The Asia Challenge
"To Awaken the Churches"
--by Dr. Edwin L. (Jack) Frizen
Seoul. Home of some of the largest churches in the world. In Korea, a country that 90 years ago was deemed "impenetrable by the Gospel" and now is nearly 35% Christian.
Asia. Comprising half the world's population and thousands of totally unreached people groups.
With more than 37,000 missionaries worldwide now coming from the Two- Thirds World, it's high time we in the West knew what God is doing to mobilize the awesome mission forces of the East. Dr. Frizen, Executive Director of the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association, will present the following report at the IFMA meetings September 18th--the joint IFMA-EFMA executives' retreat in Denver, Colorado:
"World Mission: The Asian Challenge" was the theme of Asia Missions Congress '90 held August 27-31 in Seoul, Korea. The Evangelical Fellowship of Asia sponsored the congress which was eighteen months in preparation. Hosts were the Korea Evangelical Fellowship and the 25,000-member Choong Hyun Presbyterian Church that made its ample facilities available for all the sessions of the congress.
The 1,250 participants and speakers were overwhelmingly Asian pastors, missionaries and other Christian workers. I was one of the 52 church and mission leaders invited from Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America. As observers, we were included in all AMC activities. Fifty countries, mostly Asian, were represented.
The thoroughly conservative evangelical congress was conducted from start to finish with a balanced blend of worship, celebration and missiological teaching based solidly on the Word of God. The purpose of the gathering was clearly stated as follows:
To review and reevaluate the past work of missions in Asia and to analyze the current needs and to strategize for the future advancement of Christ's kingdom in Asia.
To awaken the churches in Asia for missions involvement and responsibility.
To mobilize the churches in Asia for mission in an increasing measure.
To promote better cooperation in training, networking and partnership in missions among churches and mission agencies in Asia.
In his keynote address, Dr. Theodore Williams, India mission leader and president of the World Evangelical Fellowship, gave a powerful exposition of the congress theme. He outlined a clear agenda for the meeting and for Asian churches and mission until the return of our Lord.
Among the important plenary sessions were:
An Historical Analysis of Mission in Asia by Dr. Bong Rin Ro of Overseas Missionary Fellowship, Asian Theological Association and the Theological Commission of the WEF;
Report of the AMC '90 Research Track Committee by Rev. Howard Peskett of OMF;
Two-Thirds World Mission and World Evangelization by Dr. Larry Keyes of Overseas Crusades Ministries;
Church and Mission Relationship by Rev. Jun Vercer, general secretary fo the Philippine Council of Christian Churches.
A compendium of the total congress is envisioned pending funding. All other expenses of the congress have been met, with the majority of funds coming from Asia.
Asian Commitment to the Task
Four of the ten committments made refer specifically to local churches in Asia:
1. To make the great commission the primary focus of our personal ministry, and that of the churches and organizations we represent.
2. To do all possible to ensure that the cause of world evangelization becomes an integral part of the life of every local church, association of churches and denominations.
3. To mobilize the entire membership of local congregations to pray, give, and send or go, regardless of their economic or political status.
4. To ensure that missions is made an essential part of every level of Christian education in our local churches and institutions.
During one of the sessions, pastors were asked to stand. It appeared that a large majority of participants were pastors. If these pastors follow through with the committments enthusiastically approved in the AMC '90 Declaration, the cause of world evangelization should be greatly strengthened by the participation of the churches represented.
Follow-up of the congress was committed to Dr. David Lee of Korea and the AMC Coordinating Committee, which represents the leadership of the Evangelical Fellowship of Asia (EFA).
Throughout the sessions of the Asia Mission Congress '90, the importance of the World Evangelical Fellowship was highlighted. At the concluding service the WEF International Executive Council members were introduced. It was announced that Dr. Agustin B. (Jun) Vancer, Jr. of the Philippines had accepted the Council's invitation to become the next international director to succeed Dr. David Howard after the 9th General Assembly in 1992. The World Evangelical Fellowship is a key organization in the preservation of a conservative evangelical position world wide.
