As I See It÷Looking at '87 and to the Year 2000
by Ralph D. Winter
My thesis is that 1986 in this century will soon clearly compare to the year 1886. One hundred years ago that year (not realized at the time) was the threshold to the greatest explosion in Christian world outreach that had ever occurred in history up to that time.
I realize that history does not mechanically repeat itself. I realize that many things are quite different.
I am convinced÷and I want to try to give you this same confidence right here÷ that there are plenty of things that are the same to believe that we are in for a new, bigger explosion than ever!
In the United States alone, since 1950, 358 new mission agencies have formed, and the number of missionaries has almost doubled.
In the Non-Western world a whole, virtually new mission industry has jumped into existence÷400 known mission agencies sending more than 20,000 crosscultural workers.
The pessimism, wars, and hopelessness of the 1930's through the '60s is now dramatically gone.
The 40 small wars across the globe distract us from the fact that prior to the colonial era there were probably 4000 wars taking place - the sort of reversion that we see in some former colonies right now.
The global community of university students constitutes some of the most fertile ground for dramatic change: In the country of Singapore'HALF of the university students are Christian. The number pouring into the U.S.A. will soon reach the million mark.
What About 1986?
2. Largest student mission conference in the history of Canada - met in Hamilton, Ontario in a huge convention center - put on by STUDENT MISSION ADVANCE, which is the first national level student mission organization since the SVM which got started in 1886.
3. The number of large regional student mission conferences in the U.S.A. (involving IVCF, CCC, Navs, ISI, etc.) DOUBLED: already, GO '85 (South East), GAP '85 (Florida), VISION '85 (North East), SCOWE '85 (Pasadena)÷but in 1986 there were all these in their '86 version, PLUS MANDATE '86 (Midwest), PROCLAIM '86 (Portland), FRESNO '86, and announced, HARVEST '87 (MNPLS-upper midwest, MANDATE this year in Indiana).
4. Caleb Resources sent out four "traveling vans" last fall and met face to face with 17,000 students in 3 months. And, 700 more students signed,up ....
5. As 8,000 local pastors and evangelists gathered at Amsterdam the whole world saw positive proof that the missionary movement has worked!
6. A much smaller meeting was held in October, in Pasadena, California, the fast world-level meeting of what might be called mission-field mission societies. From Nigeria, Argentina, Indonesia, India, Korea, etc., these men represented directly or indirectly about 400 such organizations sprouting up from within the overseas "national" churches in former mission lands, already sending out about 20,000 missionaries.
Many other spine-tingling events occurred in 1986, but you can catch the momentum building up. IT IS THE EVIDENCE OF A GLOBAL REVIVAL that we are expecting to see: nothing less than global "Spiritual Awakening and World Evangelization." To use David Barren's suggested term: "A Global Evangelization Movement."
The two things to look for are 1) "CLOSURE"÷e.g. statements or meetings concerned with the COMPLETION OF THE UNFINISHED TASK, and 2) "COUNTDOWN" thinking which has the year 2000 or some other date in mind when the goal might be reached.
These two items are "task/date" or "countdown," which includes both:
1. November, 1987 in Brazil: THE FIRST NEAR-GLOBAL, SPECIFICALLY MISSION CONFERENCE OF CHURCH AND MISSION LEADERS.
This $2 million-budget meeting is commonly referred to as COMIBAM '87, and we treated it in depth as a cover story last year, but nothing like this has ever linked all the Spanish and Portuguese leaking countries of the world. The closest parallel would be highly educated and well-heeled international "Overseas" Chinese Christian sphere, but it is tiny by comparison.
2. June, 1987 in Singapore: This Lausanne-sponsored "Younger Leaders" conference will gather some 300 in their 30s and 40s, not necessarily mission oriented, but considered susceptible to that kind of vision.
3. September, 1987 in Orlando, Florida (just after the joint IFMA/EFMA meeting): The second meeting of the new Society for Frontier Missiology, a group of scholars and executives devoted precisely to the subject of closure and countdown thinking in mission.
4. July, 1987 in New Orleans: A 60,000 (?) meeting in the charismatic sphere, on "The Holy Spirit and World Evangelization." A runner-up conference in 1986 drew 5,000 leaders, and was slightly on world evangelization. The main conference may give greater emphasis to world evangelization. To what extent "closure" and "countdown" thinking will be present remains to be seen.
Spawned by the Committee on the Holy Spirit and Frontier Missions located on our campus, this meeting of 60,000 could possibly be the largest gathering of human beings in history focused exclusively on world evangelization (unless you consider the final night of the 1980 meeting of Christians in Korea, which drew 2.5 million!).
We must mention the great potential of the Global Prayer Digest in '87, with new large groups in the process of exploiting its potential (now broadcast over 500 times a day in the U.S. alone).
Will the Adopt-A-People program of many agencies line up 5,000 congregations in 1987?
And will the U.S. Center for World Mission pay off its campus?
EXPECT GREAT THINGS FROM GOD; ATTEMPT GREAT THINGS FOR GOD!