It was quite inspirational to give God praise in a room of 4,200 people from 135 countries. Even though we are taught in Sunday school that God in an equal opportunity listener to prayers you have to think he gave special notice of this gathering.
I attended the Mission Executives sub-consultation and I was concerned it would be yet another inspirational time with little work done. My fears melted away when Luis Bush handed us all a copy of the new book compiled for GCOWE by the AD2000 and Beyond Movement called the "Global Guide to Unreached Peoples." The book was the catalyst for small group work over the next two days in groups by regions of the world. When the results were tallied on the final day 390, ethnic groups previously with no church or church planters now had missionary agency leaders who had adopted them as peoples to present to their organizations in hopes of sending new church planting teams.
(AD2000 office clarification: The above statement should read "selected" as opposed to "adopted". The only commitment the mission agency leaders made at GCOWE'97 was to present those peoples to their agencies for consideration.)
I had such frustration while in seminary finding materials that told where the greatest need for missionaries is. Instead each agency promotes their own focus as the greatest need though they are biased by their own needs for new recruits. I wanted a guide that was unbiased that would steer new recruits. When in China I even sketched out the cover of a book I hoped to write someday. Though I never had heard of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement the title of my book was "World Evangelism 2000 - A guide to match your giftings with the world's needs." I didn't show my dream to many people. Now I have had the opportunity to work on producing the "Global Guide to Unreached Peoples" and seeing that book distributed to mission leaders worldwide.
I was encouraged by this but more optimistic when it was reported that the leaders in the African National Initiatives sub-consultation had taken on 222 of the peoples in Africa still without known church planting teams. Since these were mostly African leaders adopting peoples in their own countries I am quite optimistic that something will come of this commitment. Luis Bush reported on the last night that now 90% of the 1,739 peoples in this book (though some data not shown for security reasons) now have names and addresses registered indicating a church planting movement in their midst or at least a commitment to mobilize a team of church planters.
I enjoyed speaking to the 300 South African pastors in their sub-consultation. I challenged them to be patient with the mission agencies and to work with them rather than against them as is the trend in some churches these days.
Yes we made some significant progress at GCOWE 97 toward what it will take to complete the Great Commission but beyond the recruitment and research plans that were made here lie the actual deployment of workers into some of the most hostile places on earth. I met workers who are doing secret work in those areas this week. They seem to take the death of a co-laborer as one more fallen soldier in the winning battle to see the scene predicted in Revelation of people from every tribe, nation and language wearing white robes worshipping God. I trust GCOWE 97 speeded up that scene a little. It was an honor to be a part of this.
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