Besides Virgil Olson and John Marrs and the Eshenaurs from our own Conference, we will be honored to interact during missions week with Ralph Winter, the director of the U.S. Center for World Mission and an outstanding mission strategist. Let me introduce him to you.
Born in California, Dr. Ralph D. Winter grew up in Christian Endeavor, Youth for Christ, and the Navigators (in the Navy in WWII). He graduated from Caltech with a B.S. in Engineering, then taught one year at Westmont College. His interest and concern for the world grew, and after attending the first “Urbana” (at Toronto) he helped organize a pioneer non-professional missionary effort to Afghanistan.
He continued in graduate work, earning a M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language at Columbia University, a Ph. D. at Cornell in Structural Linguistics with minors in Cultural Anthropology and Mathematical Statistics, and later a B.D. at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Between 1956 and 1966 he worked as a missionary under the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions to the Mayan Indians of Guatemala. There he served as Executive Secretary of the Latin American Association of Theological Schools, Northern Region, organized a nation-wide adult education program, helped start a university, a rural economic development program involving a number of small businesses, and helped to found the theological-education-by-extension movement which has now spread throughout the world.
In 1967 he was invited to join Dr. Donald McGavran and Dr. Alan Tippett in the second year of the new Fuller School of World Mission. While at Fuller, he served as a full professor of the Historical Development of the Christian Movement and helped found the American Society of Missiology—the first scholarly society in the U.S. devoted to the study of Missions—of which he was the founding Secretary-Treasurer and later President. His publications include Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, the textbook we use on our Monday nights.
When he was asked to give a plenary address at the Lausanne International Congress on World Evangelization, he highlighted for himself and others the astonishing fact that at that time 2.4 billion people (over 84% of the remaining non-Christians in the world) were being essentially by-passed by Christian outreach. Not only were these people not being reached, but there were no active plans for reaching them.
Struck by these “accusing statistics,” he took a leave of absence from Fuller on November 1, 1976, in order to found the U.S. Center for World Mission. Within a year, when the leave of absence expired, things looked hopeful enough to continue. The USCWM is a cooperative Center where personnel from 42 mission agencies are now at work. The purpose of the new institution is to help existing agencies to focus strategy and mobilization efforts on the needs of the “Hidden Peoples”—those populations within which there is not yet any indigenous church at all.
Plan to hear Dr. Winter Friday, November 9, 6:30 p.m. at the International Meal ($3.00), Saturday at “Missions at the Manse” and Sunday morning and evening. Pray that God use this week to make BBC a strategic base of missions operations for “the dawning of the final era.”