Passing the Baton
With remarkable accomplishments to its credit, the AD2000 and Beyond Movement closes its doors. But its impact lives on.
For all of the AD2000 Movement’s short 12-year history, Mission Frontiers has been a partner with this movement in its efforts to mobilize the church to reach every unreached people group. As we say goodbye, it is with the hope that God will bring to completion that which He has begun through them. We present here an overview of its history and accomplishments. May we learn the lessons from their success so we may complete the vision of a church for every people that was at the heart of this movement.
It started out as a simple question in the heart of Dr. Thomas Wang, “Is God trying to tell us something?” Dr. Wang, then International Director of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, posed this question in the May 1987 issue of Mission Frontiers. He presented the fact that there were hundreds of separate global plans being created and pursued to reach the world by the year 2000, asking; “What is He trying to say to you and me through these happenings around us today.” This question became a burden for an answer in Dr. Wang’s heart.
Less than two years later in January 1989, Dr. Wang convened the first Global Consultation on World Evangelization (GCOWE), bringing 314 mission leaders from 50 countries to Singapore to help answer this question. The result was the birth of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement with a commitment to establishing a church-planting movement within every unreached people group.
The AD2000 Movement started out as a small office to disseminate information. Although there was never more than 15 staff working from the home office, under the leadership of Luis Bush, the new international director, the catalytic impact of this movement grew far out of proportion to its size. The central purpose of the AD2000 Movement was to mobilize the Body of Christ worldwide into active outreach to every people and every person. This mobilization effort expressed itself in four major initiatives: networking/ partnership, national initiatives, information gathering and dissemination and global conferences.
The AD2000 leadership and staff saw their role as a catalyst to bring the mission community together to cooperate and coordinate toward a common goal and thereby boost the effectiveness of the overall mission force. Building networks and partnerships to accomplish this were an essential part of the process.
Hundreds of mission organizations and ministries were brought together to form specific “Tracks,” “Task Forces” and “Resource Networks.” Those ministries with similar areas of outreach came together to network, cooperate and coordinate their efforts. Tracks were formed for those involved with prayer, translation, Gospel recordings, mobilization, unreached peoples, saturation church planting, women and more.
Those organizations that could benefit a wide range of ministries and tracks formed the resource networks or task forces. For example, Phill Butler’s ministry, Interdev, formed the Partnership Development Task Force to help a wide variety of ministries work together to reach specific peoples. Likewise, Pete Holzmann headed up the Interactive Task Force to help all AD2000 participants use technology to foster better communication within and between the various networks and tracks.
Most, if not all, of the networks and task forces will continue their cooperative efforts even though the movement that brought them into being has closed its doors.
From the beginning, the AD2000 Movement was led by people who had grown up outside of North America. As a result, a major emphasis of its efforts was on mobilizing indigenous mission and church structures to find and reach every unreached people group within their own countries. Over 100 countries have started national initiatives as a result of the AD2000 Movement’s efforts. The U.S. was slow to start, but its national initiative is now moving forward as Mission America.
Information Gathering and Distribution
From its inception, the AD2000 Movement set out to collect the best information available on who the unreached peoples are and what God was doing to reach them. They used this information to mobilize both churches and mission agencies to focus their efforts on reaching these unreached peoples. The results have been spectacular.
At GCOWE ’95 in Seoul, Korea, the AD2000 Movement released, in cooperation with the Peoples Information Network, a list of unreached peoples under the title, The Least-Evangelized Peoples of the World.
Following GCOWE ’95, the AD2000 Movement launched Joshua Project 2000 with a focus on reaching the unreached peoples with a population of 10,000 or more. Shortly after the launch of Joshua Project 2000 in November 1995, the first Joshua Project list of 1,739 unreached peoples was released in the May ’96 issue of Mission Frontiers. This list was continually refined as new data became available.
The information gathering continued as the AD2000 office launched a global survey of mission agencies and their activities among the Joshua Project peoples of the world. This survey of over 450 mission organizations and 350 other organizations and individuals gathered 22,000 pieces of information. This survey was published and released at GCOWE ’97 in South Africa as The Global Guide to Unreached Peoples. It not only included information on the unreached peoples but also the very important “work among” data which documented where agencies were working with each of the Joshua Project peoples.
Out of this survey came the list of the 579 “Untargeted Peoples.” These are peoples with a population over 10,000 with which no agency was working or had plans to work. The hundreds of mission agency leaders at GCOWE ’97 were challenged to commit their organizations to reach out to these untargeted peoples. As a result, 390 of these untargeted peoples were selected by agency leaders for outreach.
Over the next three years the number of untargeted peoples went up and down as agencies targeted various peoples and new information became available. At Billy Graham’s Amsterdam 2000 meeting in August 2000, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson of Walk Through the Bible challenged the 500 delegates of the Strategic Task Force on Evangelism to take responsibility for reaching the remaining 253 untargeted peoples with a population over 10,000. By the end of the conference all 253 peoples had been selected by a mission agency for outreach. This was a specific example of how good information empowered the coordination and cooperation that is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of unreached peoples.
Throughout its short history the AD2000 Movement was propelled forward by major global conferences of historic proportions that helped to focus the efforts of the overall movement.
In May of 1995, GCOWE ’95 brought together over 4,000 delegates from 186 countries to Seoul, Korea, making this the largest and most widely represented international Christian gathering in history at that time. What is even more remarkable is that the focus was on reaching every unreached people by the year 2000.
As the national initiatives developed around the world, so did the desire to host and sponsor both regional and global events. The Koreans sponsored GCOWE ’95 and the South Africans hosted and sponsored GCOWE ’97 in Pretoria. While GCOWE ’95 emphasized mobilization through vision sharing, GCOWE ’97 had a more practical side focusing on specific steps to take in reaching unreached peoples.
The crowning jewel of this series of global conferences was to have been Celebrate Messiah 2000. It was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem in December 2000, but a strike by Israeli immigration workers forced its cancelation. A manifesto of this meeting was published and is available on the Mission Frontiers website.1
The AD2000 Movement succeeded in mobilizing a significant portion of the global evangelical church and missions community with a vision to reach the unreached peoples—and thereby provide access to the Gospel to every person. The concept of the “10/40 Window” was a huge marketing success with as many as 40 million believers praying for this part of the world and millions more at least familiar with the term.
AD2000 not only mobilized people with vision, but it also brought people together to solve problems, bringing a level of coordination and cooperation that was previously unknown.
A Lasting Legacy
The networks, partnerships and national initiatives that AD2000 fostered will not soon be forgotten and will continue to bear fruit in the future. The multitude of ministries involved with AD2000 have seen the power of partnership and will not want to see these networks end.
The AD2000 Movement brought together many of the best researchers on unreached peoples to form a cooperative network to produce lists of unreached peoples with common coding that all could endorse and use. This was a monumental achievement in cooperation and made the first Joshua Project list of unreached peoples possible. This network of researchers has developed into the Harvest Information System (HIS) database currently being developed by a new organization called Joshua Project II consisting of a number of staff who once served in the AD2000 office. Much of the data gathered under AD2000 is now part of the new HIS database. This new data collection effort by Joshua Project II will focus on all the peoples on earth regardless of size or evangelization status. It holds great promise to provide agencies with the most up-todate “real time” information available.
Like the spark that ignites an enormous explosion of energy, the AD2000 office has closed, but the flames of vision and cooperation it has birthed lives on in Joshua Project II and the hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals that made up this amazing movement. It is now up to all of us to work together to finish the task.