CAPE TOWN, South Africa – The tenth World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Mission Commission International Convocation opened in Cape Town, South Africa on Sunday evening with a keynote address from the outgoing executive director Dr. William Taylor, who reflected on his 20 years of service to the global body.
Over 300 participants, representing 54 countries, gathered for the “Global Issues Summit,” and listened intently as Taylor shared his experiences in expanding the organization from a “part-time dream job with no pay” to a community of missiologists in 80 countries.
“From the very first day, my mentor told me there would be no money for salary, but the world is before you,” said Taylor. “Now, the dream has become a global current of relationships, and I’ve had the privilege of serving with collegial cross-cultural servants.”
With teary eyes, Taylor reminisced on the moment he was first called to his position in 1986, and thanked those who mentored him along his journey.
“I have been shaped by the women and men that cared for me, invested in me, believed me, and loved me,” he said. “And prime of these is my wife, Yvonne, my life partner and silent colleague in MC service.”
At that light, he encouraged participants to open the weeklong conference with a desire to serve together and learn from one another as peers, teachers and students.
“As we engage in this week together, let us listen to each other,” said Taylor. “We need each other…the mission mobilizers and the missiologists need each other, the trainers and pastors need each other.”
Willie Crew, conference Coordinator, agreed that the greatest goal of the conference was to cooperate with God’s purpose at the center of all activities.
“We don’t need another conference,” Crew said. “We need God to break-in on us, so that when we leave here, we can go with a united purpose to achieve his will and his plans for the Kingdom of in the time we have here on Earth.”
The Mission Commission conference is held once every three years in alternate continents. This year’s conference is the first held in South Africa, and the second held in Africa.
The meeting, which lasts from Sunday, June 18 to Saturday, June 24, balances plenary addresses from top international missions leaders, as well as 15 teams in workshops, seminars, and networking sessions on the current state and future vision of world evangelization.
“The WEA Mission Commission is convening to look at some serious issues,” said Moss Ntlha, the General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance in South Africa. “For instance, how do we explain the fact that 70 percent of the HIV burden is on this continent when 70 percent of the people in South Africa are Christian? Is the Lord saying something to us that we are not hearing?
“We pray that the Lord will show us how we can do missions more effectively,” Ntlha added. “Let’s compare notes, and at the end of the five days we will come away as a stronger body of believers.”
Taylor agreed that this conference will provide landmark opportunities for positive changes in the field of Christian missions.
“Something happens when key leaders come together,” Taylor said. “There is a synergy -- a mystical synergy and a missional synergy -- that brings a deep transformation to the heart.”
On Wednesday evening, Taylor will step down from his post as the Executive Director, officially handing over leadership to Bertil Ekstrom from Brazil.
“My hope is that this transition would be a God-honoring one,” said Taylor, who served in the position since 1986.
Taylor said he plans to serve the commission for 15 more years as an ambassador, relinquishing executive authority while providing assistance in carrying out the commission’s goals.
Meanwhile, Ekstrom said he was thankful for the new opportunity and echoed Taylor’s call to stay relevant.
“The mission work requires great sensitivity and flexibility.” he explained. “We must be humble and recognize that the Empowering Spirit invites us to test new mission ideas and structures, forms and movements, and we must accept our limitations as we learn new things.”
The Mission Commission produces resources for mission movements around the globe. Free books and other print materials are available from www.wearesources.org.
World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)
World Evangelical Alliance is made up of 127 national evangelical alliances located in 7 regions and 104 associate member organizations. The vision of WEA is to extend the Kingdom of God by making disciples of all nations and by Christ-centered transformation within society. WEA exists to foster Christian unity, to provide an identity, voice and platform for the 420 million evangelical Christians worldwide.
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Dr. William Taylor,
Mission Commission Executive Director
Mr. Bertil Ekstrom
Mission Commission Executive Director Designate
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