This is an article from the November-December 1992 issue: Building the Mission Bridge

Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment

Note to reader: Due to the unexpectedly long period between the last issue of Mission Frontiers and this one (four months), AND, due to the incredible events during this period, we have had to lengthen this issue to the maximum and at the same time continue the editorial on from this page to page 53. Even so we are leaving many things out. If we had more than one full-time person to work on this magazine (Rick Wood is "it," we could put it out more often. Do you know someone who could help? Please pray for workers to join us. At no time in our history have we had more opportunities surrounding us and we are stretched to the limit!-- RDW

Somalia or India?

Typical: our news media gave huge coverage to a handful of our Marines who are going on a peace-keeping mission to Somalia where 10 thousand people have died. Meanwhile, Hindu/Muslim conflicts in India involving millions of people are almost out of sight. Recall: 10 million people died as a result of the Hindu/Muslim conflict when Britain withdrew?

Columbus or Carey?

In this issue we are commemorating the 500-year-ago "Columbus Event" with Rick Wood's superb, balanced article on page 12.

We are commemorating the 200-years-ago "Carey Event" with the impressive article by Paul Beals, president of the Evangelical Missiological Society. During this past year of commemoration of William Carey this is the only article I have seen which specifically draws out of Carey's experiences the key mission lessons.

Did Columbus have more influence than Carey? It is highly doubtful, although God made use of the work of both. At the end of 1992, looking back on all the articles about Columbus it would appear difficult for secular people today to accept the fact that so major an event was spearheaded by a man driven by religious convictions. Modern Americans seem equally eager to blame Columbus for all of the evils inflicted by less religious Europeans.

1,000 other "Columbuses"

In the last 500 years a 1,000 "Columbuses" have earnestly and lovingly sought to minister to strange groups only to see their work undone by other Europeans heedless of God's love for all peoples.

This was true for John Eliot in Massachusetts, whose Christian Indians fought side by side with the colonists against King Philip and thus enabled the survival of the colony--only to have their own villages burned down in angry racist reprisal against all Indians, Christian or not.

The same thing happened to the Christian Cherokee after missionary pleas all the way to the Supreme Court were upheld but a callous President deliberately scorned the court in an illegal action sending army troops out to dispossess the civilized and educated Cherokee in one of the saddest death marches in the history of man.

The same thing happened to the civilized Indians in the "Reductions" in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil when political power moved from the more sensitive Spanish to the Portuguese.

Due to the news spotlight on Somalia, we will soon see how much benevolent missionary work has been damaged as local warlords undo the good work of truly humanitarian efforts.

The Case of the Missing Bridge

Our cover story, however, speaks of a positive effort to meet the need of key Christian leaders all over the world. The story on pages 6 and 7, as well as the further explanations of pages 8 and 9, will fill you in on this new, major project at the U.S. Center for World Mission.

To show how serious the phenomenon of "the missing bridge" really is, note that the Assemblies of God has moved from 250 "Night Bible Schools" ten years ago to over 600 today. They are reaching the keenest of their members to bring them into ministry. Other groups are building more seminaries which often do not consider seriously those many leaders who cannot come physically and sit down for daytime classes--and thus almost completely fail their intended purpose. But not even 600 night programs is enough for the global, growing church. There has got to be a way to reach out to keen individuals with something very solid. This is the way forward which we are attempting to pioneer for the benefit of any school of ministry anywhere which would like to fulfill its basic purpose.

The Two "First-Evers"

In our last issue (which carried our 48-page annual catalog, I promised I would tell you more about two "first -ever in history" conferences (see the outquote in the middle column here about the Korean and Nigerian meetings).

Another "first-ever" has occurred since then but before going on to that let's look at these two.

The "First-Evers" in Korea and Nigeria

The Korean student conference could not afford a larger indoor auditorium than one holding 4,000 and so they had to turn down 6,000 of the 10,000 applications they received.

Even more important, this student conference was jointly sponsored by student groups which have little contact with each other in this country--InterVarsity, Campus Crusade, Navigators, Youth With a Mission, etc.

The Nigerian meeting has been described graphically for us in some detail by Fuller Professor C. Peter Wagner, one of the very few Westerners present at this incredible conference. See pages 10 and 11.

The "First Ever" in Continental Planning

Neither Asia nor Africa (nor Europe nor America) has as keen a group of mission leaders cooperating on a continental level as the COMIBAM movement in Latin America. Their conference of a little less than 100 brought an exceedingly rare group of top church and mission leaders together to spell out the "countdown" to the year 2000 for Latin America. No mission planning of this quality and significance has ever occurred on a continental basis. It is time we North Americans tried to catch up with the COMIBAM leadership! Well, they are invading our turf! A few days ago here in Pasadena they had a large Spanish meeting, and a country-wide Spanish meeting is planned for Orlando, Florida next fall.

