Preaching, Passion and Mission Strategy Draw 10,000 to Amsterdam 2000
Amsterdam 2000 was called "the most internationally representative gathering, secular or religious, in human history." Over 10,000 evangelists from 209 countries gathered in Amsterdam from July 29 to August 9 to receive a generous dose of passion for the Gospel and strategy for the Great Commission.
Sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), Amsterdam 2000 combined elements of previous BGEA-sponsored conferences, including the 1983 and 1986 Conferences for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam and the 1974 World Congress on Evangelism in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was at Lausanne '74 that Ralph Winter first advocated that unreached peoples should be the highest priority for world evangelization.
Partnering to reach the remaining unreached peoples was the first priority for the 500 delegates of the Strategic Task Force sessions led by Paul Eshleman of the Jesus Film Project. Luis Bush called for "the whole Church to take the whole Gospel to the whole world by 2025."
The assembled strategists were further challenged by Bruce Wilkinson of Walk Thru the Bible Ministries to literally stand up and take responsibility for reaching each of the 253 untargeted peoples on the Joshua Project list. Dozens of delegates came forward, registering their commitment to reach specific peoples, covering 170 groups. The remaining untargeted peoples were picked up by the International Mission Board (Southern Baptists), Campus Crusade for Christ and YWAM.
Graham was initially scheduled to open Amsterdam 2000, but as the day approached doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota advised him not to attend. He had recently undergone successful surgery to relieve pressure from fluid on the brain. Graham's son Franklin said, "He is doing better physically than he has been in, maybe, many years."
Many have wondered who will succeed Billy Graham, 81. He has responded, "I am just one of many thousands who has been called to be an evangelist. I don't need a successor, only willing hands to accept the torch for a new generation." With 75 percent of the delegates coming from developing nations, the leaders of the next generation may well be from the emerging world.
Franklin delivered his father's opening message to the Amsterdam 2000 delegates: "In an age which is given over to cynicism, coldness and doubt, and in which the fire and warmth of God is conspicuous for its absence in the world, my heart cry is: Let the fire fall. Oh God, let the fire of your Holy Spirit fall on us."
Violence on Ambon Reaches Crisis Point
Ethnic and religious violence on the Indonesian island of Ambon in the Moluccas, on-going for the past year, has escalated in late July and early August. In a crisis that seems to have evaded international attention, The Islamic group Laskar Jihad has announced on loud speaker its intent to "exterminate" all Christians on Ambon. One private report states, "Our office and houses were bombed yesterday. The university was mortar- bombed. This was the last Christian area in Ambon. ... It is worse than Timor."
Indeed, the crisis in Ambon is just one of a number of hot spots in Indonesia where violence has erupted, testing the ability of the Indonesian government to hold the fragile archipelago nation together. So when Indonesian President Wahid handed over power to his vice president Sukarnoputri in early August, it seemed to confirm suspicions that he was unable to control the situationeven his own military personnel.
Ambon has been seen as the heart of Christianity in Indonesia. Many fear that if the militants succeed in "exterminating" Christians on Ambon, they will then argue that there is no place left for Christians in Indonesia any more. The lines of violence are ethnic as well as religious. Christians, too, have been violent. But one recent observer insists they "are only trying to defend and maintain." Jonathon Head, the BBC correspondent in Indonesia reports that, "Traveling anywhere on this bitterly divided island requires an armed escort. Outside the city it soon becomes clear this it is the Christian villages that have suffered most. Many have been completely wiped out."
Minneapolis Consultation Draws Hindu & Sikh Ministries
From August 3-5, 2000 the MacLaurin Institute's South Asia Initiative hosted 50-plus delegates representing more than 40 different denominations, ethnic ministries, mission agencies, student ministries, colleges and seminaries. A work that has long seemed a dream now appears to be crystallizing: A network of agencies and ministry leaders engaged in ministry to Hindus and Sikhs in North America is forming.
Resulting from the Consultation was a renewed commitment to work with North American churches to reach out and bless Hindus and Sikhs in North America.
Having gained valuable insight and assistance from the Coalition of Ministries to Muslims in America (COMMA), this network has developed four task force groups to address the following strategic priorities: Awareness Building and Education, Networking and Partnership, Resources and Research.
The Network of Ministries to Hindus and Sikhs in North America is welcoming others with a ministry among or on behalf of Hindus and Sikhs to join the task force groups.