The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Tuesday, January 11, 2000

A Brief Historical Overview of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement and Joshua Project 2000

A Paper presented at the North East Asia AD2000/Joshua Project 2000 Consultation in Seoul, May 27-30, 1996

by Luis Bush, International Director


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.. 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. 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?
A River of Life

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.

At the "beginning" of time God placed Adam in an earthly paradise. It was in a garden called Eden, which means delight, that God placed the first man according to the record of the Scriptures. A river, watering the garden, flowed from Eden. That river was a symbol of God's abundant supply watering the trees and vegetation of the garden to provide food and shade for man's physical needs.

At the "end" of time, as recorded in the very last chapter of biblical revelation, we also find a river flowing. This is called the river of life. It is life-giving. The water is clear as crystal and flows from the very throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of this river stands a tree yielding fruit every month. "And the leaves of the tree are the healing of the nations. (Rev, 22:2b). That's the end of the story. In the Bible the river graphically pictures the "blessing" of God as in these first and last references in the Scripture. In Isaiah 44:3, the river refers to the "presence" of God: For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

It refers to the "peace" of God in Isaiah 66:12: I will extend peace like a river. In Psalm 36:8 it refers to the "provision" of God: They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.

In John 7:38 it pictures the "power" of God in the life of the believer: Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

In the Scripture, 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. 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.

For example, 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.

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:
  1. to impart a vision and a sense of responsibility for evangelism both locally and globally,
  2. to inform people of successful methods and tools,
  3. to facilitate evangelical cooperation in evangelism and
  4. to identify unevangelized areas.
Another significant stream in on our 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.
GCOWE '89 in Singapore

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.

The first GCOWE consultation was held in Singapore in January 1989 with more than 300 participants from 50 countries with the declared purpose of:
  1. Accelerating the growing interest, attention, momentum and prayer in the body of Christ with regards to world evangelization,
  2. Promoting mutual encouragement and exchange of information among denominations and agencies who are planning for world evangelization by AD 2000;
  3. Promoting cooperative efforts in world evangelization among those planning around the milestone of AD 2000 and focusing on the minimally reached.
Though the GCOWE '89 steering committee dissolved, this event flowed into the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement in a number of ways. For example, the Great Commission Manifesto produced in that meeting was unanimously approved with a specific focus--to provide every people and population on earth with a valid opportunity to hear the Gospel in a language they can understand, and to establish a mission -minded church planting movement within every unreached people group, so that the Gospel is accessible to all people. This became the the foundation for the development of our vision of a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000.

Lausanne II in Manila, July '89

Another significant stream flowing into our movement was Lausanne II in Manila in July 1989 with the call to "Proclaim Christ Until He Comes." 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."

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.

The First Five Years of the Decade

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.

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.

Several words summarized the common commitment of the people drawn in to the national and global initiatives related to the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement:
  1. "mobilization," referring to the awakening of the church in every country of the world to find their place in the task of national and world evangelization;
  2. "empowerment," which underscores the fact that the Lord has provided not only technological tools but mainly his own Spirit, to empower his people in the task of evangelization;
  3. "penetration," which suggests the targeting of spiritual ministry primarily on the unfinished task of planting the church where there is none and proclaiming the gospel to every person;
  4. "compassion," which reflects the concern for the whole person and the need to minister as servants;
  5. "collaboration," which expresses the need to network and to work together to share Christ's love;
  6. "intensification," underscores the urgency of the hour as we move to the milestone date, AD 2000;
  7. "fulfillment" which expresses the conviction that, yes, it is possible to bring the gospel to all people by the year 2000.
Was this goal merely fluff and pie in the sky or not? That question required a midcourse evaluation.
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. 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.

