The vision God gave WEC’s founder CT Studd was not just for Africa, but for the whole world. What would he have imagined the future of WEC to be, I wonder? Probably nothing like it actually is. The world mission scene has changed dramatically in the 100 years since WEC began. Receiving countries now send workers; the Gospel has penetrated into new areas and people groups; new ministries have begun and new technology has meant innovative methods of reaching people. In response to the leading of the Holy Spirit, WEC has changed and developed too. Here are some examples.
No longer all Western
From everywhere to everywhere has become a catch cry in mission circles. It reflects the reality that missionaries today don’t just come from traditional sending regions like North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Increasingly they are sent from almost any country where there is a Christian presence. This is reflected in WEC where over 50 nationalities are represented. If you join WEC your team mates are just as likely to be Korean, Chinese, Brazilian or Mexican as American, Australian or European. In 2010 there were 806 workers from Europe, 503 from Asia, 390 from North American, 309 from the Pacific region (including Australia and New Zealand), 181 from Latin America, 47 from Africa and 8 from the Middle East. What a wonderful multi-cultural mix.
From planters to partners
Reaching the unreached and planting churches remains a core value of WEC and the heartbeat of what we do. However, in places like DR Congo, Ghana, Brazil, Mexico and Fiji, the national churches WEC has planted are mature. WEC now works alongside them as partners, encouraging and training them to mobilise for missions and send out their own workers.
There are encouraging signs this is happening. In Ivory Coast, the AEECI the church planted by WEC, has sent out four families – one to another Africa country and three to unreached people groups in Ivory Coast.
A worker reports, “In The Gambia, membership of the WEC related church is under 1,000. But there are four missionaries ready to be sent through WEC.”
A new focus of the work in Fiji is to give a missions vision to the churches and to see Fijians moving out as cross- cultural missionaries. Several Fijians have now joined WEC.
To read more about what is happening take a look here.
The needs of the world are huge and in response, the Lord has opened doors for WEC to start specialised ministries to meet the needs of the marginalised and rejected. Betel reaches out to those with drug and alcohol addictions. This ministry has seen huge growth since it began in Spain in 1983 and there is now work in 70 urban areas in over 20 nations on five continents. It is unique in that it has not only seen thousands freed from addiction and their lives transformed by Christ, but also hundreds of churches planted.
Rainbows of Hope works with WEC teams to help children, youth and their families who are at risk or in crisis. The aim is to minister to children and youth holistically (physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually) in the context of their families and community, and with local believers and churches.
New methods of Outreach
In the last decade the number of people who own a mobile phone has sky rocketed. There are now about 6 billion mobile subscriptions in the world. Many people with mobiles are unreached and live in countries where access to the gospel through traditional methods is not possible. Advances in technology make it easy to share Christian resources such as digital Bibles and the Jesus film on mobile phones and workers are starting to take advantage of these opportunities. The Mobile Advance website (http://mobileadvance.org) is a WEC initiative to help resource workers who wish to use mobile phones in their church planting ministry. Their mission and vision is “connecting the unreached with the good news and church of Jesus Christ through the device that connects them with the world- the mobile phone”. The potential is huge.
WEC today might not be as CT Studd imagined it, but I think he would be pleased to know that 100 years on WEC is still fulfilling the vision God gave him.