By Michael Ireland
ASSIST NEWS SERVICE
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO (ANS) -- After 12 years, several worldwide consultations, and a successful strategy in collaborating missions efforts around the globe, the International Office of AD2000 & Beyond Movement in Colorado Springs, Colorado, officially closed on March 31.
In an e-mail letter, circulated to supporters and interested individuals, a spokesman for the movement said: "In keeping with our 1989 by-laws and clear commitment, the AD2000 International Office in Colorado Springs will close on March 31, 2001. Thus, the AD2000 & Beyond Movement will formally close on that day, although we pray the vision of a church for every people and the gospel for every person will love on in the hearts, minds and spirits of countless churches, ministries and God's people around the world even growing until He comes!"
In a prepared statement, Rev. Dr. Thomas Wang, Chairman of the AD2000 International Board, said: "God has put you and I into this crucial hour before the return of His Son Jesus Christ with a definite purpose the fulfillment of His Great Commission.
"Under God's loving mercy the AD2000 Movement was conceived and born during the preparation of the second Lausanne Congress in 1989. In a short span of one single decade the Movement has received acceptance and cooperation from Christ's global body and has been operating in over 100 countries of the world. Through its initiation, names like 10/40 Window, Joshua Project, Gateway Cities have become household terms among churches and mission agencies today. The AD2000 Movement has been ministering as a bugle-call to today's churches to take the Great Commission seriously and to fulfill the long-delayed task," wrote Dr. Wang.
Dr. Wang stated that, "God in history has raised up various movements as His instrument for various purposes. When the purpose is fulfilled the instrument must have the wisdom and the courage to die. And so is the AD2000 Movement. During its very first International Board meeting, the decision was made that the Movement as an organization will be dissolved at the end of the year 2000. But the spirit, vision and commitment of the Movement will hopefully continue to live, grow and be accomplished through churches and mission agencies worldwide."
He added: "With the consent of both the International and US Boards, it was decided that a simple ceremony will be held on April 20, 2001 in Los Angeles, where the first formative meeting of the Movement was held back in 1989, to mark the formal closure of the organization of the AD2000 Movement. May God continue to bless the final round on world evangelization through His own way and in His own time."
Rev. Dr. Luis Bush, the International Director of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement, said: "I rejoice with my two dear brothers to be part of this final and farewell message of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement. Much has been said and reported upon over the brief tenure of this Movement, with great praises and thanks to God for His manifold blessings both seen and unseen!"
Dr. Bush wrote that he was thankful for the early acceptance and rapidly growing fellowship of leaders towards a church for every people and the gospel for every person vision to the year 2000, both for geographic and functional purposes. "This matrix was well blessed in many places around the world," he said.
He gave thanks for each of the Praying Through the Window initiatives I through IV, with prayer participation moving from 21 to 40+ million people around the globe, plus many onsite prayer journey teams as well. "The measured impact of this prayer is testimony of God's power through man's faithful prayer!" he said.
Dr. Bush also gave thanks "for the catalytic outflows of Global Consultation On World Evangelization (GCOWE) 95 / Korea and GCOWE 97 / South Africa consultations, the fires still burning and advancing the flame edge among the unreached day by day."
Rev. Dr. John Kyle, Chairman of the AD2000 US Support Committee & Board, said that although the AD2000 & Beyond Movement has been brought to closure officially, "the spirit of the Movement will live on as people across the globe continue to cooperate and work toward mutual goals.
"We have learned over these past years that we can accomplish a great deal more by working together rather than independently. The Movement has effectively handed-off the concept of partnerships around strategic tasks by way of the Networks and Task Force concepts," he said..
He noted, for instance, that HiServices has proceeded from the Joshua Project 2000 to the Joshua Project II that will include even more unreached people groups than ever before. "This is moving strategically according to the Movement's credo, A Church for Every People and The Gospel for Every Person," he said.
He added: "Also, our former sister organizations continue to expand their global vision as the Lausanne Movement and World Evangelical Fellowship forge ahead in seeking to provide ways to reach our world for Christ. It is heartening that the Great Commission Roundtable is also standing by to assist evangelicals in the task of world evangelization."
Dr. Kyle was personally pleased that the leadership of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement "has been true to its original by-laws that stressed closure of the organization at the close of over a decade of intense ministry.
