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April 1988


Editorial Comment

The Momentous Question

Leadership '88: It's Time for a New Generation to Join Tegether

Leadership 88: Will Confusion Give Way to Cooperation?

Around the World

Can God No Longer Afford North American Missionaries?

Regional Mobilizers' Workshops Off to a Good Start!

Los Angeles '88: Heir Apparent to the Spirit of COMIBAM

Fred & Margaret Achenbach-- Pure Gold for the Kingdom

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Los Angeles ’88:

Heir Apparent to the
Spirit of COMIBAM

by John Holzmann

Other leaders of Los Angeles ’88 may have yet to catch the “can do” spirit of COMIBAM ’87 (see MF, January 1988), but there is little doubt Congress President Alberto Mottesi has.

According to Doug Smith, director of the Institute of Latin American Studies at the U.S. Center for World Mission, Mottesi has made it clear that LA ’88, to be held July 25 through 29 this year at the Anaheim Convention Center, has expanded its horizons. Originally billed as “Congreso Internacional para la Evangelizacion del Mundo Latino” (“International Congress for the Evangelization of the Latin World”) its focus will no longer be limited to the Latin world, but will encompass all the remaining unreached peoples.

When the LA ’88 brochure was put together sometime prior to COMIBAM ’87, exactly one workshop out of 108 was scheduled to focus on anything even closely resembling frontier missions—ministry to peoples without the gospel. The title of that workshop: Cross-Cultural Evangelism.

Such evangelism, as some missiologists are fond of pointing out, may involve bringing the Gospel to a people among whom it is not already resident, but, far more likely, it is as unworthy of the title ‘missions’ as is the work of an Hispanic church that sends one of its best and brightest members to help Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena evangelize Anglos in downtown Pasadena. A nice gesture, perhaps; maybe even helpful; but hardly necessary from a strategic perspective.

The rest of the workshops at LA ’88 were to be by Hispanics for Hispanics concerning Hispanic evangelism.

Not anymore, says Smith. “It is time for us Hispanics to shift from being a mission field to becoming missionaries ourselves,” Mottesi stated in the February “LA ’88 Petitions for Prayer” sheet.

Then, during a chapel service at the Fuller School of World Mission on February 11th, he declared, “We need to put more workshops on missions into the program.”

Mottesi said Congress organizers are going to add three or four more workshops dealing with specifically mission concerns—a 300 or 400 percent increase (though still less than four or five percent of the entire program).

At the same chapel, Mottesi announced his intent to invite Ralph Winter to give a seven-minute plenary address on the Spanish Global Prayer Digest inaugurated at COMIBAM. Winter later declined the invitation, preferring to have Luis Bush, outgoing president of COMIBAM and current internationaldirector of Partners International, do the honors.

“The Spanish Global Prayer Digest is a tremendous instrument to focus daily prayer on the unreached peoples,” said Smith. He looks upon it as useful not only for prayer, but also as a means for funding Hispanic missionary outreach to unreached peoples.

Even in a meeting only indirectly related to evangelism and world missions—at the Greater Los Angeles Sunday School (GLASS) Convention—where he was speaking to Sunday school teachers, Mottesi mentioned the missionary call. “We are called to cross cultural barriers even though we feel poor,” he said. He mentioned examples held up at COMIBAM—of Argentinians and Brazilians working among Muslims. “Hispanics in the U.S. must work among Hispanics here in the U.S.,” he said, ”but we must also send people to other countries to work among other peoples.”

Evidence for the Imminent Demise of “El Complejo de Langosta
Smith views Mottesi’s apparent “conversion” to a more mission-oriented mind-set as another solid piece of evidence for the imminent demise of what Federico Bertuzzi, an Argentine pastor, calls “El Complejo de Langosta” (“The Grasshopper Complex”—see Numbers 13:33)—a sense of inferiority and impotence.

Bertuzzi, director of Misiones Mundiale, a mission to Muslims, wrote in 1985, “We have the mentality of being a small people with scarce resources: . . . there is so much to be done in our own country, that we see no way to make an impact on world evangelization among hidden peoples.”

“So often we hear Christians lament, ‘But we don’t have the resources they (other Christians) have!’” said Smith. “And, like the slave who had ‘only one’ talent, rather than investing what they have, these Christians hide their talents”—to their own judgment.

“When we stand before the Lord, we’re going to have to respond not to the question of how many talents we had, but what we did with them. God has made us to be fruitful with what He has given us—whether that’s ten talents, five talents, or ‘only one.’”

Smith said that the ‘poor me’ Grasshopper Complex is pandemic throughout the unreached world. It arises from a deficient understanding of man as created in God’s image.

“If we understand the meaning of the cultural mandate in Genesis 1 and 2 to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” we understand not only why God created us, but why He redeemed us.

“Our purpose is not simply to procreate, but to multiply all the blessings He has placed in our hands.”

If we come to appreciate the inheritance that is ours in Christ, Smith said, then we will move out in blessing to the nations.

“As long as we see ourselves as grasshoppers, we will keep complaining that we are limited and unable to bless. But if we awake to a greater appreciation of the inheritance we have in Christ, if we take note of the resources God has placed in our hands, then we can bless even our oppressors. We can mark a path to freedom for the rest of the unreached world.”

Suddenly—and Alberto Mottesi and LA ’88 are only the latest pieces of evidence Smith has found to bolster this belief—it appears that the Grasshopper Complex is being done away with. And Smith rejoices.

In a recent letter to prospective LA ’88 attendees, Mottesi quoted a letter from a group of Bolivian students. “We are a group of Christian young people,” they wrote. “Convinced of the supreme calling to the ministry, we have decided to participate in Los Angeles ’88 for which we are sending in our respective registration fees. . . . Because we are young people, we do not have the necessary economic resources to cover the cost of air transportation, so we have decided to come overland, leaving from Bolivia on the 1st of June.”

Said Smith: “They’ll be traveling minstrel-style, preaching along the way, having street meetings in the park in order to pay their way. Can you imagine what faith that requires?

“The old generation with the Grasshopper Complex is giving way to this new generation that displays such initiative and creativity, a generation that is willing to risk even two months of income simply to follow where they believe God is leading.”

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