When the End Is In Sight
My family once spent nine months putting together a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle in our dining room, covering it with a tablecloth when we needed the table. My mom and sister worked away at it intermittently, and when I visited on weekends, I'd spend a few hours at it.
Then something happened. One weekend we realized that this task had become finishable. Suddenly, the end was in sight. And with a burst of energy we completed that puzzle.
Missions has been, even for many Christian leaders, like a puzzle that was too far from finishing to get really energized about. And most mission efforts throughout history have been pursued as individual, uncoordinated efforts to make the Gospel known where it is still unheard of or to make it better known where it is already established. The cooperation and energy available from realizing that the task is "finishable" had yet to be released.
One hundred years ago, a few keen Christian leaders caught a vision for penetrating every geographic region of the world. Their understanding was limited by today's standards, yet their vision for finishing stirred an effort that started churches, and even mission agencies, in almost every region of every political country. The mighty Korean church of today, and the revival now sweeping China, are among the fruits of those efforts. By 1910 a world-level gathering of mission leaders in Edinburgh, Scotland, was able for the first time to represent mission leaders from the two-thirds world.
More recently, several key gatherings have brought a new generation of leaders to an enthusiastic confidence that we may be ready to "finish" some significant aspects of world evangelization:
- 1974: A world-level gathering in Lausanne, Switzerland, sponsored by Billy Graham, identified linguistic and cultural distinctives as a significant barrier to spreading the Gospel to large pockets of individuals in "hidden" or "unreached" people groups.
- 1980: A second international gathering of mission leaders in Edinburgh embraced the vision for "A Church for Every People by the Year 2000." (While Scripture clearly indicates that the majority of individuals will never embrace Christ, it is just as explicit that some from "every tongue, tribe, people and nation" will some day worship the lamb--Rev. 7:9.) These representatives returned to their various countries with tremendous energy to penetrate the previously unreached groups in their own countries.
- 1989: Thomas Wang, the opening speaker at Edinburgh '80 and the new international director of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (from the 1974 meeting), gathered mission executives afresh from around the world to focus on establishing "A Church for Every People by the Year 2000."
- 1989-1994: Luis Bush (from Argentina) worked alongside Thomas Wang (from China) and John Richard (from India) to lead the exploding "AD2000 and Beyond Movement"--stirring leaders throughout the two-thirds world to cooperate in specific plans to make the Gospel available to every person through a church movement in their own culture by the year 2000!
- 1994: In preparation for a gathering of 4,000 leaders in Korea in May of 1995, 235 leaders from 60 countries gathered in Colorado Springs in late November. They reported incredible miracles, cooperation and advances for the Gospel, and refined clear strategies to cross the remaining barriers to the spread of the Gospel in their countries and to send missionaries to other parts of the world. A beautiful sense of unity and worship permeated the conference as God brought to greater fulfillment than ever before Jesus' prayer "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:21).
For most of those present in Colorado Springs, that week seemed to parallel my experience with the jigsaw puzzle. The Church has "worked at" world evangelization for nearly two millenia, but a sudden awareness that The End Is In Sight is catalyzing worldwide cooperation, strategy and energy unprecedented since the time of Christ. World leaders are increasingly convinced that "A Church for Every People" is possible, and that if it is possible we must do everything in our power to make it happen. Will you invest your prayer and resources with us in seeing this happen? If you would like to support the AD2000 and Beyond Movement, you may write to them at
AD2000 and Beyond Movement 2860 South Circle Drive, Suite 2112 Colorado Springs, CO 80906 or phone (719) 576-2000