Introducing Frontier Ventures’ New General Director, Dr. Kevin Higgins
Editor’s Note: The first General Director of Frontier Ventures, formerly the U.S. Center for World Mission, was our founder, Dr. Ralph Winter. Winter appointed Dave Datema to be the new General Director shortly before Winter’s passing in 2009. The Office of General Director, with three co-leaders, was created in 2012. With the appointment of Dr. Kevin Higgins, Frontier Ventures returns to having just one General Director.
I have been a friend of Frontier Ventures, then US Center for World Mission, and WCIU since 1980 when the youth group I was leading helped send out mailings about what was happening here. When Susan and I went to Uganda in 1984 to work with Somalis our pre-field preparation was done at the Center and we stayed in Townsend Hall.
Over the years, as we worked in South Asia among Muslims, I visited Frontier Ventures from time to time, and by the late 90s was occasionally brought in to speak at morning meetings (two of the movements in South Asia were written up in the book Wind in the House of Islam by David Garrison). I have written for, and been blessed by, IJFM and also the various editions of the Perspectives Reader.
When WCIU began to develop an area of focus around translation, I was among those who helped give input and encouragement. I also recruited students; I received my PhD from Fuller in 2012 focusing on comparing the translation approaches of Christians and Muslims in Urdu. I have mentored several MA students as well.
While remaining engaged with the movements in South Asia, I also led another organization, Global Teams, over the past 18 years before coming here. But my connections to FV and WCIU have run long and deep.
Then, after several years of knowing a change was coming for us, we began the process that led to my move here physically in August 2017. At that time I took on the role of WCIU President and became a member of the “Office of the General Director” (OGD) for Frontier Ventures with Fran Patt and Chong Kim.”
In the past few months, the OGD and both boards discerned and then unanimously affirmed the Lord’s leading to ask me to serve as FV’s General Director (while remaining WCIU President).
There is no space here to go into all that I think our future holds. But, given the focus of this edition of Mission Frontiers, let me mention one.
There has been a recent sharpened focus within the broader Unreached Peoples effort. That sharper focus has been around Frontier People Groups (FPGs): those with less than .1% believers of any sort and no known movement.
Of the 31 largest (over 10 million people), 24 are in South Asia and 18 in India alone. Of those 24, just a cursory survey showed me that FV and WCIU members have organic relationships with the “field” in eight, including five in India.
So, announcing all of this within an edition of Mission Frontiers focused on India seems fitting.
I have encouraged us within FV and WCIU to believe God for movements to Jesus within four of the 31 largest FPGs as one of our primary objectives by July 2020.
How is that possible? The answer connects to another frequent theme within Mission Frontiers: movements.
In physical and/or cultural proximity to many of the largest FPGs there are already movements to Jesus which are mature and thriving. In several cases, there are already leaders from those movements who have begun to look at the FPGs around them and are praying and planning for ways to reach them.
Over the next months, FV and WCIU will combine to catalyze collaboration (especially collaboration with local, indigenous movement leaders) focused on innovation of new approaches, mobilization at a more local level and training as needed to see breakthroughs happen.
This is a wonderful example of how God uses FV: identifying and overcoming barriers so that we might see kingdom breakthroughs.
There are a lot of challenges ahead of us and a lot is changing in FV and WCIU, but I also see a new era of collaboration, innovation, mobilization and training ahead of us as well.