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
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 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
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.