This is an article from the January-March 1985 issue: Student Missions Urbana ‘84

World Need, World Problems

Can Missions Make Any Difference?

World Need, World Problems


We may be tired of hearing about monumental world need, spiritual or physical. The summary here is a reassessment. In Part lit acknowledges and even expands our awareness of the scope of the need, but it shows a way forward. In Part It it suggests that the most strategic overall response Christ inns can make to world need is a string of nerve centers around the world, centers of a new kind, the one in this country being the new United States Center for World Mission. In every country these centers will have two functions:

  1. Mission field: They must be information centers concerning unreach ed people within the country where the center is located  so that foreign mission agencies and expatriate missionaries coming into the country can readily avail themselves of precise, reliable local guidance as to where the highest priority needs are. Thus they consider their own country a mission field.
  2. Mission base: They must be information centers managing at least the basic outlines of the mission needs in the rest of the world, so as to help people from their country become strategic missionaries to other parts of the world  they consider their own country a mission base.

The task of these centers will be to awaken interest in cross cultural mission, to stimulate and encourage support, and to do essential studies and strategic thinking about the unmet needs. In the case of the U.S. Center for World Mission, a vital accessory arm will be the activity of a special, internationally focused university, which has been founded as a sister corporation. This is described in Part III.

Part I. Scoreboard on the Impact of Missions to Date

A. Due primarily to outstanding and sacrificial mission efforts, the church in the "Third World" today is so vast that l,)O new churches open their doors for the first time each week. Congregations of believers (often large, but at least little) are to be found in almost every country of the world.

B. But lest we too soon rest back on these hard won achievements, we must reflect on the fact that the Great Commission is not talking about the Gospel going to every "country" of the world but to every "nation" (i.e., Greek: "ethoe", ethnic and cultural unit).

C. Thus, if we look again at precisely which specific ethnic and cultural units and social strata the Gospel has already effectively penetrated, we discover that the amazing and admittedly magnificent far flung fatally of Christian believers around the globe is to be found in cultural units that contain only 16 percent of the nonChristians of the world, and that this is where almost all the missionaries are too. Eighty¬four percent are "beyond".

D. This means that of the 2.8 billion non Christians of the world, 2.4 billion (84%) are beyond the normal evangelistic reach of any of the existing churches in the world today. Who are these 2.4 billion people? Seventy percent (2 billion) are either Chinese, Hindus, or Muslims. Some of them, like the Chinese behind the bamboo curtain, are temporarily inaccessible. But most of them, even the Muslims, are today more accessible than ever, even though neither presently deployed missionaries nor presently existing national churches are within normal evangelistic striking range. Example: Hindu background churches in Pakistan are not able to win Muslims into their churches as any major strategy.Ii. Nevertheless, the impact of present Christians on the overall life of the countries of the world is often all out of proportion to their number. All non Christians (even the 84% percent) live in countries where there are visible Christians, often high up in the government. The impact of Christianity is usually measured by its spiritual conquest of the hearts and lives of individuals, as we have shown above. But consider, for a moment, the immense impact of Christianity as a movement, as a faith, as an ethical system, as an attitude toward human problems  the equality of mankind, the treatment of children, the insure, the crippled, the hungry This impact is so vast (e.g., 85 percent of the schools in Africa were founded by Christians and are still, in the main, operated by Christians) that now in history it is the Christians of the world, and the people whom they have influenced, who hold the key to the solution to most of the toughest problems of the world.

F. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that Christian missions laid a magnificient foundation. They have won millions of people into the kingdom in virtually every land, and this worldwide Christian family now constitutes the very backbone of a new and transformed element in society which alone constitutes the only real hope of tackling the gravest problems which face mankind toward the end of this century.

Part II. The Decisive Role of the U.S. Center for World Mission

A. This Center now occupies parts of (and seeks to own outright) a twelve million dollar campus, including 83 off. campus houses. Sixteen participating organizations have already moved in.

B. The Center holds as its highest priority the founding, on its premises, of major research institutes that will focus attention upon the Chinese, the Hindus, the Muslims, and the tribal peoples in today s world, developing and sharing information with mission agencies that are in a position to reach such peoples for Christ. The Center will be unrelentingly preoccupied with those who are beyond the range of existing churches, specifically and especially the Hindus, the Muslims, and the Chinese, but in a general way all unreached peoples in the world, whether in the US. or elsewhere.

