Laborers for the Harvest: Baptist Laborers
The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptists (IMB) welcomed 338 long-term workers to the field in 1998. Additionally, they've sent 547 two-year workers. Together, the figures represent a 33.4 percent increase over 1997, roughly ten times the average growth rate of missionaries in North America. Though pleased, IMB President Jerry Rankin says the growth simply parallels "unprecedented numbers of unfilled needs, requests and opportunities."
Global Prayer Digest Gets New Look
The sister publication of Mission Frontiers, the Global Prayer Digest's (GPD) June issue is receiving a face-lift, complete with improved maps and a more contemporary designadding to its ease of use and appeal to all readers.
The GPD provides daily selections for prayer focused on unreached people groups around the world.
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Preparing for the "New World Missions Congress for the Third Millennium:" A Striking Display of Mission from the Emerging World Japan to host their first world missions congress, aiming to foster partnerships from the two-thirds world.
An international team (L-R): Hisham Kamel (Egypt), Monoru Okuyama (Chairman of TWMA, Japan) and Obed Alvarez (Peru) are among key leaders for the New World Missions Congress.
WHEN PLANNING A MEETING FOR 2,000 key non-Western Christian mission leaders representing some 300,000 missionaries from the two-thirds world for the express purpose of cooperating to advance the missions cause for the unreached, a sense of optimism may well be justified.
The Nipon Revival Association (NRA, an association of Japanese churches) will host what is, at least in its scope, an unprecedented meeting for missions from the two-thirds world. Monuru Okuyama, president of the NRA hopes the event will stir Japan, "giving them an open eye to what's happening in the world."
To be held October 25-31, the "New World Missions Congress for the Third Millennium" (http://www.rcp.net.pe/twma) will mark the tenth anniversary of the Third World Missions Association (TWMA)an association of associations that represents 1,500 agencies from Asia, Africa and Latin America. The vision of this congress"the evangelization of Muslims, Buddhists, religions from India and the New Age Movement" highlights the TWMA's personal recognition of what key Christian leaders have been saying for over a decade: The key movers in the fulfillment of the Great Commission will be missionaries and agencies from the non-Western world.
As far back as 1986, Dr. Ralph Winter, among others, recognized that "Mission in the remaining part of the century will clearly be dominated by the Third World, not the West." According to figures provided by Interdev, by the year 2002, 60 percent of missionaries worldwide will be from the non-Western, two-thirds world. With a growth rate of missionaries that is nearly four times that of the Western world (over 13 percent), missiologists are right to recognize the need to take note. If the staggering growth rate of non-Western missionaries continues, the day is not far off when missionaries from the Western world will be, at least numerically, dwarfed.
The efforts of the New World Congress will be to lay a groundwork for partnerships. Obed Alvarez, founder of the Peruvian-based AMEN (Associacion Misionera Evangelica a las Naciones) recognizes that the event itself is not a consummation of anything, rather "it is a beginning really. We are hoping to follow up with a networking system" to build on the Kyoto Congress. Dr. Hisham Kamel, President of the Arabic Communication Center, shares Alvarez's conviction, though he warns against models that may, by design, be paternalistic. "It's the time for the Western and the third world countries to work in partnershipnot in the older ways when the boss or the director was always Western/white and then they hire some people to do the job in different countries. It is time for us to be partnersyou need me and I need you. So how can we work together in the third millennium to achieve the Great Commission?"
Key leaders slated to address the congress include Dr. Thomas Wang (AD 2000 and Beyond), Dr. Paul Cedar (Lausanne Committee) and Dr. Ralph Winter (U.S. Center for World Mission). While they certainly have a fair cross-section of Western speakers, they have made a clear attempt to highlight a number of formidable leaders from their own ranks, including Dr. Martin Alphonse, Methodist missions leader from India, Jacob Nahuway from Indonesia and Panya Baba from Africa.