The overall sense of commitment expressed during the conference is probably best seen in the official declaration of Asia Mission Congress '90:
THE ASIAN RESPONSE
We, the 1302 participants and observers from 50 nations, have gathered in Seoul, Korea in August 1990 for the Asia Missions Congress. We acknowledge the timeliness of this historic Congress, the first of its kind in Asia. We give thanks to God for both the inspiration given to the Evangelical Fellowship of Asia in sponsoring this Congress, and the generosity of the Korea Evangelical Fellowship and the Choong Hyun Presbyterian Church in hosting it.
We look back in gratitude to the sacrificial and fruitful labors of missionaries, mostly from the West, who faithfully sowed the seed of the gospel through which the Church has been planted in our lands over the past 200 years.
While we have been disappointed by some of the cultural insensitivities of those who have brought the gospel to our lands, we confess we have been guilty of similar cultural domination in some of our own missionary endeavors.
We look to the present in praise to God for the growth and maturing of the Church in Asia. As evidence of this we rejoice in the rapid growth and development of the Asian missionary movement. We therefore renew our commitment to complete the task of world missions in reliance upon the Holy Spirit.
We have gathered to look to the future in faith believing that God purposes to use us to carry the gospel to every part of our own continent, and beyond, to the entire unevangelized world. We are deeply aware of the exciting opportunities before us for evangelism in a chaotic and changing world. We pledge our best efforts to ensure that this Congress will effect an urgent and complete mobilization of the Asian Church for the purposes of world evangelism.
- The absolute authority of the inerrant Scriptures in our lives, and that therein God reveals His redemptive plan to incorporate those of every race, tribe, people and tongue in the Church, the body of Christ.
- The lostness of all mankind in sin and that it is only through faith in Christ Jesus, the unique and eternal Son of God, that salvation and reconciliation with God is obtained.
- The importance and urgency of the Great Commission to make disciples of all peoples which is to be obeyed by every Christian in all parts of the world.
- The centrality of the local church as God's instrument for world evangelization, and for the necessity of every part of the Church, including agencies and institutions, to work in missions with unity of purpose.
- The sufficiency of the gospel as revealed in the Scriptures to meet the need of all mankind whatever his spiritual, physical, cultural, economic or ideological condition may be.
We commit ourselves:
- To make the Great Commission the primary focus of our personal ministry, and that of the churches and organizations we represent.
- To do all possible to ensure that the cause of world evanglization become an integral part of the life of every local church, association of churches and denominations.
- To research the status of evangelization in our nations by:
a. Establishing, supporting and developing national,research centers.
b. Analyzing the status and growth of the Church.
c. Identifying the less evangelized segments of the national population--whether people groups, cities, or regions.
d. Disseminating the results of that research to national churches and agencies to encourage thinking, stimulate ,,prayer and the development of strategies for missions.
4. To mobilize the entire membership of local congregations to pray, give and send or go regardless of their economic or political status.
5. To a partnership in world evagelization within the body of Christ, to counteract the divisions that have often hindered us, that is between:
a. churches and mission agencies,
b. national and international bodies,
c. missionaries of different nationalities on fields.
6. To ensure that missions is made an essential part of every level of Christian education in our local churches and institutions.
7. To provide adequate training for prospective and in-service missionaries within their own country where possible.
8. To make full use of all ministries for the most effective evangelization of the unreached.
9. To set up the ongoing mechanisms and structures that will unite us in the implementation of these commitments made at AMC '90. , 10. To a personal and corporate ministry of prayer in dependence on the Holy Spirit and His power as an essential prerequisite for revival in the Church, effective spiritual warfare and the accomplishment of these visions.
We give praise to God for AMC '90. God has met with us here. We have heard the challenge of world missions, and we, the Christians and churches of Asia, respond by taking up that challenge. We call on all fellow believers to the same. We expect a great harvest in this decade and, ultimately, the realization of the biblical vision of Revelation 7:9-10. "...a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes...."
Editor's Note: As laudable as the Asian Mission Conference '90 was, is it not odd that throughout the proceedings, very little mention seems to have been made about the completion of mission to the unreached peoples? Did AMC '90 copy the oversights of some Western mission experience which bypasses emphasis on the unreached and closure in favor of addressing the concerns of national churches? (See Dr. Winter's comments page 2.) We welcome clarification from any particpants in AMC '90. --Bill Stearns