April 17-19, 1997
Pasadena, California USA
These reports are written by and downloaded from Caleb Project.<>
Approximately 250 people are gathering today at the US Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California for the start of the Gateway People Cluster Consultation. Called together by a Consultation Task Force chaired by Caleb Project President Greg Fritz, the meetings include people representing a large number of organizations working in the 10/40 Window. They've come together with the purpose of bringing greater definition and focus to the concept of Gateway People Clusters. Gateway People Clusters, or GPCs, are large groups of peoples that share a cultural affinity. In addition to exploring strategies focused on these GPCs, conference participants will be working to identify the "resource advocates" who can build bridges between the field and the resource base, helping others maximize opportunities and avoid ministry pitfalls as they work within the 10/40 Window.
The world is changing at an incredible pace, said Phill Butler, President of Interdev, in his opening address. There are more new nations in the world than there have been in any period in this century. With dramatic changes at every level of society, perceived need is at its highest point ever. In the gospels, all of Jesus' personal encounters were with people who were acknowledging their awareness of needs. "With so many people among the unreached asking so many questions and expressing such desperate need, we face the most extraordinary opportunity in the history of the world."
"Now is the time for the Church around the world to join hands to walk through amazing doors of opportunity," said Butler. He went on to call for intentional, strategic, prayer-based coordination between the resources God is raising up in many countries and the work in the field.
The evening included a panel reviewing critical issues relating to building partnerships. These issues will be further discussed in working groups that will meet throughout the Consultation to develop strategies for specific Gateway People Clusters. Both Butler and Luis Bush, International Director of AD2000 and Beyond, emphasized that this is a working conference dependent on the participation of all those present.
In his address on the vision for global mobilization, Bush said that "We need to be asking how we can mobilize the church to embrace the concept, and the commitment, to reach the unreached peoples." But this raises significant issues. Bush added that "We are here to pose some of the questions that are on our minds. And there is much cause for hope as we gather together to work on these issues. There is tremendous power and effectiveness in God's people working together."
Although it is exciting to see God's kingdom being advanced, we are also sobered by the issues that need to be resolved before His Great Commission can be fulfilled. "History has shown that throughout the ages, whenever the Kingdom advanced someone first had to pay a terrible price," said Butler. "Jesus never talked about success, but relentlessly talked about faithfulness." Thank you for your prayers for this consultation and for your partnership in the Gospel.
Today in Pasadena participants of the Gateway People Cluster Consultation began their second day of meetings with an exhortation from World Vision President John Bendor-Samuel. "Diversity magnifies God." Impressed by the wide range of backgrounds and perspectives represented in the Consultation attendance, he added, "Together we are enhancing the volume of the praise of God." Worshipping God and serving one another as sisters and brothers was a theme throughout the day. "The only way partnership will work is if we are willing to get down on our knees together before the Lord to pray," said another participant, a missionary to Central Asia.
Following Bendor-Samuel's talk, leaders from twenty AD2000 and Beyond Tracks and Task Forces began giving reports with concrete examples and challenges for a vast variety of work being done for the cause of world evangelization. C. Peter Wagner of the United Prayer Track challenged that, "Powerful prayer can exponentially increase the spread of the Kingdom of God throughout the Earth." The head of the Crisis Relief Task Force shared the sobering picture of an estimated 38 ethnic conflicts around the world with as many as 40 million refugees and displaced people, and the opportunities this provides for evangelism.
The bulk of the day was spent in working groups, roundtable discussions through which participants examined key issues facing the Church in the task of reaching the great groups of unreached peoples, the Gateway People Clusters. In many cases the groups came to conclusions that contradicted the working assumptions with which they began. For example, the Consultation Task Force charged each group to define the terms and roles needed to facilitate the flow of information, prayer and resources between the field and the resource base. The working groups realized that roles were probably less important than describing the tasks involved and encouraging each partnership to fill them in creative and appropriate ways. The working groups also reached a general consensus that building partnerships and advocacy networks requires a servant attitude and a multi-national approach. Furthermore, these networks must be field driven and sensitive to security concerns.
