submitted by Debbie Wood
Another day at the races, ladies and gentlemen, with your eyes and ears at LatinoAmerica Dos Mil (2000) trying to visit as many of the venues as possible before the conclusion tomorrow.
I was *an *exciting* day with many *tremendous* presentations. I have never been more encouraged about the future of missions in and from Latin America.
You have perhaps heard on the news, the announcement that Guatemalas civil war has ended, as the guerillas have signed peace accords. We learned here that over 175,000 Guatemalans have died in the fighting and people were cautiously optimistic about the future. Pray for Guatemala.
Vonette Bright, the first morning plenary speaker no doubt had a few men shifting uncomfortably in their seats as she announced "There is not two commissions - one for men and one for women." She went on to describe how Bill, the founder and President of Campus Crusade for Christ, has always treated her as an equal partner in the ministry. She wanted only to be Mrs. Bill Bright, but he urged her to develop her capacity for leadership. As a result, she has often been a peer with men on committees and was one of three women on the original 50-member Lausanne Committee.
Her views changed over the years as she traveled the world and saw how often women were pushed down. Her voice rang out so that all could hear her warning clearly, "I feel that God may judge some men for limiting women and not allowing them to develop their leadership skills." She shared evidence that women enhance a committee and prevents tunnel visioned focus on results without consideration of how the results will help and hurt people on various levels. She urged women to become active in government as well. She urged men to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, to free her and encourage her ministry, and to let her know she is loved an appreciated.
(At least one woman at the conference exempifies this, a senator from who has run for President of her country and is making a second bid in the next election.)
Ana Maria Pereira, an attractive blonde from Brazil, shared her calling: to mobilize women through "Wake Up! Deborah." At GCOWE 95 in Seoul, a Korean girl had shared how thankful she was that her parents prayed her to God. The Korean Women's movement inspired Ana Maria and her husband to a wider vision. They got the idea of woman praying their children, not only to God, but from God to the world as missionaries. Their goal is to mobilize 25,000 mothers, who would then present to God 50,000 young people as missionaries. Thousands of mothers are already participating in prayer for their children and many teen agers are coming to Christ. The women commit to pray for at least 15 minutes per day, even if it is for 5 minutes 3 times.
She shared how mothers cry as they realize that their children are God's for His purpose, not theirs to keep. After our conversions, she said, we are no longer primarily Brazilians or Panamanians, teachers, homemakers etc., we are the Lord's and need to consecrate our children and our resources to world evangelization. One mother involved with Wake Up Deborah was praying for her three children to be mobilized as missionaries. Not only did God call the children to missions in three different countries, but the woman and her husband were also called to go as missionaries.
Anna Maria reminded us that we do not have a *second hand calling* as women. We are called personally to serve our Father. Just as Deborah, a mother in Israel stood in the gap, each one of us can be a Deborah to pray for the nations.
The next presentation was Doris Bush from the AD2000 International Office. She shared about her experiences, first in 1988, and again this year. While on the earlier visit, she observed much infighting among the churches and ministries while the Hindus were left blind and dying without the gospel. But much prayer has been focused since 1988 and God has been answering. Hearts are more open to the gospel, Indian Christians are being called to return to minister in the area most needing a witness. Best of all, perhaps is that churches and ministries are praying and working together to reach out to unreached people and to claim their cities for Christ.
Luis Bush left the speakers rostrum behind in order to get as close to the audience as possible, gesturing and leaning forward with his whole body over the edge of the stage as if to compel them to catch his enthusiasm for the vision of "a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000 through the Joshua Project 2000.
JP2000 is a global plan emphasizing the 1739 least-reached groups, so that a church-planting movement would be established in each one. It is for the whole church, women and children, Africans, Asians, as well as Europeans and Americans. Luis challenged delegates to sleep with a copy of the Joshua Project list under each pillow (does he do this?) and ask God to give a burden for them. He recommended that you read the Joshua Project list to become acquainted with names and locations, then choose one and pray until there is a church in that culture.
