Remembering 3 Years Ago: "GCOWE 95 Now History"

by Doug Lucas

Three years ago this week, Brigada Today carried the following story. We print it here as a tribute to the fact that Luis Bush and AD2000 & Beyond probably figured it right-"If we build it, they will come!" It worked. Churches and organizations from all over the world have adopted and continue to adopt the world's least reached peoples, at least in part, because of the promotion provided by GCOWE 95 and the events that followed it. So as you read this 3-year-old document and tread back into the twilight of 1995, join us in looking toward the future, when Dec. 31st, 2000, comes breaking upon us . . . when we can truly celebrate the new open doors and the new open fellowships of churches because of those who have picked up the baton. Here's the 1995 article:

"They came together from all over the world -- 186 nations to be exact. It was called the Global Consultation on World Evangelization-and global is right! Our count revealed 3293 delegates plus a total of 827 guests, intercessors, staff and volunteers resulted in 4120 individuals gathered for one and only one purpose-to glorify God and hasten the evangelization of the world in which we live. May 17-25 won't be soon forgotten, whether in Korea or in parts far flung. What themes will be remembered??? Among them will be ...

  1. Reconciliation-Japanese with Koreans, Arabs with Jews, Russian Orthodox with evangelicals, denominations with other denominations.
  2. 10/40 Window-From the sermons and presentations to the planning and even the singing... we won't forget the imaginary rectangle stretching from ten to forty degrees North of the equator, from West Africa to East Asia, where the greatest concentration of unevangelized people reside.
  3. Int'l participation-Not only were two-thirds of the participants from Africa, Latin America and Asia, but the majority of the consultation's funding came from those nations as well. Western missionaries took notes as African, Asian and Latin American leaders presented their successful methodology. They had become full partners in the task.
  4. Prayer-At the great evangelical consultations (Lausanne I, Lausanne II in Manila, etc.), prayer has always been an ingredient. But some-even the "old-timers"-said they couldn't remember a time when prayer permeated every component so thoroughly. Who can forget the Cities Track closing, where Viv Grigg organized separate, targeted prayer for each region being reported on? Who will ever forget the Concert of Prayer during the plenary? Prayer in the hallways, prayer in the national meetings, prayer here, prayer there...... prayer as a major weapon or tool in our confrontation with the enemy. It was clear that prayer had finally "arrived"-and was seen as a superior "weapon" in the international worker's tool box, along with less powerful tactical strategies or scientific church growth approaches.
  5. Networking-Some said that the most valuable times came not during a main plenary session, or even the tracks, but rather in the hallways, over the dining tables, and on the buses, where international workers from around the world met up with mutually helpful contributors from continents around the globe.
  6. Promise-From all the media accounts and reports from the International Office, you'd think this would be the consultation to end all consultations! Well it just might be! As strategies are completed and partnerships gel, God just might raise up international forces that would reach parts of our world that have never been reached before.

In the end, however, what was GCOWE 95 =not= about? From all appearances, it was not about a global plan. Perhaps it was never meant to be. At one point in the conference, I wrote, "Today, I've been sensing a special burden for the fact that there are only four days left of this conference. I'm only one participant-but as for this participant, I was very concerned about the fact that to me, it seemed we hadn't been told exactly what part we were all supposed to play in this giant tapestry that is supposed to be called, the AD2000 & Beyond movement. In other words, how will we honestly pull it off.... the goal of "A Church for Every People, and the Gospel for Every Person by the year 2000." I was feeling that there was no "global master plan." I was feeling as if it was being left to chance. I was asking myself, "Can it be done by Dec. 31, 2000?" I was answering, "Unless someone spells out a strategy in the next four days, I'm not sure there would be any earthly means. It would be totally in God's hands." Then it occurred to me, maybe that's exactly what the leaders of this conference want us to realize. They're hoping we'll take this goal and apply it to our own network, be it countrywide, region-wide, or wider. They're hoping we'll carry it to our 'track'-be it "Saturation Evangelism", "Denominational Leaders", or whatever. As a result, it feels.... less "organized." (OM Director George Verwer says "Where two or three are gathered together, there you have a mess!") It feels kind of as if we're leaving something to chance. On the other hand, the AD2000 & Beyond movement's leaders are probably asking themselves, "How can we presume to forge a global plan among so many varying participants?" And you know what? They're probably right. Even if they tried... it probably would never work. Maybe the world is too complex to divide up into a mosaic of people groups and expect various parts to "claim" various segments of the tapestry. Maybe it won't feel as tidy-but maybe it's for the best. ......... And, after all is said and done, maybe they're thinking that we toss out the bold goal that would be impossible through man's efforts-then we all go to our knees knowing that it all depends on God. If God accomplishes it, we will celebrate. But even if He doesn't, we will still have formed a church that looks more like his prayer in John 17. And maybe that, in and of itself, is worth all the energy invested!"

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