"This is a process, not an event," emphasized Phill Butler of Interdev. "This is the first intentional consultation with the purpose of bringing together a large number of people to discuss these particular issues. We are not expecting to propose solutions, but to suggest some next steps. Among the unreached peoples there's a huge continuum. Hundreds of people groups have no Christian witness at all beyond the general revelation of creation. Others have had a Christian presence for a hundred years, and have 25 agencies on the field, but no indigenous church. This is a very complicated world we live in. Each situation has different requirements. In planning the Consultation the task force tried to identify the issues, put them out in a forum, and get people around the table to talk about how we can do things better."
Tomorrow's discussion will focus on some potential next steps and tools available for partnerships and advocates. Patrick Johnstone will also lead a session on refining the lists of unreached peoples on the Joshua Project list and its Gateway People Clusters. Please pray that the Consultation will finish well and the participants continue to build relationships that will bring glory to God. "It's been a great joy watching God answer our prayers," says Consultation Chairman Greg Fritz.
Today was the final day of the Gateway People Cluster Consultation in Pasadena. The Consultation began with a reminder to participants to remain focused on Jesus. In a message from the books of Samuel, Paul Cedar of Mission America illustrated how God requires us to inquire of Him and then He leads us to the strategy. "In a conference like this, it's very easy to forget Jesus. When we leave this afternoon, what we need to know is what God would have us do," Cedar charged.
During the morning main session, more of the AD2000 and Beyond Tracks and Task Forces shared about their vision and work. These reports provided strategic introductions to opportunities for further partnership. Patrick Johnstone of the Unreached Peoples Track shared that, "By 2000 we hope to have teams in place for possibly 95-100% of the Joshua Project 2000 peoples. To see a church planting breakthrough by the year 2000 in 100% of the peoples will take a tremendous move of God, and that seems less likely. But we want to get as close to 100% as possible and develop as much momentum as possible. I reckon we might achieve 70-80% by 2001, and will reach 100% within our generation!"
The morning continued with the final session of working groups and feedback sessions, through which a bulk of the specific, creative planning and evaluation took place. In an afternoon session, Phill Butler summed up the findings of these working groups with several points. Throughout the consultation, a high level of interest has been expressed in having some sort of structure or clearinghouse established through which field workers and mobilizers, advocates, intercessors and senders can learn of and from each other as well as access materials and resources. Further consultations on a regional, people-, or cluster-specific level could also be invaluable in describing and forming these structures as well as building the relationships of trust and respect needed to make them work. This process, however, will require a proactive servant attitude in order to succeed.
Issues of security also remained key in the discussion as the need was expressed for more standard guidelines and terminology. In addition, participants pointed out the inadequate general awareness and training in specific security issues among all sides involved in sensitive areas of the world. Many also felt the critical need for a higher commitment to including field workers in key decisions as they are being made which deeply affect those working in the field. This was followed by the expressed need for much better communication between mission agencies and churches. The concept of a clearinghouse of information could potentially aid greatly in these processes to link people together and improve communication and trust.
One of the unique aspects of this consultation has been the strong emphasis on sharing resources. The afternoon was wrapped up with a presentation of various materials and resources of information available to train and equip partnership facilitators and unreached people advocates. Throughout the Consultation, participants were encouraged to look for ways to serve as advocates and raise up others to join them. John Hanna of Caleb Project "advocacy is about learning, linking, and loving," and challenged participants to "Find opportunities to share your passion."
Unlike other conferences, which are staged to launch a program, this Consultation was designed to birth a process. Phill Butler said, "This is now a moving train and we are only laying some tracks." Therefore, in place of a conference declaration the participants closed out the consultation uniting their hearts and minds in a prayer of purpose, declaring to God, "We share your passion and love for the peoples of this planet. Our heart's desire is that they would know you as Lord and savior. We want to be used by you to complete the task you assigned us long ago. Lord, we seek you."
Back to the AD2000 Conferences page
Back to the AD2000 home page