In the life of Joshua, we learn about our own roles. We must ask first for a spirit of mission. Joshua began as a servant of Moses, who was the servant of God. Young people today need to catch the vision just as Joshua did. Second we need the spirit of espionage. Just as Joshua saw God as stronger than the problems of the land, we need to see God as stronger than the spirits who have held these peoples in bondage for thousands of years. Intercession is key. Third, Joshua learned to be a soldier, and learned that the battle is spiritual. God commanded him to be valiant in his warfare. We must use armor for our battle in the spiritual world.
One way Latin American churches are responding to the needs of unreached people is through churches adopting a people group to focus prayer and other efforts until there is a church in that culture. Patricio Paredes, Director of the Adopt-A-People program for Latin America in conjunction with the Latin America mission's movement called COMIBAM responded to questions from Lus about the origin of the movement, and the relationship with Joshua Project 2000. Patricio reported to origination of the Adoption vision at the COMIBAM Congress in 1987 in Brazil that spawned the mission's vision that led to the launch of the movement in 1992 in Costa Rica.
In conclusion, Luis described ways to be involved in Joshua Project 2000 and challenged that, if there are 400 thousand churches in Latin America, we should be able to finish the task ourselves if necessary. He asked for those willing to be involved with the Joshua Project to raise their hands, and it looked like 80% responded. The time finished with a moment of consecration in prayer.
Bill Bright returned for a final exhortation on the work of the Holy Spirit before leaving for a 6-city speaking tour.
During the afternoon track time, I was able, with the help of a translator, to observe the National Coordinators of AD2000 Track. There are 18 of the 22 national coordinators attending from all over Latin America. The four who could not attend, each sent a representative.
Rolando Justiniano gave an example of what a local network looks like and how it works to enhance the ministry of all the pastors involved. The example was from Peru, where, of 20 churches in a small city, 7 pastors began to graduate from meeting each other for a worship service occasionally, to actually planning and working together. When ministry opportunities arose, they decided which one was most suited to respond. The results were so powerful that the mayor came to the meeting early and stayed late.
In the government and lawyers track, everyone had a story. And if I had spoken Spanish, I might be able to capture more of the important concepts they were discussing. There were at least 30 in the session, from the above mentioned lady senator from Colombia, to the ex-president of Guatemala. Discussions were passionate, largely focussing on the appropriate role of Christians in politics. The tension is between Christian political parties, which may not have enough strength to get candidate elected, or working with an existing party, in which case the danger is guilt by association.
The concept of Unreached peoples is a new one for Latin Americans, being confused as it is in North America, with unsaved people. The URP track, led by Patricio Paredes, has been spending time teaching the basics of unreached people theology to about 200 participants.
In the evening following presentation of the Joshua Project 2000 video, Avery Willis representing the Southern Baptists, presented Ruben Pieretti a map of unreached people along with a draft in English and Spanish, of a declaration for the denominational leaders.
John Robb of World Vision's unreached people division compared the army of God with the mighty Amazon river system, which starts as a trickle and ends 100 miles wide. He warned churches not to go out haphazardly, but to work with appropriate mission agencies. He urged us to practice holistic mission, with signs and wonders and kind deeds accompanying witness. He quoted Ghandi as saying "some are so poor, the only way that the gospel can reach is to come in the form of bread. Prayer is the essence of the church.
Just as God inscribed us in the palms of his hands, John asked the crowd to write the name of on unreached people group on their palms and to lift them up to God in prayer.
The final speaker of the day was Rudy Giron. He challenged the group to change their thinking, from Mercatur-map thinking, that North America is bigger and more significant than south, to McArthur Projection map, which flips the North and South to show the South on top.
He spoke about the missionary movement from Europe and North America and said that it was fine but decadent. This comment made me wonder what we were about to hear. But I soon realized that the word should have been translated, not decadent, but declining. In 1982, there were 75,000 North American missionaries. In 1993, the figure had dropped to only 30,000,, and 95% of funding for the North American missionaries is coming from the generation over age 55. . Career missionaries are disappearing from the scene as they retire or change jobs in the midst of a midlife crisis. Short term is more popular with younger Generation X. Where will God get the missionaries to finish the task? From Latin America! Amen!
The day ended with a visit from a talented local children's choir, dressed in brilliant gold satin gowns with the national maze-like fabric pattern decorating the top. They sang about sending the Light to street children.
Tomorrow: Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM
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