Are you putting aside lesser things so that you can give "Your Utmost for His Highest?"
Ponder this: "God reserves the best for those who leave the choice with Him." Come and visit us in Pasadena. We are seriously understaffed. Too many letters, phone calls, visitors (and jobs). Call me at 818-799-8339, RDW
Sidebars From Editorial Page Ebenezer Sunder Raj How could a civil engineering professor in India suddenly become the most important man in the world today in regard to the strategic administration of the work of mission agencies?
Easy. You be the creative, productive General Secretary of the India Missions Association. What's that? More missionaries work for the 85 member missions of this association than are to be found in any other association of mission agencies in any country, including the West.
No other association of mission agencies has conducted more research into what remains to be done, and published the results. No other such association has published a list of missionary training institutions in its country. None other has produced a book on how to found, establish and run a mission agency. The IMA leads the world in these ways.
Will you miss God's best? Millions of Americans in their thirties and forties are now furiously working toward a college degree. Why? How?
In a quiet revolution across the last fifteen years, a major change has taken place in higher education., The Baby Boom slumped and left colleges and universities high and dry with only half as many students "of college student age" (18-22). Not to go bankrupt they changed some of the rules and over half of all college students today are not college age! The large majority of these are studying off campus.
But what are they studying? Things that are useful, perhaps, but often not very profound. Secular education is seriously lacking in vitamins in any case.
Would you like to be a serious Christian worker, lay or ordained? Would you like to cover seminary studies toward either a college degree or a masters degree? This is now possible under fully accredited schools. Anyone with the native intelligence can do that and still hold a job, etc. Write Dr. Ben Sells for info on the World Christian Foundations Curriculum--to address below, ask for "WCF Info BA or MA." Or phone Ben Sells at: 818-398-2184