The cover photos illustrate just how international mission has become. The first photo shows OMF members at the Central Thailand Field Conference in 1958. Contrast this with the second photo taken at a recent OMF Field Conference held in Thailand and it becomes clear how global OMF has become. Five continents and more than seventeen countries were represented. Also noticeable is an increasing number of ethnic Asians joining from non-Asian countries.
The New Missionary Force:
Mission from the Majority World
For more than ten years mission leaders have reminded us that the gospel message is not the responsibility of one part of the world that must take it to the rest, but a task for the whole church. Mission is from anywhere to everywhere. This past October, around 300 mission and church leaders from 80 countries discussed this reality under the title of “Polycentric Mission” while attending the WEA Mission Commission Global Consultation in Panama. Interaction with a world-wide body of Christians demonstrated that mission springs from multiple centers and highlighted the shift in mission from the north and west to the south and east. This is not so much a passing of the baton from one part of the world to another but of becoming co-laborers in the gospel who shoulder the load together.
The value the WEA Mission Commission places upon the worldwide church is seen in the composition of the leadership team which includes nine people from five continents. This value was highlighted at the conference when David Ruiz was formally appointed to serve as the Executive Director of the WEA MC. Rev. Ruiz is originally from Guatemala and has served as the General Director and International President of COMIBAM (Cooperación Misionera Iberoamericana) in addition to being part of the WEA MC leadership team.
The WEA is not the only organization that unites Christians from different parts of the globe for world evangelism and discipleship. As the cover photos show, during the past fifty to sixty years OMF has seen its membership grow from being primarily Western to the point where it includes people from many ethnic groups and countries of origin.
This issue takes up some papers from OMF’s April 2016 Mission Research Consultation on “The Future of Mission” to examine several aspects of how the Majority World has impacted mission.