This is an article from the January-February 1994 issue: Perspectives on the World Christian Movement

Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment

This "January-February" issue will be out in   time for the Student Mission Convention      held every three years at Urbana,IL. What a glorious thing to be in that stadium with 16,000 young people (mainly from the Intervarsity movement) seriously considering a mission career!

Our cover story on the Perspectives movement is linked to Urbana because it was born out of Urbana 1973, which recorded the largest and most sudden change of student mood in the second half of this century. Since 1973 over 20,000 Americans have taken the course designed for Urbana students who expressed interest in a mission career. (See story on page 12.)

But this month we focus in general on the problem of how people around the world can grow up into mission vision and leadership.
Those of you who hold this little bulletin in your hands are, first of all, part of a rapidly growing and changing global Christian movement (see pages 3 and 29). This movement provides the resources for the penetration of all of the remaining "nations" of the world, meaning Unreached Peoples. (See key definitions on page 10 and the centerfold on pages 27-30.) But before going further:

Here are some updates

Operation World. Yes, we ordered 100,000 copies of this book (see back cover). Yes, 70,000 were sold before shipment and went directly to the 300 plus churches, schools, mission agencies and individuals who ordered in advance. Yes, 30,000 came to us. Over 20,000 of those 30,000 have been re-shipped (at a slightly higher price). Thus, we are running out! See back cover for what's left.

Milestones. The pace is quickening. Key leaders recently gathered in Houston for four major conferences: the International Society for Frontier Missions (whose journal now has a brand new four-color format!), the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association, the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies and the Evangelical Missiological Society. Immediately afterward, I spoke in Orlando at the first North American Spanish Missions Congress, then the same day flew on to Colorado Springs for the Focus on the Family Dedication and was a guest one night at a reunion of the 25-year-Navigator staff members. A month later was the founding meeting of SERVE (Sending Experienced Retired Volunteers Everywhere), the Association of Presbyterian Mission Pastors, and finally the Presbyterian Cross-Cultural Mission Network.

Coming up in a few days. In December: the AD2000 gathering of denominational leaders in Colorado Springs; then Urbana. In mid-January: a "huddle" of scholars assisting in the development of our new post-Perspectives curriculum, and a gathering in El Paso for expanding Perspectives into Mexico. In February: the annual meeting of the Association of Christian Continuing Education Schools and Seminaries; the International Missionary Training Fellowship (on our campus); the meeting of the U.S. Lausanne Committee-which has now shouldered the AD2000 coordination in the U.S. And on and on! These are just a few events in God's redemptive scheme-those in which I happen to be involved.

New phone system. The Focus on the Family headquarters is a huge operation with a daily expense budget of $360,000! They have a new phone system and have given us their old one. Jim Dobson told me, "We have a stake in what you are doing!" Even without this gift he had already done great favors for us.

If you have ever seen a fire like this you will never forget it.
On the 27th of October a change of wind could have consumed our campus and our 83 homes within an hour. The fire was raging just seven blocks away.

Computers and key files were loaded into staff automobiles. By midnight we were phoning "24 hour" vehicle rental companies so that we could move additional things away in trucks. But all we got were answering machines.

Hour by hour we knew that if the terrible winds gusted up again, not only our campus but quite possibly all of Pasadena would go up in flames.

Once you see these enormous ten- story-high flames at close range, you will never assume that any combination of man-made efforts whatsoever could stop such a fire, once it begins to burn into a built-up city-unless the winds stop. "Who is this Man that the winds and the waves obey His voice?"

However, totally contrary to TV weather predictions (and as we were earnestly praying), the dooming winds did stop. They went abruptly silent for 24 hours-sort of like the winds that swept back the waters of the Red Sea. We still have not quite internalized this event.

That same morning, one of our families a half-mile down the canyon from the flames, were very early up on the roof watering down their newly purchased home. All of their possessions were still in boxes on the floor, with no way to tell what was where. A fast flying ember ignited brush at the base of the cliff, and the flames swept up from out of sight, pouncing over the edge, setting fire to the wooden ladder! Four staff members were furiously clearing away brush on the other side of the house. One caught Herb Purnell as he jumped off the roof, leaving the ladder in flames. Within minutes the house was ashes. "Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." (See page 11 for the rest of this story.)

Let me go out on a limb about Billy Graham
I really think that what has been closest to the heart of Billy Graham in the last few years is to see thousands of local "itinerant evangelists" share his burden for preaching the simple gospel of Christ.

Because he is interested in the vitality and cutting edge of the local leaders in the Christian movement, twice-at Amsterdam in 1983 and 1986-he gathered thousands from all over the world, giving them all of the marvelous encouragement of major congresses like these.

I guess that is why he has been glad to see our 150-hour Perspectives course expand to 20,000 people in this country and to another very large number in other lands and in other languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and soon Korean). (See his quotation on the cover.)

