Monday, July 3, 1995
It is not remotely possible to convey to our readers in a few pages just what happened in the most important global meeting in history-- GCOWE '95, with 4,000 key leaders in Korea May 17-25.
Beyond the New Testament no face-to-face meeting in human history has been more significant.
- Yes, earlier meetings, like stepping stones, have enabled this meeting to do what it did.
- Yes, there have been many crucial, cliff-hanging events earlier in Christian history, etc.
HOWEVER: I would argue with anyone that nothing this significant has ever happened beyond the pages of the Bible. Why? Read on… We need not argue. We need to act!
This cluster of astounding events was on the front page of the National and International Religion Report June 12. That report quoted Dr. Robert Coleman of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School: "This is the time for which we were born." It quoted Director Luis Bush saying, "As he read the declaration, Coleman began to tremble with emotion, and the entire gathering 'went wild' in a spontaneous response."It quotes a denominational leader saying that there was so much networking between leaders "it made the stock market look tame." Before this event took place I said this would be the most important meeting in human history. The event itself, however, exceeded every hope and aspiration that I ever had for it.
Never in my lifetime have I had the privilege of commenting on as significant an event.
Actually, most of my lifelong interests were dealt with seriously. There is no meeting I would have been more eager to attend. Alas, certain promises kept me home. First, some of the highlights.
In a way, the most momentous event of the conference was not even planned: the pervasive, unexpected, profound mood of confession and repentance between different national groups, bridging centuries of isolation and hatred--Arab and Jewish, Turkish and Armenian, Japanese and Korean. Some of the physical accommodations were so distant that confession and repentance arose when it became clear how hard the Korean hosts had tried to make everything just right.
Speaking of Korean hosts, their energies were everywhere. What they gave in cash alone would have been equal to $25 million for a country the size of the USA.
The final Korean youth meeting brought out 75,000 young people (in the rain) to a meeting that would have been the equivalent of 350,000 in the USA . And this was a student mission meeting! Has there ever been a more fervent, praying crowd of young people that large in any one place in human history?
This is the only large global Christian mission conference that has ever had more than half of its participants from the former mission fields of the world.
This was probably the most widely represented conference of its size ever held, Christian or non-Christian, with people from 186 countries.
When delegates left they were handed a professionally-edited video tape of the conference! (This was mainly the effort of our USCWM staff--23 of our people went to help, working behind the scenes.) To order this video for $6.50 postage paid see page 47 for more details. But what now?
The real meaning of this conferences is what is going to happen next-- differently! That meeting was merely the kickoff of a dazzling countdown that will fill the next five years.
If that tiny, overworked AD 2000 office in Colorado Springs had more than it could handle before the conference, think of what it must shoulder now that this whole global movement has exploded. But read
on… Is this crazy stuff?
Is all this realistic? Do sober people talk like this?
One detractor of the frontier mission movement made the following statement--carelessly, no doubt (it was an unguarded comment in an Email exchange):
"It's time for frontier missions to grow up about the year 2000. The year 2000 will be just another year. Come the bimillennium, the world will probably still look like hell, showing every one of its long 2,000 years. Poverty, hatred, disease and war will still be with us, and the Great Commission will still be unfulfilled."
Wait just a minute!
- First of all, this careless remark talks as if human misery and violence has been a burden in this world for only 2,000 long years. Far more than 2000 years ago, even the most ancient evidences of human remains reveal gruesome homicidal violence and hatred.
- The AD2000 Movement has never talked in terms of "fulfilling the Great Commission" by the year 2000. Its goal is "A Church for Every People…"
- The Bible never links the elimination of "poverty, hatred, disease, and war" with the Great Commission OR with the Return of Christ. Indeed, after the end of time God will "wipe away every tear" (Rev 21:4).
I personally think that one main reason Christ will return (Remember? "As in the days of Noah" when the majority are scoffing or looking the other way) is precisely because of human inability to erase poverty, hatred, disease, and war. More on this in the booklet mentioned in the center of this page.
What is planned now? Three major strategies are in motion right now:
1. Find out exactly what must be done. The goal is clear and measurable: "the establishment of a mission- oriented church planting movement within every people of the world…" (by the turn of the century).
Luis Bush is working toward a large workforce of younger people who will go out to the ends of the earth (easier to get to than ever in history) and "survey" the remaining task. Do we need 6,000 to do this? Well, 75,000 volunteered a year of service right there in that meeting--young people from only one country! How about one out of ten of them!
2. Line up the necessary energies. Leaders are now talking about a small meeting of mission organizations which actually have "troops" to put into the field-- that is, tried and true mission structures. Mission executives are in a different capacity than pastors or church leaders. It is like contrasting army, navy, air force leaders with mayors and state governors. The two have to work together, but don't confuse their capacities! Again, see the booklet mentioned in the center of this page. The work has to be parcelled out: "Your organization will do this, ours will do that, etc." Interdev in Seattle and the two major coalitions working in the former USSR, the CoMission and the Alliance, have proven that dozens of totally independent agencies can effectively work together.
3. In line with all this, Patrick Johnstone has already proposed that there be specific conferences focused on the major "affinity blocs" of peoples within which almost the entire remaining task lies--see his point #1 on page 12. What Could Go Wrong?
One excited pastor flew his family to a Muslim country and paraded down the street (the whole family) in long robes, carrying a big cross. They risked an angry mob, finally got safely in jail, and were sent home. Didn't they know that the last Christians coming at them with a cross were Crusaders who murdered Muslims by the thousands all over the Middle East for over a hundred years?
While the simple faith to hurl yourself out into the unknown is essential, simplistic faith that does not do its homework is dangerous. Amateurish mission is dangerous, plunging heedless mission is dangerous. As usual, there are more wrong ways than right ways. Most people underestimate the complexity of missions. They think that a warm heart is all that is necessary. They want God to take care of them when they do thoughtless things.
I would say that most of the enormous new interest in missions in this country today is flowing into amateurish mission is either useless or counterproductive. We have short termers rushing over for fun, doing lots of things which are not very helpful. They learn. That's good. But they do not serve effectively in many cases. Some of them do not even meet a missionary family. Not very many ever go back-- what they see and do is not all that effective or attractive. More than ever local churches are sending individual families to far off places to start churches like what they have in this country. Unless they find people who are Westernized already this rarely works out.
In a major step forward, Youth With A Mission, has established a new Frontier Mission division and they are now sending hundreds of people on a long term basis and are endeavoring to do some solid study of the task. This is something to which short terms can contribute little.
What we need is "sober exhuberance." Four out of five who wish to be missionaries must resign themselves to be mission mobilizers. That is the pattern of history.
The Key Issue is You Thousands of Americans like you can and must simply uproot themselves from what they are doing and join in with the essential mission mobilization, planning, and field efforts. This cannot be done without "Prayer with Feet."
Look, are you following the O. J. Simpson trial more closely than you are the five-year countdown to the year 2000? If so, it's partly because your TV is handier than this little bulletin. Why not reconsider your occupation. Are you mainly just staying alive, supporting yourself? Or is what you are doing the most significant thing you can do for the Kingdom during the remainder of your life? This movement needs help! Write to me. Send me your phone number. This is urgent!