"Extremely significant gains were made in reaching the lost for Christ around the world during the last decade of the Twentieth Century," he said. "I believe that Christian history will verify that the AD2000 & Beyond Movement was guided by the Holy Spirit in seeking to carry out Christ's Great Commission worldwide to the Glory of God. May God bless each of you who participated in the Movement. It has been an immense privilege to labor alongside of you these past years."
A BRIEF HISTORICAL VIEW
In a paper presented at the North East Asia AD2000/Joshua Project 2000 Consultation in Seoul, May 27-30, 1996 by Luis Bush, International Director, said that in January 1989 participants at GCOWE '89 in Singapore learned that there were over 2,000 separate plans relating to world evangelization at the time.
"More evangelization plans focused on the year 2000 were being announced almost every week," said Dr. Bush. "This perception of AD 2000 as a magnetic target has grown over the past twenty years, but only in recent years has it become a primary focus of many in the church. One-third of these programs are from the Two Thirds world -- this is truly a global evangelization movement," he said.
Dr. Bush said that although most of these plans were born independently of each other, there was a felt need among the leaders involved for greater mutual awareness of their efforts to mobilize the worldwide body of Christ for world evangelization by AD 2000. "This cooperation has happened! How did it begin?" he asked.
A RIVER OF LIFE
Dr. Bush said that at GCOWE I in Singapore in January 1989, during the last plenary session on the subject of the Fulfillment of the vision, the emerging AD2000 & Beyond Movement was seen "as a series of life-giving streams flowing into a fast flowing river -- which beautifully pictures the movement that has carried us to this North East Asia AD2000/Joshua Project 2000 Consultation in Seoul."
"In the Scripture," said Dr. Bush, "rivers also frame the 'plan' of God by depicting geographical boundaries as in the promise to Abraham regarding the land of Israel: To your descendants I give this land, from the River of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates (Gen. 15:17).
"Summarizing from the Biblical revelation, the river normally represents the people of God. It is, in fact, a vivid picture of the people of God in motion: being fruitful, acknowledging the presence of God, experiencing the peace of God, receiving the provision of God, knowing the power of God to fulfill the plan of God," he said.
"God's people in motion, as a source of spiritual life in a parched, dry world. 'See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.' (Isaiah 43:19) This, in my view, is the biblical picture of what today is the AD2000 & Beyond Movement," said Dr. Bush.
For example, he said, "you can trace the stream of life-giving water of regional movements from the two-thirds world such as the CCCOWE -- a world evangelization movement among the Chinese churches worldwide, as well as COMIBAM, a world evangelization movement springing up from Latin America.
"In fact, it was in May 1987 that Dr. Thomas Wang, having been called from CCCOWE to become the International Director of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, wrote an article titled 'By the year 2000, is God trying to tell us Something?' that led to GCOWE I and launched the AD2000 & Beyond Movement," said Dr. Bush.
"The picture of a river reminds us that many have gone before us. We flow in the tradition of Berlin, 1966 and wholeheartedly share this day its aim of the proclamation of the gospel throughout the world with the very same time target. The Berlin '66 call was to proclaim the gospel within a generation; as a generation is 40 years or so, they were calling for the proclamation of the gospel by the year 2000 or just beyond. We flow in the spirit of the Lausanne I gathering in 1974 with nearly 2500 participants from 150 countries, and share wholeheartedly its goals."
Another significant stream in the movement was the Edinburgh '80 global gathering of mission executives in 1980 with the theme of a church for every people by the year 2000, he said.
GCOWE '89 IN SINGAPORE
Dr. Bush said that through a survey done in preparation for GCOWE '89, it became clear that the greatest obstacle to world evangelization by the year 2000 is lack of vision. "Thus, according to this survey, the greatest single factor contributing to the fulfillment of the Great Commission is the development and sharing of vision. Any emerging movement was being called to share the vision and communicate what the Holy Spirit is doing through the body of Christ throughout the world," he said.
The first GCOWE consultation was held in Singapore in January 1989 with more than 300 participants from 50 countries.
LAUSANNE IN MANILA, JULY '89
Another significant stream flowing into the movement was Lausanne II in Manila in July 1989 with the call to "Proclaim Christ Until He Comes," said Dr. Bush.
"An important question was written in the Manila Manifesto endorsed by all participants: 'Now the year 2000 has become for many a challenging milestone. Can we commit ourselves to evangelize the world during the last decade of this millennium? There is nothing magical about the date, yet should we not do our best to reach this goal? Christ commands us to take the gospel to all people. The task is urgent. We are determined to obey Him with joy and hope,' " he said.
