MF Behind the Scenes
Can We Learn from Our Mistakes?
Our ultimate goal as the Body of Christ must be to make the Gospel indigenous to every people on earth. This is what we see in Revelation 5:9. Jesus is being worshiped in heaven because by His blood He purchased men for God from every tribe, tongue, people and nation.
To make the Gospel indigenous means to present it in a way that it is normal and natural to the people we are trying to reach, not foreign or strange. No person on earth should have to join another culture or speak another language in order to follow Christ. But this is exactly what Native Americans have been forced to do over the last 500 years.
The tragedy today is that most Native Americans do not see the Gospel as normal, natural or even good news. Rather, it is often seen as a foreign import, the "White Man's Religion," forced on them in order to conform them to the dominant outside culture, take their land and control them. It should be no surprise to us that so few have come to Christ.
The story of missionary efforts to the "First Nations Peoples," as some Native Americans now like to call themselves, is a stark illustration of how difficult and complicated it can be to make the Gospel indigenous to unreached peoples when working under inadequate missiology and social/political forces that continually undermine or destroy any progress.
Most mission efforts to Native Americans across the years did not lack love, sincerity, faithfulness, hard work and self-sacrifice. But, what they did lack was an adequate understanding of culture and its relationship to the Gospel. The missionaries could not imagine Native Americans following Christ within their own culture. Indeed, they could not conceive of any difference between the Gospel and their own culture. Some missionaries today still make this same mistake.
In this issue we present mission field concepts that some Native American mission leaders like Richard Twiss are using to make the Gospel indigenous to their own people in the hope of overcoming the centuries of abuse, neglect and bad missiology that have left their people hardened and calloused to the Gospel. See the section starting on page 8 with an interview with Twiss.
Whenever one attempts to cross cultural and linguistic barriers to make the Gospel indigenous to a people the same basic principles of missiology and contextualization apply regardless of the location. The major question for us is whether we have the courage to learn from our mistakes and apply mission field principles here close to home.
Amsterdam 2000Continued Global Progress in Reaching the Unreached Peoples
We have just returned from attending Billy Graham's Amsterdam 2000 meeting where 10,000 evangelists and church leaders from 209 countries gathered together to focus on completing world evangelization.
It was a wonderful opportunity for us to meet many of our faithful readers from around the world. We were genuinely encouraged and humbled to hear people from Africa, Asia and Latin America testify to how Mission Frontiers has blessed their ministries and given them new vision.
As part of Amsterdam 2000 over 500 church and mission leaders from around the world took part in the Strategic Task Force on Evangelism. The goal of this task group, led by Paul Eshlemen of the Jesus Film Project, was to develop partnerships and strategies to make the Gospel available to every people group and person. Some very significant results of this meeting include:
- Luis Bush, the international director for the AD2000 and Beyond Movement (which will be closing at the end of this year) gave a clarion call for the "whole Church to take the whole Gospel to the whole world by the year 2025." This call was contained in a paper presented to the delegates titled, "An Overview of the Unfinished Task." This paper is available on our website at www.missionfrontiers.org. This call was also presented by video to the entire assemblage of 10,000 delegates.
- Bruce Wilkinson of Walk Thru the Bible Ministries called the Strategic Task Force delegates to commit their ministries to reaching each of the 253 "Untargeted Peoples" on the Joshua Project list. These are peoples with no known agency focused on reaching them. Dozens of delegates came forward and claimed 170 of these peoples. The remaining peoples were picked up by three large organizations, International Mission Board (Southern Baptists), Campus Crusade for Christ and YWAM. This is a major step forward in giving all peoples access to the Gospel.
- A new fellowship of global strategists was established with a website to enable these strategists to share insights with each other on an ongoing basis.
- There was widespread agreement that working together closely in partnership is absolutely essential to reaching every people and every person. Dozens of new cooperative efforts were spawned at this meeting through delegate interaction. The work of Interdev-initiated Strategic Partnerships was also highlighted at the meeting for the remarkable results these partnerships have produced (see Mission Frontiers, Oct. 1999).
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