Alvarez, a board member for the TWMA, genuinely believes that this congress represents "A new beginning: So many groups are thinking that everything will be over by the year 2000. But for us, as New World Missions, it is a beginning, it's all positive." Seeking to avoid what can be a diminutive stereotype of the "Third World," the TWMA will capitalize on this upcoming congress and consider a change of name; a likely title: the New World Missions Association.
Founded in 1989 under the initial chairmanship of Dr. David Cho (Korea), the TWMA was an outgrowth of the Asian Missions Association (AMA). As the ranks of non-Asian representation in AMA grew, leaders recognized the need for an additional, broader umbrellathus the formation of the TWMA.
Significantly, the New World Congress will make a deliberate effort to include key mission leaders from the Middle East, a region often overlooked when thinking of Christian mission workers. Some 50 to 60 leaders are expected from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Sudan.
Wycliffe USA Finds Room to Grow in Orlando
Huntington Beach, California
Wycliffe Bible Translators USA has formally announced plans to move their headquarters from Huntington Beach, California to Orlando, Florida. According to Executive Director Roy Peterson the move "is not about new or better buildings. Our focus is Vision 2000reaching the 2000-plus Bible-less people groups...in this generation." Wycliffe's sister organization, SIL, currently has a staff of some 4,000 serving more than 1,000 language groups worldwide.
A Shift in Leadership for Pioneers
After ten years as U.S. Director of Pioneers, overseeing the organization through explosive growth to more than 600 staff worldwide, John Fletcher has announced his plans to move onnot accepting an offer for a third, five-year term. Fletcher and his wife, Celia, have expressed their desire to stay on with Pioneers, serving in another capacity.
While a search committee pursues a permanent replacement, Jack Frizen, Jr. will serve as Acting U.S. Director. With a new headquarters in Orlando, Pioneers has workers in 42 countries, serving some 90 people groups.
Global Evangelization Roundtable
International Christian leaders create a New Framework for Cooperation in World Evangelization.
Representatives of the major international evangelical networks met in Hurdal, Norway, March 21st to 25th 1999 to discuss their relationships and develop a new framework for cooperation into the new millennium.
The conference, hosted by the Norwegian Missionary Council, was called by the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and the World Evangelical Fellowship.
Historic differences were laid aside in an atmosphere of prayer and humility as the participants explored the core values which they share in common. There was unanimous support for a new framework marked by an evangelistic vision, a common basis of faith rooted in a Biblical, historic, evangelical Christianity and a recognition of the centrality of the local church in world evangelization. In seeking a new platform for cooperation the conference participants committed themselves to creating a cooperative vehicle that serves all parts of the Body of Christ: affirming a plurality of ministries and different regional and national distinctives.
In a spirit of expectancy, the conference proposed the establishment of a Global Evangelization Forum to provide a new evangelical platform for cooperation in fulfilling the task of world evangelization as we enter the 21st century. The Global Evangelization Forum will function as an open, inclusive, horizontal partnership designed to encourage wide participation and facilitate collaboration between geographical and functional groups. The major networks represented at the conference expressed a strong commitment to align their ministries with this development and to participate fully in the proposed Forum.
A working committee proposed the establishment of the Global Evangelization Roundtable/Forum (GER) as a new evangelical platform for cooperation in fulfilling the task of world evangelization in the 21st Century. They proposed the following qualities in such a forum:
- The GER is a network of networks, such as a continuing component of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, the World Evangelical Fellowship (in particular its Mission Commission) and other Evangelical networks (geographic and functional) serving the cause of world evangelization.
- The GER stands in the stream of Biblical, historic Christianity, with a special appreciation for the Evangelical heritage, including the Lausanne Covenant. The GER is committed to mobilizing the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.
- The function of the leadership in the GER will be a facilitative one, able to articulate and release the vision.
- As a roundtable, the GER operates with a "flat", open, inclusive and non-bureaucratic structure.
- We propose the naming of an ongoing Working Committee consisting of representatives of major networks, charged with the task of working out a formal, concrete plan for the establishment of the GER in the year 2001, that will be considered by the major networks.
From AD 2000 and Beyond