However, the plot thickens: there are about 2,000,000 pastor-evangelists in Africa, Asia and Latin America! The average church movement on the mission field may consist of 100 congregations and only five or six formally trained pastors. I have talked recently to global experts like Bill Taylor (who edits the bulletin we have reprinted on pages 45-50), and we feel it is not an exaggeration to say that 95 percent of 2 million faithful, spirit-empowered local leaders have never had any formal theological training- and never will under the present circumstances. Yet the future of the Christian movement is largely in their hands. The future of the magnificent "Two-Thirds World" mission movement is in their hands. WE MUST THINK ABOUT THIS PROBLEM.

How big is the problem?
To get an idea of how big this "problem" really is, let's just suppose some huge American foundation decided it would train all of these 2 million pastor/ evangelists and do it "properly." This problem is discussed in more detail on page 51, and is related to the amazing chart on pages 48-49, again, part of the latest issue of the IMTF Bulletin which we reprint here (pp. 45-50).

The people who produced this chart are coming to our campus in February as part of an "International Consultation of (missionary) trainers." (The final line on page 45 and the following ones on page 46 describe this gathering.)

To reach out to 2 million local leaders in many languages, giving them a full college and seminary education, would not only be totally unthinkable, it would require us to transplant all U.S. seminaries overseas and multiply them 100 times to enroll this number of people. Even so, it would be counterproductive since it would UNfit 80 percent of these men for the task they are needed to perform, jerking them out of their local culture and leadership role.

It is necessary, however, to take them all something-something vital, basic, Biblical and comprehensive lest the entire global Christian family slide into heresy, or worse, into virulent cultic movements.

But all this means you need to read and digest page 51!

A new-fangled scheme, that's all!
"Are you out of your mind?" people ask when we tell them our idea of how to pay for the mailing of Mission Frontiers. It's not the first time people have been puzzled by our ideas. Why do we always seem to come up with strange and unconventional ways of doing things?

[As a bunch of former missionaries if we have had to sprain our brains to understand foreign customs, why not stretch our imaginations in the U.S.?]

If it is terribly inefficient for all of the people on our mailing list to cover their own family's cost, and mail that in separately, then there must be a way in which the subscriptions can be covered with less of a drain on the Lord's money.

It boils down very simply to this: whenever you write a check to subscribe to a magazine, at least $2.50 of your payment is what it takes for the publishers to solicit, remind, collect, and deposit the check you send in. OK, if the 93,000 people who get Mission Frontiers were to be put on a "subscriber" basis it would cost 93,000 times $2.50 of the Lord's money to do that. That's almost a quarter of a million dollars compared to only $2,500 to process 1,000 checks for $136.50 once a year. In fact 29¢ postage on 93,000 letters amounts to another $27,000. And, we are so grateful that 40 alert people have already sent in $136.50. One sent in $500. Two of the forty are missionaries!

[So they don't get lost, $136.50 checks should be sent to "Companies of Seventy," Mission Frontiers, 1605 Elizabeth ST, Pasadena, CA 91104.]

We want further to encourage those in each group of 70-each "Company of Seventy"-on our mailing list to get their heads and hearts together and see how best to cover the cost of Mission Frontiers for those seventy for the six issues of a year.

We believe that the 70 others in your area who get Mission Frontiers are people you really would be delighted to know. AND, if even a cluster of, say, 12 or so within the 70 were to share ideas about how they are mobilizing their churches in frontier mission vision, that would accelerate the movement more than anything else we can think of.

Frankly, we want to go beyond just publishing an upbeat frontier mission bulletin. We need your help to stir up the grass roots of America to double and triple the current focus on the ends of the earth.

Nothing we do in Pasadena can substitute for your local effort. That is where things must happen if we are going to reach every group by the year 2000.

You, dear reader, can do a whole lot of things where you are that we can never ever do from Pasadena.
Publishing Mission Frontiers is something like building a nationwide "congregation." Someone may say, "You've told us that each copy, delivered, costs (minus your staff labors) 32.5¢ or $1.95 per year. Why not charge everyone the extra $2.50 and be done with the problem?

Is there a door charge to get into your church?

We feel Mission Frontiers is a ministry in much the same way that church services are a ministry. If you start charging people at the door to get into church, it might be "logical." But churches don't do this because they hope that by making it "free" to go to church there will be a growing edge of people who will be exposed who would not otherwise be caught up in faith. Some of these individuals will eventually decide to become part of the 20 percent of the members who pay 90 percent of the cost of "church services."

It is the same with Mission Frontiers. Vision-for-the-frontier-peoples-of-the- world-as-the-highest-mission-priority is not a passion that grows instantly. Some read Mission Frontiers for several years before really getting caught up in a new, bold vision for their time, their prayers, and their giving.

Jim Dobson told me, "We have a stake in what you are doing!" Even without this gift he had already done great favors for us.


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