The U.S. Center for World Mission
Where We've Come From, What We're Doing
A New Awareness
Dr. Ralph Winter had been teaching History of the Christian Movement for a number of years at Fuller Seminary. But each time he wrote the numbers on the blackboard, picturing in a graphic way the availability of the gospel for the world's population, he grew more troubled. Finally, on one spring afternoon, the impact of those numbers seemed to explode in his mind with startling clarity.
The conventional wisdom concerning world evangelization in the early 1970's was local church oriented. "The world could be easily evangelized," it was said, "if every local congregation of believers would only reach out and win its neighborhood to Christ"
Dr. Winter's discovery contradicted this basic assumption. At the 1974 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, he was invited to present a major address. His subject, "The Highest Priority, CrossCultural Evangelism," became one of the most fervently discussed subjects of the entire Congress. Dr. Winter contended that, if every Christian in the world were to win his neighbor to Christ; there would still be 2 1/2 billion non-Christians. Only about 20 per cent of the world's non-Christians could be reached. Over half the people in the world have never heard the gospel in culturally relevant terms.
Although Dr. Winter continued to teach at the seminary, and to develop with greater precision his understanding of the needs of world evangelization, he felt that that task was too important and too urgent to be limited to an academic institution.
Since the task was the responsibility of the whole church, a massive new movement to penetrate these final frontiers of the gospel must be initiated.
He believed the challenge must explode in a fresh way in churches across the country, and revolutionize the college campuses. These startling facts must be called to the attention of the missionarysending agencies and church denominations.
So, in mid 1977, with a skeletal staff, the United States Center for World Mission was founded. The whole intriguing story of how the Center, with literally no resources, was able to purchase a multi million dollar campus in Pasadena, is chronicled in Once More Around Jericho by Roberta Winter, Dr. Winter's wife, and co founder of the Center.
The purpose of the U.S. Center for World Mission is to stimulate a movement for Frontier Missions throughout the United States by strategizing, mobilizing, training, and serving both missions, churches, and students to the end that a viable indigenous, evangelizing church will be established within each of the 16,750 frontier people groups by the year 2000 &D.
Three undeniable facts undergird all of the ministries of the Center:
- The central theme of the Bible is that the good news of redemption must be spread cross¬culturally to touch every family (people group) in the world. (Genesis 12:1 3, Matthew 28:19, Revelation 5:9).
- There remain 16,750 people groups on earth which have no viable, indigenous, evangelizing church within their own cultural setting (language, social group, caste, etc.).
- Someone must deliberately penetrate that cultural barrier to translate the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ into culturally relevant terms, and establish Christ's church in that people group.
Because of the urgency and enormity of the task, Dr. Winter realized from the start that the U.S. Center could never reach out into 16,750 people groups. His objective was to launch a movement which would involve a committed band of at least one million evangelical Christians focusing their time and resources on the final frontier of the gospel.
To accomplish this purpose, the Center organized four major divisions to work in functional areas related to launching a movement: mission strategy, mission mobilization, mission training and mission services.
Because of his conviction that no single organization could accomplish the needed work, Dr. Winter invited a number of existing organizations to join the Center and carry out specific aspects of the overall task. In areas where no organization existed, Christian leaders and missiologists were encouraged to start new ones. So at the Center, many different organizations are working together with one overarching purpose.
In the Division of Mission Strategy
Rev. Ernest Heimbach, veteran missionary and former Home Director of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, coordinates the research and activities of the Center's independent strategy institutes, such as the Institute of Chinese Studies, Institute of Tribal Studies, Institute of Hindu Studies, etc.
Each of these research institutes works at the two fold task of identifying specific people groups beyond the ministry of an existing church, and developing strategies for establishing Christ's church within that group.
Many mission groups and denominations have loaned personnel to work at the Center. Such an arrangement not only helps advance the entire missions movement, but it benefits the loaning agency by providing a direct pipeline to the latest developments in the frontier missions movement plus personal access to the most recent thinking, information and materials. The list of agencies taking advantage of this unparalleled opportunities have included included TEAM, Conservative Baptist Foreign Missions Society, Inter Varsity, Regions Beyond Missionary Union, Campus Crusade for Christ, Africa Inland Mission, OC Ministries, and others.
The Division of Mission Mobilization
Headed by Rev. Len Bartlotti, this division has the responsibility to make the need of penetrating cultural barriers vivid for local churches and evangelical students through a variety of programs. Organizations focusing on specific segments of the Christian community help communicate the need and strategies for meeting the need.
For example, there is a Lutheran Frontier Missions office, a United Presbyterian Center for Mission Studies, an Episcopal Church Missionary Community, and organizations serving many other segments of the church. Several people are currently concerned and involved with the establishment of a Baptist office on campus.
The Division of Mission Training
Directed by Dr. Virgil Olson, former Dean of Bethel College, and also General Secretary of the Board of World Missions for the Baptist General Conference. The purpose of the division is to spark student mission awareness, and help prepare them for a productive crosscultural ministry especially in Hidden Peoples areas.
Specialized courses of study to these ends include the graduate and undergraduate courses and programs offered by William Carey International University. The year long Career Foundations program, offered in cooperation with Columbia Bible College and Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Mission provides students with the kind of Biblical and theological background required by many missions agencies. The Institute of International Studies is another of the Center's programs designed to help evangelical college students gain God's perspective on the world.
In the Division of Mission Services
Don Mowry leads a staff committed to serving the entire frontier missions movement Books, brochures, tape recordings, a computer center and other media services are available for use.
Departments and Fertile Mind
These four divisions represent major aspects of launching and strengthening a frontier missions movement They are the ongoing activities which must be carried out if the movement is to start, spread and grow to involve at least one million Christians. The Center wants to insure that none of the major necessary elements of the Christian community is neglected in its ministry, so offices have been established to especially represent and communicate with mission agencies, churches and students.
While the divisions focus on launching a movement for frontier missions, the Center also has a number of departments which enable the Center itself to grow and continue to provide leadership in the movement Center Coordinator Dave Dougherty seeks to implement and oversee the multi dimensional projects that are in process at the Center. Personnel Director Karen Ray and her staff recruit, train and assist both the Central staff of 64 and also serve the larger staff of member organizations and affiliated organizations (over 150 people).
Steve Ray, Laura and Betty Barnett form the Center's Development team, responsible for telling others about the Center and helping others share in the exciting challenge of establishing the USCWM on this campus in Pasadena. Ed Yee heads the staff in the Center's finance office to keep accurate records for those who have invested in the Center's ministry.
Much of the Center's highest priority activity is centered in the programs initiated in the fertile mind of Dr. Winter. The Frontier Fellowship, directed by Len Bartlotti, is a program involving eight Center staffers. A daily prayer guide is published by the Frontier Fellowship each month to help Frontier Prayer Partners in their daily discipline of praying, studying and giving so that the "Hidden People" groups may be reached with the gospel of Christ.
Nancy Wise supervises the new National Student Missions Mobilization Office, which is corresponding with students in groups that are interested in challenging others to involvement in Christ's global cause. Bob Coleman is involved in the Center's newest project, establishment of a Frontier People's Information Center, which will use computers to combine available information from worldwide sources to identify all the world's frontier people groups.
Yet, in the midst of the multiplicity of projects and organizations in and around the U.S. Center for World Mission, the central principle that binds the entire project is a mutual commitment and the prayer that every Hidden People group, every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation might hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
See the following pages for descriptions of some of the neighboring organizations located in and around the U.S. Center for World Mission.