The Editorial of Ralph D. Winter
Founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission
I can't quite visualize where you are sitting or standing as you read this. Or, whether you are in a rush, under pressure, dazed by the whirl of events, problems, etc.
But let me suggest that if there was ever a time to think clearly, to be absolutely, totally calm and quiet in heart, and to be open to understanding the reality of God's activity and timetable as it may actually be. ..this is it'
An example: Just before we went to press last time, holding in my hands that precious 32-page supplement you may or may not have taken time to peruse, I recall thinking to myself, "I wonder if I have ever held in my hands a document (outside of the Bible itself) that is more significant." I hope you don't miss that material. It will shortly be out in book form for about $7.95.
However, no use even talking about making a sprint to complete the mission task by the year 2000 if in actual fact the PRIMARY human means to that end is much maligned and misunderstood.
I speak of the little-understood, often-overlooked organization called the mission agency. There are so many fine agencies with vast experience, great capabilities, and superlative, godly leadership, that... Yet...
÷Some people hate to get any mail from a mission agency. They don't like to think that such organizations know of better ways for them to spend their money than the way they are day by day choosing to misuse it
÷Some people, deep down, are thankful that they have never given in to being anything so fanatic as a missionary÷and have to sleep with snakes and mosquitos all around.
÷Some people have been given to believe, perhaps by culture-bound theologians, that 1) a handful of people in Eugene, Oregon, for example, can sit down and organize a "church" legitimately capable of appointing elders, "ruling" over its members, baptizing, etc. But, 2) if several hundred dedicated believers form a mission agency, then they are doing something which lacks the authority of "the church," and each member must remain under the authority of some congregation thousands of miles away from their work.
÷Worse still, many unthinking souls today pass along the myth that we don't need mission agencies anymore and that we can buy more missions per buck by sending money to "nationals," who are essentially local evangelists at best or mere local pastors. Usually these are not really missionaries to new fields at all and have no future if their living is dependent on foreign funds.
÷Another plague to combat is the idea that "missionaries can't get into closed countries" while ordinary business people can get jobs there as "tent-makers," and thus escape the onus of being missionaries and reach more people, at no cost to donors.
Apparently anything that relieves the donor is good news. But there is more. I'll continue across the page. We salute Jack Frizen this time. For thirty years nothing of great significance to the completion of the Great Commission has escaped his notice on either the national or international level.
Cordially, in Christ,
Ralph D. Winter