The World Evangelical Alliance, from its inception in London England in 1846, had missions and evangelism as part of its core ethos. The first edition of the Alliance’s journal “Evangelical Christendom” carried news of missionary work around the world. As the world changed and the WEA adapted to meet the concerns of Evangelical churches around the world, its concern for missions and evangelism remained constant.
A rebirth of the Alliance in 1951 saw four commissions established, two of which were the Evangelism Commission and Missionary Commission. Under each successive Secretary General, the structure changed slightly and after the Lausanne Congress in 1974, Evangelism was amalgamated into the “Missions Commission” (as it was renamed at the time). The Commission’s mandate was to encourage greater cooperation in missions and to promote the missionary task of the Church to the world’s evangelical churches. Dr Chun Chae Ok (a South Korean woman) was the first Executive Director of the Missions Commission in 1974, until 1979. Dr Theodore Williams of India then held the role until Dr Bill Taylor from the USA took it up from 1986 to 2006. Dr Bertil Ekström led from 2006-2016 and David Ruiz from 2016-2018.
In 2018, as part of a WEA restructure led by Bishop Efraim Tendero, the Commission (since renamed the Mission Commission) was brought into a new department of Missions and Evangelism, with the Commission providing leadership for the department. The new department is responsible for promoting an integrated whole-of-life witness to those beyond the boundaries of the church (missions), with a particular concern for communicating the reason for the hope that we have (evangelism). The aim of the department is to foster deeper collaboration between outreach organizations and departments of National and Regional Evangelical Alliances that facilitate Evangelical witness near and far.
Dr Jay Matenga of New Zealand was appointed to lead the Mission Commission from 2020 and also now serves as the Director of the WEA’s Missions and Evangelism Department.