C. As a secondary priority, the Center will endeavor to attract and/or create centers which will represent the various evangelical traditions offering resources to the cause of missions at the present time. Two such centers are already on campus, one Episcopal, the other Presbyterian. Two more, Lutheran and Christian, are getting started. The evangelicals heading up these centers are intimately acquainted with these specific traditions and seek to expand the base of world mission involvement in these areas.

D. The Center thus expects to define more precisely the targets and at the same time to develop the necessary resources to reach those targets  through the two kinds of centers mentioned above  all the while working with the existing mission structures in every way possible and in general offering whatever help maybe needed in the cause of missions in the United States.

E. It is expected that it this Center succeeds, similar centers will no doubtspring into being in other countries (both Western and non Western) where substantial resources and interest in missions exist, and it will be part of the mission of the United States Center for World Mission to encourage such centers and to relate to them. All such centers will have the two way street mission base/mission field function by gathering information and offering guidance 1) to agencies of mission springing from within a given country. working in other countries, and 2) to agencies of mission from other countries, working in the given country. Hardly any nation exists that does not have a need for this very special type of Center which focuses exclusively upon people beyond the range of normal evangelism, even where general evangelism centers of many kinds already exist.

Part III. The Strategic Carrier Vehicle of a University Dedicated Specifically to World Need

A. A sister corporation to the U.S. Center for World Mission, headed up by the very same board of directors, is the newly incorporated William Carey International University. It will function as the educational arm of the USCWM, offering academic supervision leading to the Ph.D. degree. The relationship between the USCWM and the WC1U is similar to that between the Wycliffe Translators and the Summer institute of Linguistics.

B. The fundamental reason for any offerings on the undergraduate level at all is the fact that college graduates in general today are woefully unaware of the needs and unprepared to work crossculturally. By the time they have spent their time and money in traditional undergraduate schools, it is invert veniently late in their lives for the essential knowledge, insight, linguistic skills and cultural sensitivities to be developed. On the other hand, we do not feet it is necessary to provide an entire undergraduate currictilum. On this level we will be working cooperatively with existing schools.

C. Thus, for example, by this fall we expect to hold space for 2 college students to transfer to our campus for one semester only, getting unique international perspective and vision, and discovering the meaning and burden of the U.S. Center for World Mission before transferring back to their base school. This one semester will be very similar to the outstanding Summer Institute of International Studies program at Wheaten for the last three years, and at Colorado State University at Boulder as well, this summer.

D. But eventually we also expect longer term students who will be with us a year or more, long enough to fulfill the high goals of our institution in the area of bicultural awareness (cultural, linguistic, and religious) as well as other distinctives.B. Our graduate studies will be focused in the phrase "international Development", but will also build on the various fields represented by the major research centers  Chinese, Hindus, Muslims, tribal peoples, etc. The word development in this phrase relates profoundly to a great deal of the work missionaries traditionally do, but in tegrates many factors in a unified concept.

F. We expect to help overseas Americans of all types (but especially missionaries) to do all kinds of further study without coming to Pasadena, the one essential feature being that what they do fits in with the other factors in development, in several locations around the world we greatly have ten tative plans for overseas branches of the university. This will enable both nationals and missionaries to harness their part time for advanced studies. Plans for a Maya Studies Center in Quezaltenango, Guatemala, to name one example, are well along.

This eight year old document mentions a planned Maya Study Center"which became a casulty of the guerrilla war in Guatemala. AB major areas ate now in existence, plus FOUR sister centers in North America not then envisioned!

Also not then envisioned:

  1. A strong Masters Degree program in Applied Linguistics/Teaching English to Spreakere of Other Languages.
  2. A huge, nationwide extension program offering a solid credit bearing course, *Perspectives on the World Christian Movement"   what we then envisioned primarily as a program on our campus.
  3. An incomparable computer Center, and the associated (and in itself spectacular) Global Mapping Project
  4. An unusual BA. program which sends students overseas 6 =nibs every year, and requires them to he interns in one sense or another, to as to gain the kind of education only a job can give but also to prevent students from getting into college debts which war against Christian service.
  5. On and on.


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