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October 1988


Editorial Comment

Can Christ's Global Mission approach the kind of cooperation you see in a single team?

What is the Best Approach

Adoption/Partnership Makes a Difference

Who Says Agencies Don't Work Together?

Countdown 2000

Regional Centers to Get Boost at Interface Meeting

Scripture's Golden Thread

Fresh Winds Blowing

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Fresh Winds Blowing

by James H. Kraakevik

It was not always so. In Acts 2 we read that all the believers numbering about one hundred twenty were gathered together in one place. There suddenly came from heaven a rushing wind, filling the house where they met. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in other languages.

As the wind of the Spirit blew then, the promise of our Lord that His power would enable His followers to bear witness from Jerusalem outward began to be fulfilled. There follows a long list of nations represented at Pentecost where the Gospel shortly was carried. Their descendants are the modern nations of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Arabia, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Crete, Italy, and, of course, Israel. These countries are in the news almost every day. What happened between then and now?

Winds of the Past
Lawrence Keyes in his book, The Last Age of Missions, published in 1983, suggests four stages of missionary outreach. The first began during the apostolic age, when in addition to the results of Pentecost, Paul probably went as far as Spain, Peter to Rome, Thomas and Bartholomew, possibly to India; John and Timothy were at Ephesus, and Titus was at Crete. Thus the center of missionary outreach was at Jerusalem, at the confluence of three continents.

The second stage moved northwest to Europe where it remained for a thousand years. Missionary activity was carried out by the Celts, Waldenses, Franciscans, and Jesuits, and later through Spanish and Portuguese explorers. Finally, the modern missionary movement, begun by William Carey in 1792, led to the establishment of many European missionary societies.

In the third stage, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the center for world evangelization shifted to North America. Earlier, at the founding of the United States, John Eliot and Thomas Mayhew evangelized North American Indians and also translated the Bible. The story of evangelism in and from North America is told well through the exhibits of the Billy Graham Center Museum. By the beginning of the twentieth century, one third of the Protestant missionary force, and one half of its financial support, came from North America. In 1985 this amounted to 67,242 missionaries, serving under 764 agencies, supported with $1.3 billion.

The fourth stage of missionary advance recognizes that the center of world evangelization has shifted to the two-thirds world. By 1985, estimates numbered about 250,000,000 evangelical Christians in Europe and North America combined. China with its 1.1 billion may have 3 percent to 5 percent Christians. Korea is 25 percent Christian, and Indonesia, 17 percent.

Winds of the Present
The new wind of the Spirit blowing across the two-thirds world is stirring believers in the younger churches. Those countries receiving missionaries over the past 150 years are now becoming bases for sending missionaries. By 1980 there were nearly 400 active agencies, and over 13,000 missionaries from the two-thirds world, with an anticipated growth of more than 2000 each year. Missionary training centers are actively preparing capable and committed nationals for cross-cultural ministries from Korea, Singapore, Kenya, Nigeria, and Brazil, to mention but a few.

The first All-Asian Missionary Consultation was held in Seoul, Korea, in 1973. The fourth such conference was held in California in 1986. A significant consultation was held in 1980 in Edinburgh, Scotland, called a World Consultation on Frontier Missions, with a goal of a church for every people by the year 2000. The emphasis was on the unreached people groups, estimated at over 10,000 yet needing to hear the Gospel. In the past year, mission congresses have been held to mobilize Black Americans (Destiny '87, Atlanta), Latin Americans (COMIBAM '87, Sao Paulo, Brazil), Africans in North America (Initiative '88, Oak Park, IL), and Koreans (Korean World Mission '88, Wheaton) for cross-cultural missionary service. Another conference on Evangelizing Ibero-Americans, co-sponsored by the Billy Graham Association, was held for over 6000 in Los Angeles in July.

Winds of the Future
These are just glimpses of what the Spirit of God is doing in raising up a harvest force to complete the task of world evangelization in our generation. The Lord instructed us to pray for laborers and He is answering that prayer by raising up workers from around the world. The center of missionary outreach is no longer literally Jerusalem, nor the USA, but increasingly from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. It has been suggested that the major final frontier is back across Asia from the Pacific rim through the countries represented at Pentecost, which now are largely untouched by the Gospel, back to Jerusalem.

It is well known that a church without evangelistic and missionary outreach soon atrophies. Thus the theme for today, "From all nations, to all nations," helps to build the church worldwide. One international mission agency has 1350 missionaries from the two-thirds world. The Indonesians seek to plant 50,000 churches by the year 2000 through cooperation with Western agencies, using the slogan, "pay, pray, proclaim together" in partnership. Third-world missions are not without problems--- lessons are being learned regarding finances, cultural differences, church/mission relationships, and others.

There are some 230 active plans for world evangelization by A.D. 2000. The Lausanne Committee is seeking to bring coordination to these plans. The Billy Graham Center joins other agencies in discerning the fresh winds of God for the spiritual dynamic as we plan and work together to reach our world for Christ.

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