From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 15:18:58


                       WORLD EVANGELIZATION 
                         By Julian Shipp 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Powered by a vision of the gospel of Jesus Christ reaching 
all people by the year 2000, delegates to the Global Consultation on World 
Evangelism (GCOWE) gathered in Seoul, Korea, May 17-26 to develop 
strategies toward that goal. 
     Among the more than 30 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) participants who 
attended the consultation both officially and unofficially were the Rev. 
Jeff Ritchie, associate for international evangelism in the Worldwide 
Ministries Division (WMD); the Rev. Walter J. Ungerer, member of the 
General Assembly Council; and the Rev. Harold Kurtz, executive director of 
Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship. 
     "The purpose for the conference was to get as many Christians who are 
actively involved in this evangelization momentum in one place to celebrate 
what has been done [in the past] and to plan for what still needs to be 
done," Ritchie said. "It was a mid-decade assessment and recommitment to 
the cause of [evangelism]." 
     Ritchie said the conference attracted more than 4,000 people, 
two-thirds of whom were from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, 
nations that contributed the majority of the consultation's funding. 
According to plenary session officials, there were more countries 
represented at the conference than at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. 
     "I believe I attended one of the largest gatherings of sales personnel 
in the world," Ungerer said.  "I do not mean this facetiously. Participants 
from more than 187 countries were filled with enthusiasm in the truest 
sense ... of that word. They were sold on Jesus Christ and their commitment 
to share the gospel with every known tongue and people's group by the year 
2000 was overwhelming. They put my commitment to shame." 
     Luis Bush of Argentina, international director of the AD2000 & Beyond 
Movement that organized GCOWE '95, said there were probably delegates from 
more countries of the world at the consultation than at any other event in 
Christian history.   
     Guided by the group's statement of purpose, Bush said, participants 
sought to encourage, motivate and network men and women church leaders by 
inspiring them with the vision of reaching the unreached by the year 2000 
through consultations, prayer efforts and communication materials. 
     "The expected result is the establishment of a mission-minded church 
planting movement within every significantly large ethnolinguistic people 
by AD 2000," Bush said. "So that every person might have a valid 
opportunity to experience the love, truth and saving power of Jesus Christ 
in fellowship with other believers." 
     Through the power of prayer, Ritchie and Ungerer said, meetings at 
each level took a dramatic turn from their intended agendas as participants 
spontaneously sought to reconcile past divisions.  Japanese knelt before 
Koreans, Arab Christians embraced Jewish Christians and Russian Orthodox 
Christians apologized to evangelicals and pentecostals of the former Soviet 
     Ritchie said he will never forget the moment he witnessed the gospel 
penetrate a gathering of Christians representing unevangelized areas of the 
     "I attended a meeting of Christians who were representing countries 
that were primarily Muslim from the Central, Middle East and Asian part of 
the world [and] who hadn't had much of a Christian witness five years 
before [this conference]," Ritchie said. "It was a foretaste of the 
scriptural allusion to the fact that all of the tribes will stand before 
the throne of grace and God. It was a little bit of heaven right here on 
     Additionally, Ungerer said he was astounded by the role of women at 
this conference, primarily because they represented more than 28 percent of 
the delegation and were from Third World countries. 
     "The women were articulate, committed and in a very loving way told 
the men there,  We want to be partners with you in ministry,'" Ungerer 
said. "These women were first and foremost concerned with bearing witness 
to who they were as Christian women in their cultures through Jesus Christ, 
and their justice issues took second place." 
     At the end of the meeting, delegates adopted the GCOWE '95 
Declaration, which declares a primary, but not exclusive, focus on the 
"10/40 Window," an imaginary rectangle stretching from 10 to 40 degrees 
north of the equator from West Africa to East Asia, where the greatest 
concentration of unevangelized people reside. That event, called "Pray 
Through the Window II," will be held in October. 
     Ritchie said WMD will submit two items for action stemming from the 
conference to the General Assembly Council meeting in July. The proposals 
affirm the denomination's commitment to worldwide evangelism and encourage 
Presbyterians to participate in October's prayer event. 
     "I hope we have opportunity to speak to the General Assembly Council," 
Ungerer said. "And I hope we have an opportunity to speak at the General 
     "There's a momentum going forward that will not be stopped because God 
is in it," Ritchie said.  "God is completing the task of world 
evangelization through the various people of the world, through suffering, 
in spite of suffering, through technology and sometimes in spite of 
     GCOWE '95 marked a radical shift from the days of 
American/European-only missions, according to Bush. He said the 
consultation became a "rite of passage," since Western missionaries took 
notes as African, Asian and Latin American leaders presented their 
successful methodology, confirming that they had become full partners in 
the task of world evangelism. 
     As proof of its commitment to this task, the AD2000 & Beyond Movement 
intends to dissolve on Dec. 31, 2001. With its international headquarters 
in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the movement includes regional affiliates 
throughout the world and includes denominations, mission societies and 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home