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.
  1. Because the Word of God says it. Jesus said: "I will build my church and Gates of Hell will not overcome it." (Mat. 16:18) "I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb." (Rev. 7:9) )"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." (Hab. 2:14)
  2. Because a great portion of the unfinished task has already been done. Current expectations state that by the year 2000, 99% of the population of the world- people from every culture and language and country-will have access to the gospel through a full or portion of Scripture in their own language, literature distribution, radio transmission, audio recordings, through the Jesus Film or through the preaching of an evangelist. By one means or another the world will be exposed to the gospel. In fact, it is not an "either, or" matter of accessibility to the gospel but "both, and." What remains is but a small portion. But the evidence continues far beyond merely the extent of what's already been accomplished.
  3. Because of the rapid acceleration of divine activity toward the fulfillment of this goal. There is a divine superintending of global events, such as the demise of communism and the failure of secular humanism to satisfy the needs of man that suggest that we are moving from an age of unbelief to an age of faith as we approach the year 2000. Secular futurists tell us this. The secular press tells us this. Through His people, God is accomplishing the task more quickly than ever before. Patrick Johnstone, Chairman of the Unreached Peoples Network, assesses both aspects of the goal of a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000 when he writes: "There is cause for much praise to God in progress over the past 200 years, and more especially in the past 30 and cautious hope for the initial attainment of our goals."
  4. Because of a global Great Awakening related to a prayer movement as we approach the year 2000, greatly surpassing anything in all of Christian history, evidenced by the growing momentum of mass prayer initiatives worldwide. Even though we do not all agree on how we should pray we do agree that indeed we should pray. From the many promises of God's Word in relation to answered prayer an accelerator of divine initiative is likely the growing prayer movement concentrating on world evangelization. We have watched in awe as God has moved through prayer initiatives such as the Day to Change the World held the 25th of June, 1994 with marches for Jesus in 170 countries and the October 1993 and October 1995 Praying Through the Window emphasis.
  5. Because the explosive growth of the Two Thirds World church in this century has positioned the church around the world for a major evangelistic thrust in the nineties. John Stott said it this way: it can be attained "not least because of the proliferation of indigenous missions in Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific rim of East Asia. These may under God take the Gospel to the ends of the earth."
  6. Because God has endowed the church with the spiritual manpower, material resources and technology to complete the task of world evangelization. The critical issue is the deployment of these resources amongst the least evangelized. The technology exists today to both empower communication for cooperation "within" the Body and to penetrate every geographic and political barrier. Satellite delivery of TV signals is now worldwide.
  7. Because of genuine partnerships and open cooperation that are happening as never before. It is now recognized that this is the best way to take advantage of the opportunities presented by this last decade of the millennium. Many church and mission leaders now believe that genuine collaborative partnerships are the only way to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the last five years of this millennium. We believe that this is what God intends!
The question became how we would work toward a final push in the next five years. 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.

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 1. National AD2000 Initiatives and 2. Joshua Project 2000-A priority global focus on the least evangelized peoples.

Both thrusts will be empowered by the AD2000 resource networks and task forces with the result that there may be a church for every people and the gospel for every person by December 31, 2000. Through these networks and task forces and as a result of the effort to plant of a church for every people we would aim at accomplishing the goal of the gospel for every person by the year 2000.

It was the conviction of participants at the "Launch," that through Joshua Project 2000 the almost 2000 least evangelized peoples of the world would have a church planting movement initiated by the year 2000. The initial goal of Joshua Project 2000 is to establish , as a minimum, a pioneer church-planting movement resulting in 100 or more believing Christians in one or more reproducing churches within every ethno-linguistic people of over 10,000 individual. Our hope is that through the AD2000 national initiatives, both the Joshua Project 2000 peoples and the unreached peoples less than 10,000 in number would have a church by the year 2000. Joshua Project 2000, a five-year plan proposed by AD2000 and Beyond leaders, seeks to involve the participating AD2000 and Beyond networks, found in 160 nations, to work together to establish churches among these peoples. Under the plan, churches and agencies will send research and prayer teams to each of the listed groups to lay preliminary groundwork for evangelism and church-planting.

A Conclusion

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.

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.

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.

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.


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