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July 1988


Editorial Comment

What Happened at LEADERSHIP 88?

You Will Have to See it to Believe it!

The Meeting of the Century is Announced

The Zwemer Institute. A Story Waiting to be Told.

Christians and the New World Order.

The Year 2000 and Bolivia's 65% Unreached

Retired? We've Got a Job for You!

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You will have to see it to believe it!

Dr. Lamin Sanneh’s astonishing views come to Americans as news too good to be believed. After all the years of guilt and self-doubt we have been feeding on (concerning our evil deeds in Africa and the Third World), it is close to incomprehensible that anyone—let alone an intellectual from the Third World itself—would stand up to say in unmistakable terms that the greatest blessing that ever came to Africa came in the form of human, faulty messengers with A Book in their hands.

But, wait, let us not suppose that our self doubts were entirely wrong. American commercial interests have squeezed the very life out of millions of our own people and also hapless foreign peoples wherever our predatory selfishness has led us. And our careless, calloused tourism—some of it blatantly sex-seeking and most of it insensitive, irrelevant, uncaring, and uncommitted—has hindered the witness of the Gospel immeasurably.

The amazing thing is that the bumbling missionaries in Sanneh’s sober analysis turn out to be the catalysts of extravagant power and blessing, far better than they themselves realize!

Who is this Dr. Lamin Sanneh anyway? Where did he get these ideas?

First of all, HE DID NOT GET HIS IDEAS FROM JUST SOMEWHERE. It seems obvious that he thought of them himself. I know of no one else from whom he could have borrowed such counter-traditional conclusions. He does not, unfortunately, yet represent “a school of thought.” His ideas are his own.

Having said that, however, there is no easy way to overlook or ignore this man’s credentials either in the scholarly dimension or in personal, home, or family integrity.

If Sanneh’s bombshell pulls out from under us any idea whatsoever that we can sit back and take it easy, let alone feverishly pursue our own security in an otherwise hopeless world, then we just may be prepared for the phenomenon of Portland.

The Western Baptist Seminary in Portland just a few weeks ago hosted (unawares?) a meeting the like of which has never quite occurred in history. It finally scaled the peak which other recent meetings have only been approaching.

What happened before?

—In a milestone in history, in 1980 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the largest-ever, world-level meeting of mission executives took place, as measured by three crucial criteria: 1) more mission agencies sent delegates, 2) more Third World mission agencies participated (57), 3) these Third World agencies represented a higher proportion (1/3) than ever before.

—For the first time in history, in 1986, in Pasadena, Calif.at the Asia Missions Association meeting, Third- World mission leaders took the initiative to meet on a global level to discuss subsequent global collaboration.

—But it was the Portland, May 9-13 gathering that actually became a follow-through meeting by committing itself to a global organizational structure to be called Third World Mission Advance.

Knowing many of those select few (35) who were invited to Portland, I have to say that the amazing thing is that not only did it represent all parts of the Third World (Africa, Latin America, and all the larger countries of Asia, etc.) but that the total absence of Westerners was not in the least any kind of slight or snub. There was really no need for any Westerners! The men who gathered there are the finest you could possibly get into one room. They don’t have a chip on their shoulders. They are not griping about international inequities. They are aware of them, but they don’t personalize these structural evils. They are too busy.

Busy doing what? All of them are up to their necks in sending missionaries to needy places—either as mission executives, or as heads of associations of mission agencies.

Take Ebenezer Sundaraj, for example. He heads up the India Missions Association, which, last I heard, had 23 member mission agencies. It is founding a training school for all India’s missionaries on the former site of the Yeotmal Seminary.

Or, take Panya Baba. He not only heads up the Evangelical Missionary Society of Nigeria (with something around 800 missionaries), he is also the president of a Nigerian association of mission agencies, and is working toward an all-Africa association of mission agencies.

Or take Petrus Octavianus. He not only heads up the Indonesia Missionary Society, but for many years he has been “ahead of his time” on the special wavelength where the world’s newer national churches send their own missionaries, thus joining the global countdown to completing world evangelization by the year 2000.

Three of the men who are on the Steering Committee of the AD 2000 Consultation (see page 5) come from this group. And, note, all of the five Program Committee people of AD 2000 are mission men!

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