Tuesday, July 1, 1997
With high hopes for increased cooperation and coordination in reaching the unreached peoples, 557 mission agency executives from 65 countries met today, Tuesday, July 1, at Central Baptist Church in Pretoria, South Africa as part of GCOWE 97, the Global Consultation On World Evangelization. This is the largest gathering of mission agency leaders on a global level since Edinburg 1910 and the most representative in history. The focus of this 3 day meeting is on encouraging the delegates to take responsibility to reach the 579 unreached peoples that are currently reported to have no church planting work, and to develop agency partnerships to reach them.
The opening morning session featured impassioned messages by Panya Baba, leader of the Evangelical Church of West Africa and George Vewer, founder and director of Operation Mobilization. Rev. Baba, honorary co-chairman of the mission executives meeting, called the delegates to a new emphasis on a "biblical gospel." According to Baba, the church has proclaimed an inadequate gospel that has led to division and conflict. A truly biblical gospel will bring believers together in humility to proclaim the gospel. "God is declaring to mission leaders that we must have "unity in our diversity," says Baba. Baba pointed the mission executives the Jesus's prayer in John 17 where he prayed that his disciples and those who would follow would be one in unity so that the world would know that God the Father sent him.
George Verwer, co-chairman of the mission executives meeting, in his typically passionate style called the delegates to purity and integrity of heart as we humbly work with one another. Quoting Phil. 2:3 he said, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than himself. This means an end to the cheap boasting and exaggeration of evangelistic claims." In accord with the theme of working together, Verwer called for a new partnership between denominational and para- church agencies and the local church. He warned that this will not be easy it will take ongoing forgiveness. "The process of bringing unity in diversity requires a long-term commitment to forgive and forgive and to forgive some more."
The afternoon session focused on an overview of some of the most promising resources and strategies in reaching the unreached peoples and how agencies can partner together more effectively reach the unreached peoples These included the Jesus Film, Chronological story- form teaching, Scripture translation progress, and sports outreaches as an evangelistic common ground with unbelievers. Phil Butler of Interdev presented a strong case for agencies working together to eliminate duplication and to work in a coordinated fashion.
The day was capped off by a cutting-edge missiological presentation by the renowned missiologist and founder of the unreached peoples movement, Dr. Ralph Winter founder of the US Center for World Mission in Pasadena California. The usually optimistic Winter remarked, "The World Christian Movement has largely stalled in relation to the Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist blocks of unreached peoples. We cannot reasonably expect to achieve the goals of the marvelous AD2000 Movement without a significant change in strategy. More of the same will not be enough." Winter argued for a De- Westernized and contextualized gospel that would more easily penetrate and spread throughout these resistant spheres to become indigenous to these "resistant" peoples. He argued that the Word of God is the key to a contextualizd biblical movement within these spheres that can prevent or transform heretical movements. The man who at the Lausanne 1974 meeting launched the unreached peoples movement is still challenging leaders of the global Christian movement to broaden their thinking.
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