Letter to Harold: Extraordinary Things Have Happened!By Samuel Chiang
(Editor’s note: This “letter” is dated ten years from now. It is from Samuel Chiang to his friend, Harold Smith, president/CEO of Christianity Today International. Chiang details the wonderful things God has done since 1 December 2010.)
1 December 2020
I cannot believe ten years has passed since the last Lausanne Congress in Cape Town. That was a wonderful event! Despite unprecedented economic challenges, as I look back over the past ten years, I see many extraordinary happenings in the Church around the world and in missions. It has truly been a remarkable ten years. Seldom has so much happened in such a short span of time in the history of missions. Let me take a few moments to share eight things that are especially exciting to me.
First, the Church in the Philippines has taken on the global role to speak into the reality of human trafficking. The Philippines has long been known for sending their compatriots across Asia and the Middle East. Over the last ten years, they have stood up to respond to the issue of human trafficking as well. With their wide network of mission colleagues dispersed from Tokyo to Tunis, they have banded together not only to identify the issue, but also to stem the tide of human trafficking. By speaking into the issue and demonstratively implementing action plans, the world has come to appreciate the Church in the Philippines.
Second, we are very close to reaching the last unengaged Unreached People Groups. Hasn’t it been amazing to watch how God has orchestrated this movement? Table 71, which was formed from Amsterdam 2000, along with many tables from Cape Town 2010 and other networks, have been working to engage the 2,252 unengaged unreached people groups at the start of the last decade.
There are now only forty-one people groups left that do not have a single verse of Scripture in their own heart language. This vision for ZERO people groups left to be engaged has spurred on a collaborative effort among ministries and the donor world. Their common view that all people groups should at least have the stories from the Bible in oral form—and possibly leading to printed scripture—spun off new partnerships and collaborative networks at a breathtaking pace. We are able to celebrate today because of extraordinary collaboration and partnerships among mission agencies and donors across the world.
Third, two important reset buttons were pushed in this past decade. Theological education and creation care have made sharp course changes in this past decade, which left many of us astounded and spurred us on to re-examine the future. Wasn’t it a surprise to see highly-ensconced theological institutions join the movement of non-accredited Bible institutions so that they may properly assist the Church in the role of leadership development, discipleship, and apprenticeship? And with many cities moving towards a model for electric cars similar to that of the mobile phone utility model, Christian creation care enthusiasts finally decided to press the reset button and focus on tangible ways to integrate micro reality with reflective theology.
Fourth, the Business as Mission (BAM) movement has undergirded several missionary movements globally. The Church in China finally woke up to the fact that their Back-to-Jerusalem movement fervor needed proper and real mechanisms to work in the continually difficult areas of Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Missiologists have been saying for years that there needs to be “stopping” or “resting” points for the movement. In this last decade, due to global currency wars, trade wars, migration patterns, etc., the BAM movement has taken off as the platform of choice, with new funding mechanisms that have built-in sustainability.
Rev. Samuel Chiang was born in Taiwan, grew up and worked in Canada (Ernst & Young), and graduated from Dallas Seminary, where he also served on staff. He served with the Church in China and has written extensively on China, Asia, and orality. Formerly the COO for TWR, currently he serves as the executive director of the International Orality Network.