SOUTHEAST ASIA—For five days in March, over 350 mission leaders from every continent came together at ‘Ethne 06’ to celebrate “Great Commission” progress, assess status and accelerate efforts to reach the least-reached peoples of the world. The meeting was a continuation of numerous global consultations on unreached peoples that have been held over the years, growing out of the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement, the Great Commission Roundtable, and
Gathering in a SouthEast Asian country—which itself has many unreached people groups—the participants heard reports from Latin America, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, West and Central Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. While celebrating progress, participants were sobered by the reality of the world’s least-reached. Twenty years ago, 25% of the world had no access to the Gospel; today, that figure has risen to 28 percent. Meanwhile, in 1900, Christianity represented 33% of the world—a figure that has not changed over the past century. Participants also spent significant time in prayer for each of the regions and then broke into four strategy tracks dealing with global issues.
The Harvest Linked Prayer Strategy track carried forward a global initiative to facilitate a year-long prayer campaign for the least-reached peoples of the world. Track participants will be providing resources for each of 12 world regions including DVDs, prayer guides, bulletin inserts, and more. Currently resources are in 16 languages with more planned .
The UPG Workers Track focused on challenges and issues related to recruiting, training, deploying, and caring for workers sent from every continent to the least-reached. Track participants will be focused on identifying resources, developing resources where none exist, and promoting those resources particularly to those who are unaware of them.
The Frontier Crisis Response Network focused on the increasing numbers of natural disasters and how best to equip the church to be prepared for response in areas where there is no viable church to lead the response. Track participants will be working together to create a global network that can help communication and collaboration in crisis situations. Maybe more significantly, this group will develop strategies which build toward long term ministry in that area.
The Holistic Gospel Movement Track will share information, conduct joint research projects, and hold collaborative training events to see more gospel planting movements (also called church planting movements) that result in movements of consistently reproducing indigenous churches that seek to live out the whole gospel to the whole world.
On the last two days, a number of smaller workshops and seminars were held, on topics such as mobilization, communication, member care, and research.
On the final evening, the participants gathered for worship and to hear of exciting action steps put forward by each of the four strategy groups and by several of the workshops. Also, the Ethne06 Steering Committee was thrilled to announce that a general agreement has been reached (with details to be worked out before formal announcement) that another regional mission network would take the main lead in facilitating the next Ethne Steering Committee and next global “UPG-focused” meeting. In a closing commitment time, representatives from each of 12 regions, wearing their national dress served communion to the delegates and led a candle lighting ceremony. With many prayers, tears, and a general ‘family’ atmosphere, the delegates closed the meeting, renewed in their passion to reach the least-reached.
Dear Mission Commission Associates—global colleagues,
A short time ago I returned from the Ethné-06 consultation held in
It was a privilege to participate with some 360 other women and men from perhaps 50 nations in a thoughtful and celebratory occasion on behalf of the least reached peoples (LRP) of our world. Thanks be to God for the very diverse and strong coordinating team that envisioned, planned, invited, interceded, sweated, perhaps worried, and ultimately presented the consultation as an offering to the Triune Sending God. Special appreciation goes to Beram Kumar and Kent Parks, though they would be the first to say that their role was only part of a highly committed mosaic of women and men. I located at least the following MC Associates present: K Rajendran and his wife, Pramila, Kelly O’Donnell (representing our commitment to member care), Kent Parks, Beram Kumar, Todd Poulter, David Packiam,
Here is a version of summary reflections I was able to present the last night, just prior to the privilege of co-serving communion with Beram Kumar.
In essence my observations are summarized in my brief reflections.
It was a privilege to be present, to sense the Spirit at work and to articulate my thankful heart, for I was….
n Grateful for the superb team that gave us ETHNE-06
n Grateful for the focus on the local church; on intercession, with a diverse, strong and deep program, balancing plenary and smaller working teams.
n Grateful for the powerful stories of what God is doing in the world today, and the sobering reality of that which remains to be done.
n Grateful for the strong and consistent voices from the Global South, younger and older, revealing the new epicentre of missional thinking and doing.
n Grateful for the older and younger pioneers who have paid a huge price in global, long-term service.
And I challenged the participants in a call for “reflective practitioners”, as we have defined this concept within the MC.
n We may need to re-visit our favorite Bible mission passages. May God give us a more robust Great Commission. What might it do to us if we took what might have been our Lord’s “Great Commission” from Luke 4 and integrated it into our use of the classic missionary commissions.
n We must be wary of the easy trap of reductionism in mission thinking—whether the use of facile slogans, focusing on “closure” (which did not come up), enamored with overwhelming statistics, over-simplified geographical pictures, or other unhelpful over-simplifications of the challenging task before us.
n We must be sure to keep our mission language simple, true, understandable, Biblical and faithful to the treasure of the history of the church in mission.
n We will need to commission fresh work on key terms, definitions related to Least Reached People (LRP), and other issues that await fresh reflection.
n We must remember that the Triune Sending God sends from all nations to all nations—from and to North and South—and the sending is not over for the global North.
n We must articulate, defend and incarnate a Biblical theology of vocation, a theme that is critical to our future, and expressed in both the tentmaking and “business as mission” networks.
n We must not send out LRP workers without substantive and personalized pre-field equipping/training, preferably one that is grounded in a transformational community. And we must never send them out without the adequate, core “infrastructure” so that they will not only survive but thrive—a strong sending and supporting base
Thankfully, many of these issues are central to the agenda of the re-envisioned Mission Commission, and I look towards
And in the near future I shall be sending another call to intercession on behalf of SA06: the administrative and organizing team (from Kees van der Wilden with the hundreds of registration emails, to our South Africa logistics friends led by Eddie Robinson), to the invited participants as they make final decisions to come or to decline; for the program and both plenarists and working team coordinators; for the value of the South African Rand to the US dollar, which affects our budgeting process.
So the blessing of God upon each of you, and we shall see most of you in
In the Lamb,
William D Taylor, Executive Director