This Unusual Place
My anthropology professors in grad school in almost every class look potshots at missionaries, telling stories about their inability to understand die people (and implying that anthropologists could, of course). It seemed as though everywhere these men ever travelled investigating 'mankind' they had encountered missionaries. "dumb" missionaries.
I couldn't believe they were dumb. I grew up in a Christian family. I respected missionaries because my parents often invited them to our house. But, quite honestly, it would never have occurred to me that these nice, respectable people constituted any major force in real life, in history or in the world today! How could they? Meanwhile, it dawned on me that there were a whole lot more missionaries out there than I had ever supposed. I also realized that they stayed for years, while the anthropologists only made "field trips."
As a Field Missionary
In other words, when Roberta and I went out as missionaries, we imew we were part of a magnificent, worldwide team of wonderhit people. On arrival we were really quite impressed by the caliber and the unassuming dedication of the two dozen teammates who were ci, the field before we arrived. But we weren't really prepared for something else.
In all these years there was one thing we never did understand, namely, that a similar response to the gospel was going on all over the world. Thus, we had no way to know the 'overall score."
As a Missions Professor
That would come only because
something unusual happened. we were called to help out in a new school, the Fuller School of World Mission. There, as a professor for ten years, I had the absolutely delicious opportunity to hear from at least I, missionaries about what God was doing intheir arms softheworld, This is how, gradually, the truth of the overall picture came home.
Even this might not have happened had I not received a very unusual assignment Other men on the growing Fuller mission faculty focused on specific aspects of the mission field. My job was to try to sum up the whole. I was in back and to trace the development of the whole movement! (And the solid input from missionaries from all over the world made that possible.)
I came away from those years at the School of World Mission with a big picture including two indelible impressions.
The first: there is a colossal gap between what is really going on out there around the world and the inevitably limited picture of things seen at pew level back home.
The second: the job can be finished. This I gained from the input of a thousandmissionaries clued in by the incredible optimism which McGavran and Tippet constantly displayed.
Starting the U.S. Center
In some ways, I was the only one in that illustrious faculty, however, whose job it was to take note not only of what was yet to he done the "unfinished task." I am embarrassed now to look back and see how long it took me to recognize even the main outlines of the "Big Picture"!
Finally, I was to sense the scope of God's Big Movement. Many wonderful people still at Fuller, at World Vision, in SIM, WEC, AIM, YWAM, WEF, LCWE, etc., are being literally carried forward together, by the Spirit of God as we race for the year 2,000 to complete The Task.
Dear reader, are you part of this Movement? In one sense the tragedy is not a whole lot greater when people waste their lives on atrocious sins than it is when good people are paralyzed for the lack of vision
No Free Lunch!
Some people have misunderstood us when we have said that we will not need to raise operational funds once the campus is paid off.
This is not like having endowment to fall back on. It is not as though we can sit back and live off some mysterious income.
The fact is we will still be very dependent constantly on two kinds of outside help and good will: even now about $2 million per year comes into this campus from the outside as people give funds for the support of some 300 fulttime staff members. (If you calculate that missionary staff here may average about $7,000 per year, 300 x $7,000 makes $2 million.)
Secondly, the vast majority of our staff are here working under some other organization part of the amazing array of collaborating organizations (see page 14).
We are totally dependent, moment by moment, on the good will and the seasoned judgment of these organizations over which we have no control. If they felt this was not the place for their people to he at work, we would grind to a halt overnight.
Is a Small Campus Big Enough?
Some people have wondered about the size of our campus. We have about 35 acres, only half of which is in one piece. This is quite small compared to most Christian college campuses. Bethel College, Taylor University. Messiah College, not chosen for bigness, have from six to nine times as much land. Once entirely paid for we will still not have even one tenth the assets of Wbeaton College.
In a nutshell, the financial differences between how the usual Christian college survives and how we expect to be able to survive (once paid oft) is that while they must constantly ask for gifts to help them operate, running anywhere from $2 million to $10 million annually (this goes mainly to pay their faculty), our faculty/staff are paid for through gifts that come indirectly through the various agencies which assign them to work here. This means we will not have to raise funds in the name of the U.S. Center for World Mission for operations. Our faculty/staff are, as with all direct missionary support agencies, funded by indirect gifts coming through at least 4 dozen agencies (see page 14).