Singapore, 5 March 1997
By Ed Pousson, Joshua Project 2000 Coordinator for SE Asia
Wednesday 5 March marked the final day of the Joshua Project 2000 Southeast Asia Consultation, which carried the theme, "A Church for Every People." The main speakers for this regional consultation were Luis Bush, international director of AD2000 & Beyond, John Robb of World Vision and AD2000, David Shibley of Global Advance, and Lawrence Khong, senior pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore.
The consultation was held at Trinity Christian Centre, a 3000-member church in Singapore pastored by Rev. Dr. Naomi Dowdy. This missions-involved church had just concluded their own mission convention, during which members pledged a total of $1,290,063.84 for missions. The consultation was graciously hosted and served by members of the church's pastoral team and staff, along with students from Theological Centre for Asia, an accredited school associated with the church.
In all, 402 delegates came together from 19 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, The United States, and Turkey. Most were pastors, mission executives, missionary trainers and mobilizers, strategy coordinators, and missionaries. About 85 were theological students.
Key missions organizations represented by their top leaders included Asia Missions of the Philippines, the National Research Network of Indonesia, CSI, DAWN Malaysia, the Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia, and many others. Having these people together to focus on the unreached peoples of their region was positively fruitful. The right mix of people and the right atmosphere resulted in several strategic proposals for adopting unreached peoples and forming cooperative networks for reaching them.
For example, the majority of those who attended the Cambodia workshop showed interest in networking with the Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia for a more effective outreach to the unreached peoples there. The Cambodian leaders proposed a Joshua Project 2000 national missions consultation in Cambodia. Delegates in the Indonesia workshop rose up the challenge of how to reach 23 gateway clusters totaling 140 unreached peoples in Indonesia. They discussed a new network, "Joshua Project 23," which they will launch in Jakarta on 8 April this year. Their plan is to develop 23 mission networks: one for each of the 23 gateway clusters in the nation. They will create an integrated database for sharing strategic information across the Internet without compromising security.
This will be incorporated with other worldwide databases. Of the 140 names of the unreached peoples plastered on the walls in the Indonesia workshop, 100 remained after delegates pull down those they knew to be engaged.
Under the leadership of Rev. Rafael Navarro, delegates in the Philippines workshop made three specific commitments to one another: 1) cooperation in research, 2) commitment to share resources, and 3) coordinating church planting efforts. They drew up plans for a regional people-profiling project this May and June. This will be followed up by a church mobilization event focused on unreached peoples in the Philippines, December 4-6, 1997. Participants in this workshop adopted five to seven specific unreached peoples of the Philippines. The facilitator of the Thailand explained that every person in the country apparently belongs to one unreached people or another, seeing that less than 1% of them are Christians. In this workshop, 12 people committed to make Thailand a focus of their ministry. This includes specific prayer commitments to at least one unreached people group.
Several churches represented in the China workshop decided to adopt peoples there. Others have agreed to organize prayer walks among them. Interestingly, the pastor of the Chinese congregation of the host church, though not a delegate, made connections with participants of the China workshop in regards to a people group adopted by her congregation.
Specific plans and commitments came out of every workshop. These plans represent hope for the unreached. The relationships begun or strengthened in the consultation will become the links and bridges to the unreached peoples of the region and beyond.
Pastor Lawrence Khong, for the closing plenary address, challenged delegates to recover the apostolic function of the church. This was a powerful message that stirred hearts and raised faith to a higher level. The consultation ended with a declaration that, not only sounded key themes from the plenary addresses, but also seemed to capture something of the spirit of that God was saying and imparting through these three wonderful days.
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