For the 4,000-plus participants present at the occasion -- representing
ministries in some 195 countries in the globe -- the weeks of
anticipation for GCOWE '95 were warmly rewarded.
after glittering performance on the stage of Love Hall in Seoul's
Korean Center for World Missions, Korean Christians showed their
love of the Lord, their immense artistic depth, and their generous
hospitality in a welcoming cultural pageant. Said Fred P. Deegbe,
a pastor from Accra, Ghana, "I think the work of the Korean
Christians was fantastic. The use of musical instruments unfamiliar
to most of us in praise of God gave me a new sense of music in
worship. It was a very warm welcome." It was indeed. The
cultural pageant introduced an atmosphere of deep and moving worship
as the GCOWE '95 participants from 195 different countries around
the world settled in for an exciting 10 days of consultations.
"It is my great joy and privilege to welcome all of you,
my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ from the four corners
of the earth," said Dr. Hyung-Ja Lee, Vice-President of the
Korean Preparation Committee. "Not even during the 1988 International
Olympic Games held in Korea did I see so many nations and so many
distinguished guests represented at this gathering," she
She was right. With world royalty, senior judges, professors and members of national legislatures from all over the world represented, the participants in this week's Christian consultation in Seoul may be the most diversely representative gathering of Christians ever brought together in one place. They were here, of course, for one purpose, the declared one of the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement: "A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person by the Year 2000."
It was appropriate, too, that Korea is the host for this vitally important meeting. With 25% of its 45 million people Christian after barely a century of firm Christian presence, the Korean church has become one of the most vigorous and mature churches in the world. Dr. Joon Gon Kim, Chairman of the Korean Preparatory Committee for GCOWE '95 expressed the significance of this in a press conference the first day of consultation. One of the nation's spiritual goals, he explained, was that "Korea will become a sending nation, with the maximum use of prayer, personal and monetary resources." He looked forward, he said, to the day when tens of thousands of Korean students would spread out both northward to North Korea, when that country opened up, and to the rest of the world.
Other key figures at the press conference, AD 2000 & Beyond International Director Luis Bush (see accompanying story,) and<> Associate Director John Richard, from India, echoed these sentiments. "We will need at least 1.25 million missionaries by the year 2000 if each of these is to have an impact on 5,000 people," said Richard. But if that seemed a challenging target, many of the early plenary speakers to the assembled participants were encouragingly hope-filled in their assessment of the tasks ahead. British expert on global evangelization Dr. Patrick Johnstone put it this way, "Let us be single-minded, committed, and full of faith in our great God to see this fully achieved in our generation and that this conference be the vital catalyst for its attainment."
With some 17 different tracks for consultation mixed in among the plenary sessions, GCOWE '95's international cast turned Seoul's magnificent Torch Center into a mini-U.N. of Christian witness. During lunch-time and dinner breaks in the plaza Africans and Asians, Latin Americans and Europeans, North Americans and Australians mixed together in an animated mix of languages and accents, their multi-colored robes and head-dresses brilliantly reflecting the truly global nature of Christian evangelization today. Many of the GCOWE '95 participants had saved sacrifically. The 170 Indian participants had all purchased their own air-fares, many of them giving up the equivalent of several months' wages to do so. The sacrifice was repeated by participants from many other countries too. It was thus appropriate that the foreign visitors to Korea made the important point: in order to host GCOWE '95 at all, the Korean church had generously contributed an astonishing $3.5 million. As the participants gradually got used to the complicated logistics to bus them to and from hotels and guest houses, and began to absorb the rich material the array of dazzling speakers offered them in plenary and track sessions, there were nevertheless some useful reminders of why GCOWE '95 was happening at all. "Why have you come here?" one of our reporters asked Mrs. Kulzhan A. Bidibekova from Kazakhstan. As if asked something too obvious, she replied with a smile, "Because God."