The U.S. Center for World Mission
Ralph Winter’s vision for the U.S. Center for World Mission was to create a forum in which mission leaders and agencies could collaborate together in the advance of God’s Kingdom. It was also a laboratory for experimenting with new structures, projects and movements, as well as an incubator for nurturing these new beginnings into effective tools for global mission.
A number of organizations, which later rose to prominence, were started or held offices on the Pasadena campus in their formative years. A good example is Frontiers, which began as a one-room-office operation in a building called Hudson Taylor Hall. Over the years, as Frontiers grew it was able to expand into even larger facilities as required. As a new sending structure with a unique focus on the Muslim world, they were able to benefit from the dozens of other groups undergoing similar foundational formation on the Pasadena campus. Next to Frontiers was the Zwemer Institute, which did research and training for ministry in the Muslim world. Across the campus was Global Mapping International, gathering data on the progress of the gospel among all the world’s peoples and presenting research in a useful format for mission leaders and planners. Downstairs from GMI was DAWN Ministries, which became instrumental in forming national saturation church-planting strategies in almost every country in the world. Across the way was Global Opportunities, which was cataloging “open doors” for “tentmakers” in restricted access nations. And then there was Caleb Project, organized to see a new generation of young people raised up to fill these new organizations with the required manpower to move forward in finishing the task.
Linking many of these ministries together, not only in Pasadena but also around the world, was AD2000, chaired by Thomas Wang, whose goal it was to facilitate the vision of a “Church for Every People by the Year 2000.” The AD2000 and Beyond Movement became a global network, linking thousands of mission organizations around the world with one common goal—bringing the gospel to every “nation, tribe, people and language.”
In order to achieve significant inter-mission cooperation, the Center was (and is) divided into four major divisions: Strategy, Mobilization, Training and Services. This four-fold division encompassing the major mission components required to reach the final frontiers has become a model for many mission networks, structures and related centers around the world. The U.S. Center model has inspired the formation of such groups as the Singapore Centre for Evangelism and Mission, COMIMEX in Mexico, and Vision City (part of the India Mission Association) in India—all of which are, or are becoming hubs of the missions movement in their country. Such centers are linked together by the Global Network of Centers for World Mission, which is now led primarily by non-Western mission leaders.
Today, the U.S. Center for World Mission continues the legacy of its founder by serving the missions movement with such programs and ministries as the course, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, Adopt-A-People, Joshua Project, William Carey Library, Mission Frontiers, the Global Prayer Digest, the World Christian Foundations curriculum and the International Journal for Frontier Missiology. And through its sister centers around the world, these ministries are now taking on a global impact, having been adapted in multiple ways to serve numerous national missions movements (the Korean edition of the Global Prayer Digest is now the fastest-growing with over 40,000 subscribers!).
We look forward to participating and leading in a new era of inter-mission cooperation that will move the gospel forward into the remaining frontiers of Kingdom advance. What Donald McGavran said many years ago remains true, “We are not in the sunset of missions, but the sunrise.” There is still much work to be done in the harvest fields of the world, in prayer, in learning, in engaging the peoples of the earth. Our prayer is that God would continually enable us to play a strategic role towards that end, to see His Kingdom come and will be done here on earth, as it is in heaven.