Published September 9, 2010
PRAGUE (BP) — “We thought this would take years to develop, this concept of the internationalization of missions,” said Gordon Fort, vice president of the International Mission Board’s office of global strategy. But it’s apparent “that God has already been doing stuff that we had no idea about,” Fort said, “and we’re just beginning to get in on it.”
Fort spoke of the internationalization of missions – Christians all over the globe sending their own missionaries into other countries to share the Gospel – at the European National Partners in Mission Sending Consultation in Prague, Czech Republic, earlier this summer.
Leaders from the International Mission Board (IMB) joined missionary-sending organizations from Romania, Germany, and Panama. Also participating in the discussions on global evangelization were representatives from the College of Theology and Education in Moldova and Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
During the conference, leaders forged partnerships and shared their struggles and victories in sending cross-cultural missionaries – people from all nations, to all nations to share Christ.
Those from Central and Eastern Europe spoke about their struggles with churches that still operate under a communist-era mentality. Some shared stories of traveling to more than 300 churches, urging pastors to embrace a focus on missions. Others emphasized the urgency of sending missionaries to unreached people groups in Central and South Asia. The leaders shared ideas and needs, pinpointing ways they could assist each other.
“When I see the pictures and I hear the testimonies, I know that we are sharing lots of things, even though we are so far [away from one another] and have different contexts,” said Carlos Gomez, leader of PAAM, a Panamanian missions organization. “We have the same challenges. We find problems with money issues [and] churches with no missionary culture. But overall the main challenge we have is to go back to the Word of God. What were we created for?”
While these international missionary-sending organizations are growing, sending dozens of cross-cultural missionaries annually, they are still relatively young. Throughout the meeting, the 164-year-old IMB provided insight on evangelical strategy, missionary training, and equipping.
“This might be the greatest contribution the IMB can make to global evangelization – more than anything we’ve ever done,” Fort said.
IMB strategist Scott Holste shared research showing missions leaders the urgency of sending missionaries to countries without any evangelical presence.
“If you take all the missionaries in the world ... only three out of 100 are working with these least reached people groups of the world ... so we’ve got to partner together,” Holste said. “We’ve got to get the whole church involved.”
Fort added, “We have sensed that God is really stirring the church locally in this generation. And we have felt that perhaps the greatest contribution we can make to global evangelization is making it possible for those last peoples who have not heard.”
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