Never Filled With So Much Meaning as Today
In comparing Phill Butler to John R. Mott, this article about Butler's spectacular contribution to Christian cooperation and the following article about Mott's contribution to earlier Christian cooperation may easily give a false impression.
In some ways they are opposites. Mott was as prominent in his day as Billy Graham. Butler deserves to be widely known in that sense but is not--yet. Many felt that if Mott had stepped down from his passion for global Christian partnership he easily could have been elected President of the United States.
The main difference is that Mott, riding on-and helping to guide--the incredible "Student Volunteer Movement" was able to build from the top down while Butler has started out on the field and built up to the Global level. After years of patient field-level work we now see Butler in the immensely successful Global Evangelism Roundtable where recently the Norwegians were hosts and prime movers but Phill Butler was the main spring.
In actual fact both Mott and Butler early discovered unexpected and impressive good will between different mission efforts on the field. Unexpected? Missionaries from denominations that fought like cats and dogs at home were cordial and close on the field, setting up schools for missionary kids, central shipping offices, even joint pastoral training schools.
On the other hand Butler has moved slower in the development of world-level networking (in the current phrase). He has "lived" closer to the field. Mott was quite a traveler, and a keen observer, lifting McGavran's people-group vision into global prominence, but Butler began with a focus on just one regional sphere. He spent years focused on one or two places, getting a phenomenally detailed grip of the what and how at the field level. He has then judiciously extended those concepts to "Strategic Evangelism Partnerships" in fifty other regions. The process is almost the opposite of the working of the IMC.
In both cases the common element is the solid gold reality of good will among missionaries of a kind and an extent that the donors back home could never believe.
All in all partnership has never been a theme as pregnant with meaning as today.