Dr. Bush said it was at that meeting following the plenary session on AD 2000 that a significant group of people met together and almost unanimously called for the establishment of a group to carry forward the AD 2000 vision. "This has been done, pressed forward by countrywide initiatives to the year 2000. And so the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement was born with a sense of destiny to take up the torch for a specific focus for this unique God-filled decade."
Dr. Bush said: "The first five years of the decade were years of seeding the clouds with the vision of a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000...in the hope that the rain of God's blessing would come upon all flesh."
This involved the building of a new kind of partnering relationship, a "grassroots networking structure," a "grassroots movement, a network of networks, a fusion of visions" in which "we are all controlled from the bottom up rather than from the top down" with a "...focus on catalyzing, mobilizing, multiplying resources, through networks." The stated purpose was to "encourage cooperation among existing churches, movements, and entities to work together toward the vision of a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000, said Dr. Bush.
Ten global functional networks and several task forces emerged that served as the building blocks upon which the movement flourished, with common a common focus on mobilizing global prayer for the 10/40 Window and empowering national AD2000 initiatives worldwide.
GCOWE '95: A MID-DECADAL ASSESSMENT
Momentum increased as a result of GCOWE '95 that brought together some 4000 Christian leaders from 186 countries of the world, said Bush. Since each delegate was expected to raise their own travel costs, the vision was grass rooted. More than 70% of the funding came from Africa, Asia and Latin America. With this conference, the two-thirds world demonstrated its full partnership, if not primary initiative, in the cause of world evangelization.
"In their role as host the Korean church has become mainstream. Not only did the Korean church take up the largest share of any country on earth, but they were the first to financially support and commit to the primary global thrust flowing out of GCOWE '95-Joshua Project 2000. In fact, this North East Asia Joshua Project 2000 consultation is the first major gathering of many country and regional consultations being held around the world of this nature," Bush said.
"We came together around a vision created in us by the command of Christ, to 'make disciples of all nations' (Matthew 28:19) and to 'preach the Gospel to every creature' (Mark 16:15). Our concern is for the whole church to take the whole Gospel to the whole world. Our primary but not exclusive focus is on the '10/40 Window' (the area of ten to forty degrees North of the equator from West Africa to East Asia) where most of the unreached people groups are located. There also we find the greatest degrees of poverty, illiteracy, disease and suffering. Seven reasons were given why we should work toward the goal of a church for every people and the gospel for every person, with faith that we could see it occur by December 31, 2000," said Bush.
"The question became how we would work toward a final push in the next five years," he said. "In consultation with the AD2000 & Beyond Movement network and task force leaders, a document was prepared for national and regional leaders from 186 countries of the world called Possible Outcomes of GCOWE 95 to Fulfill the Unfinished Task by December 31, 2000.
"In a number of sessions the document was reviewed. Follow-up resulted in a proposal to AD2000 leaders to consider building their next five years of work on two specific efforts, the AD2000 National Initiatives and Joshua Project 2000, empowered through the networks, task forces and ministries related to the Movement," said Bush.
With the Launch of Joshua Project 2000 and the Last Five Years of the Decade, Christian leaders from 77 countries met in a seven day conference held November 28 - December 2, 1995 in Colorado Springs to launch a five-year final thrust of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement with the backbone of National AD2000 Initiatives and Joshua Project 2000 -- a priority global focus on the least evangelized peoples.
"We believe that all in the AD2000 & Beyond Movement are servant-catalysts, seeking 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," said Bush.
"This is being done by means of the primary efforts of the movement engaging in the development of National AD2000 Initiatives and with a priority global focus on the remaining approximately 1800 least evangelized peoples with more than 10,000 individuals each, through Joshua Project 2000," he said.
He added: "We believe that God will continue to perform miracles to open the hearts of the lost; if the Body of Christ will rise to the challenge, the expected result is the establishment of a mission-minded church planting movement within every ethnolinguistic people by AD 2000, 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."
Dr. Bush concluded: "We see the turn of the millennium as a unique occasion to reemphasize the urgency of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The year 2000 can serve as a milestone to mark the advance of the Gospel, both as a focal point for intensified evangelistic work and a transition to a new century of missionary outreach."
Assist News Service. Used with Permission.