Mission, Vision, Ethos

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Only in heaven will be known the effect that prayer has had in speeding the work of world evangelization. We may discover that it was the most powerful force exerted by the church in making a difference in this world.
Ajith Fernando, National Director, Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka

A number of fundamental assumptions have been made in compiling this book. We realize that we will never satisfy all readers, but we trust that we have been sensitive to other theological and political points of view beyond our own. The people directly involved in the composition of this volume represent over 10 nationalities, 3 generations and 20 denominations. Even this is only a tiny proportion of the vast diversity in the body of Christ. Our own perspectives inevitably influence the selection of material and opinions expressed, and for these we must accept responsibility. All views here expressed are our own and not necessarily those of the publishers or of any organization mentioned in this book. We cherish constructive advice for future revisions and always endeavour to engage in fruitful dialogue with our critics. A number of these have eventually become some of our more helpful correspondents! We made the following decisions:

Readership

We are writing for Bible-believing Christians who want to obey the last great command of the Lord Jesus by evangelizing the world and completing the Great Commission. This means primarily – but not exclusively – evangelical Christians (which broadly means Protestant, Independent and Anglican Christians), though we realize there are many outside these categories who use Operation World. We trust that we have been sensitive enough to enable this book to be used more widely, yet without compromising our own theological position.

Theology

As evangelical believers, we attempt to take a central position in more controversial issues that perplex evangelicals, such as church government, baptism, the sovereignty of God, the work of the Holy Spirit and social involvement. The perceptive reader will, no doubt, see an unintended bias that reflects the author’s own views. In a broader sense, Operation World closely associates its outlook with that of the Lausanne Covenant, not just in theology but also in framing our understanding of the nature and scope of the Great Commission.

Politics

We, the Operation World team, are predominantly white Westerners (although decreasingly so!) and, as such, cannot divorce ourselves completely from the societies and cultures from which we have emerged. We have, however, sought as far as possible to write about each country by balancing the local perspective with the broader, global perspective. This means we have, at times, spoken to the endemic wrongs of a specific nation or Church. Our desire is that this book be of global value. What might have seemed to us prophetic forthtelling regarding a nation’s ills might come across as insensitive judgementalism. Our aim here was for balance, but we have no doubt fallen short in a number of instances.

Time Validity

With the accelerating rate of change in the world, the idea of “up-to-theminute” statistics is a specious myth! Any statistic seen in print or on the web is almost certainly “out of date” before you even read it. Nevertheless, the purpose of Operation World is to trace the work of God through the years and decades. The prayer points are framed in such a way as to not be invalidated, for example, by an election, a natural disaster or any other temporal change in a nation; they are long-term issues that usually take decades of sustained intercession to see significant changes. That said, there is nothing we would like more than to see the entire book invalidated by God miraculously answering every prayer in this volume.

An Emphasis on the Church

Early editions were rightly criticized for overemphasizing mission agencies and the contribution of missionaries. We sought to rectify this, but it is important to realize that these agencies are often the best communicators of prayer information, hence the system of highlighting the initials of mission agencies whose addresses are given in Appendix 3. In these later editions, we centre our information on the body of Christ in each country. Thankfully, our list of thousands of correspondents and contacts is composed of an increasingly equal and effective balance between national Christian leaders and expatriate Christian workers.

The Selection of Agencies Mentioned

is not intended to be a mark of validation or rejection. We have drawn attention to some having international and interdenominational interest to a wide spectrum of English-speaking readers. The electronic version holds a much greater wealth of agency information. A number of influential agencies – especially in certain countries – asked not to be mentioned by name; we have respected this on every such occasion. For others, our efforts to establish mutually-helpful exchanges met with bounced e-mails or even silence.

To Finance and Resource

this massive project is itself an act of faith. Many people envision some multimillion-dollar sprawling campus with underground bunkers of supercomputers, hyper-qualified, high-flying technical experts and an army of data-entry drones! In truth, as with most research projects and many strategic Great Commission endeavours, we operate with old, often outdated gear in whatever donated or subsidized office space we are allocated. Every person working on the Operation World team is a volunteer or a missionary – sent and supported to this strategic work as his or her field of service. Each of us must trust and call out to God to provide for our financial needs. Very few of us trained specifically for mission research.

All royalties from Operation World books and other resources sold go into a trust fund used to cover the ministry and production costs of future editions. This is one of several reasons the entirety of Operation World is not made available for free on the Internet.

The Burden for Prayer

Our longing is for this book to be seen as a tool for prayer. The spiritual tone and vision that express the heart and priorities of our heavenly Father is in the forefront. All other issues must be secondary. Borrowing liberally from the 2001 edition of Operation World, the ethos of prayer is best reflected in the following paragraphs: The book in your hands weighs less than one kilogram, yet if all the desires, requests and goals expressed in it were to be implemented it would radically change the nations of this world. Wars would be ended, ethnic hatreds tamed, politicians become honest, economic justice achieved, poverty eliminated, ecological degradation ended and disease halted. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ would be provided with godly leaders, it would be renewed, revived, united in vision, mobilized for mission and readied for the return of its Head. Jesus would return with the world evangelized and the Church complete! That is the wish. How much of the earthly and how quickly the eternal agendas would be achieved depends heavily on one activity – prayer in the name of Jesus to a loving, sovereign Father.

It is a mystery that our loving Father has somehow limited His omnipotence to partner with His redeemed people so that His actions in the world are inextricably linked with our prayers.

The nations are there for the asking. God is calling you and me into the ministry of intercession for them. We have plenty of opposition in the heavenlies and from human powers and persecutors. The enemy will seek to frighten us with these and dangle allurements to distract us from the vision of a heavenly, eternal Kingdom filled with people from every race, tribe, people and tongue. Yet Jesus offers us a share in His reign. At times, we may look up to Him in agony, but we must see our true position – looking down with Him, exercising the authority bequeathed by Him in the Great Commission He has given to every Christian. May we become intercessors with a world vision that prays Satan-defeating, Kingdom-taking, people-reaching, captive-releasing, revival-giving, Christ-glorifying prayers.