Arresting New (and old) IFMA plans

Talk about strategic mission planning, ten years ago the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association (over 100 mission agencies are members) focused on Unreached Peoples for their annual Executives Retreat, held at Keswick, New Jersey in 1982. At that conference a very significant planning document was hammered out (see the text on page 33). At the same conference I was asked to give a major paper on the whole question of the Unreached Peoples. My presentation, verbatim, begins on page 34.

But, now at the 1992 IFMA Retreat Dr. Pat Cate of International Mission offered the motion that the IFMA member missions would each be requested to send in a report of the number of truly Unreached Peoples with which they are working, how many more groups they expect to begin work with in the near future, etc. The motion passed! For this prestigious association to take a step like that puts the entire unfinished task into new focus.

Not only that. At a meeting (at the same hotel) immediately following, Dr. Jack Frizen, former Executive Director of the IFMA for 28 years--author of the superb history of the IFMA, 75 Years of IFMA, 1917-1992, The Non-denominational Missions Movement, brought out the 1982 Declaration already mentioned (see text on page 33). Dr. Frizen's book is a 498 page treasure trove of significant information about the prime mover of missions in America--the interdenominational societies. Almost always the denominational societies have been limited by the democratic processes of the non-mission-minded majority of their members and have been attracted (dragged?) into mission work by the pace-setting example of the minority-based interdenominational societies. Do get this book, a strategic, historical handbook of the American mission movement from 1607 forward. Just send $15 to the Mission Frontiers editor to order it.

And, as the highlight of the evening meeting of this follow-through conference (The International Society for Frontier Missiology), which annually is open to the public, a large group from all over Kansas City gathered to hear Luis Bush (of the AD2000 Movement) give his answer to the question, "Can we finish the task by the year 2000"? His presentation is found on pages 54-61. Here is the closest thing to a definitive analysis of this momentous question. It is the AD2000 movement which was connected to the Nigeria miracle-meeting. The founder of the AD2000 Movement, Dr. Thomas Wang, was the main speaker at the Korea meeting in the same week. It is the AD2000 Movement which catalyzed a now-$24 million "Alliance" planting churches in every part of the former Soviet Union. Keep your eyes on this movement. Pray that their efforts to bring about cooperation--which are spectacular--will continue to leap and abound all over the world.

Garbled #1

However, we ARE happy to report that the National and International Religion Report (NIRR--a newsletter every congregation ought to get, as well as every really serious Christian) carried a story reprinting some of our optimistic figures about the faster growth rate of the huge, global evangelical movement, greater than any other major movement. They garbled it just slightly (probably our fault) to say things we would not want to be quoted as saying.

Garbled #2

Christianity Today (another magazine every serious Christian ought to get) carried an even longer article, even re-drawing one of our graphs. Again, what we had published may not have been clear. They interpreted "one to 6.8" to mean "one out of 6.8" when it really means "one out of 7.8." Worse still, they left the reader with the impression that this phrase referred to one Bible-believing Christian for every 6.8 other people in the world's population, when it is specifically the ratio of Bible- believing Christians to people who do not regard themselves as Christians (leaving to one side over a billion purely nominal Christians). Thus what we show as 10% in the table on page four, they show as 14.7% (eg. 1 out of 6.8) which is not correct. If that is what you want to talk about then (as is commonly known) all Christians constitute one out of three of world population.

But don't blame CT-- many others have missed our point, and that is why we have produced the new table on page 4 which is intended to be clearer. Remember: "one out of 10" is the same as a ratio of 1 to 9 to others. In our long-used diagram of little men carrying a burden the burden the Bible believing Christian is carrying (in our diagram) is that of all who do not claim to be Christians, leaving the care and renewal of Christians to forces other than missionary forces. It would have been equally meaningful, perhaps even more pertinent, had we made the "burden" ( the little circles carried overhead) just those people in the world who live within Unreached People groups. That kind of burden is the specific burden we feel God has laid on our shoulders here at the USCWM. In that case we would end up with a final number of only 1 to 4 because in the world today for every Evangelical believer there are only four people who live locked away in Unreached People groups!

Mission Executives!

Don't miss our Mission Executives Section this time. It is solid packed with key papers on the most urgent issue in missions today-- what can be done by the year 2000?


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