The GCOWE '97 process is already bearing fruit toward the Joshua Project 2000 focus on collecting data. This data includes who is targeting which unreached people to assure that all peoples are targeted for church planting. In May of this year, the AD2000 and Beyond Movement International Office sent a mailing to 2400 mission agencies and denominational sending agencies requesting such information. The mailing included a survey form for the Joshua Project 2000 list of priority peoples and an invitation for these leaders to attend the Missions Executives conference, one of nine parallel conferences during GCOWE '97. It requested that leaders provide information for a book, Global Guide to Unreached Peoples, to be presented at the conference. The proposed compendium would provide work-among information to facilitate better distribution of mission resources.
The results would only be published if there were a 10% or more response. Two months after the mailing was sent, 286 surveys (12%) had been returned to the AD2000 International Office from mission agencies in 53 different countries. The surveys contained an estimated 9400 check marks, each representing a level of involvement targeting one of the Joshua Project 2000 priority peoples. The information that was not marked "secure" is being made available on the AD2000 World Wide Web page. See "Others Involved with this Group" at the bottom of the example Tatar profile in this article. The final results of the survey will be available in the final book publication to be released for discussion and feedback at GCOWE '97.
About 60% of the data received from the survey has been recorded in the AD2000 International Office master database. As of late July 1996, this database shows in regards to the 1739 Joshua Project 2000 unreached peoples: 533 church planting in progress efforts, 354 future church-planting efforts planned, 785 current evangelistic outreaches, 476 future evangelistic outreaches planned, 389 peoples that have an agency willing to assist a research team to that people, 109 agencies that would welcome candidate referrals for people interested in working with unreached peoples, and 728 peoples for which agencies have data they are willing to share.
In addition to the information received from the survey, the following data has been collected elsewhere: 46 people advocates/nonresidential missionaries registered, 256 general people group contacts identified, 266 adoptions by churches or prayer groups , 195 people wanting to organize an adoption by their church, and 53 people wanting to join a long-term church-planting effort to a Joshua Project 2000 people.
Names and addresses for all of the people and agencies that registered the above data are maintained by the AD2000 International Office. Like-minded people and organizations are being made aware of one another's activities. GCOWE '97 will be the first time that heads of mission agencies and denominations will meet together and be able to use this collection of "work-among data" to more effectively partner together and deploy new teams to peoples that have no partnership of agencies working to reach them.
George Verwer, the International director of Operation Mobilization and Chairman of the AD2000 & Beyond Track for the mobilization of new missionaries, is the co-leader of the GCOWE '97 Consultation of Mission Executives. Rev. Verwer writes of the strategic importance of GCOWE '97 for mission executives:
"My first reaction to hearing about this event was, 'Oh no, another conference!' After considerable prayer and consultation, especially with Francois Vosloo in South Africa, I really sense that God is doing something unusual in that land and that this whole unique event is part of something much bigger.
"My invitation to you is really on behalf of the leaders and visionaries in South Africa who are setting the pace in organizing and co-ordinating this huge event. We are especially praying that many will come from Africa, but at the same time, the door is open for people from other parts of the world.
"Many of our missionaries are working together in the field and yet we seldom meet one another. I believe such a meeting is long overdue and now well worth the time and expense to gather together for payer, discussion, ministry and planning.
"I feel it is especially important for us to listen to one another and attempt to have greater grace-awakened unity and cooperation for the task of world evangelization, and especially reaching the more unreached."
Avery T. Willis, Senior Vice President of Overseas Operations of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and Chairman of the AD2000 Denominational Leaders Track, is the other Co-Director of the Missions Executive Conference at GCOWE '97. He writes of this consultation:
"The Mission Executives Conference of GCOWE '97 to be held in Pretoria, South Africa June 30 - July 5, 1997, will seek to reach several objectives:
"...[O]ur mission executives track will be a working meeting in which we grapple with the issues of world missions and the Kingdom agenda.
"This is a meeting I don't want to miss because it will help us to get in all that God is doing around the world. Jerry Rankin, President of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, USA, says, 'We would like to get all those involved from around the world together to consult on challenges and strategies affecting missions and move toward mobilizing the mission forces of Christ to assault Satan's strongholds where the light of the gospel has not yet penetrated.'"
Of the 1739 Joshua Project 2000 peoples, 568 are located on the African continent. That is one third of the entire list. Of the 216 "priority one" peoples (least reached of the 1739) on the Joshua Project 2000 list, 72 are found on the African continent. That is one third of the priority one peoples. Willie Crew, a key planner for GCOWE '97, states a desired spirit of cooperation to "research and reach all of the Joshua Project 2000 peoples in all countries south of the equator [of Africa] by the year 2000." Crew directs the World Mission Centre in Pretoria which devised a strategy to send research teams and eventually church-planting teams to the 111 least-reached peoples in southern Africa.
The World Mission Centre which will host GCOWE '97 was the host of the 1995 Love Southern Africa Conference which drew 5600 church leaders. At the end of this four-day consultation, nearly 2000 people were commissioned for 1-3 week outreaches in African countries south of the Sahara. Several of these teams did quality research on unreached people groups with many well-written profiles resulting.
After twenty years of restricted international travel due to Apartheid, missions leaders of the new South Africa are eager to steer these thousands of new missionaries toward the most unreached peoples of the world. GCOWE '97 will be an opportunity for world mission veterans to share their insight with this powerful new missions movement from South Africa who very much wants to be a full player in Joshua Project 2000.
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