Twenty seven years ago today I took a walk around Lake Monona, along with about 30 other people including John Kyle, who was then Missions Director of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. It was called The Walk for Hidden Peoples. The goal was to develop momentum around the idea of reaching all of the peoples of the world with the gospel message by the year 2,000 and fulfilling The Great Commission.
There were other similar events around the country, including a walk around the Rose Bowl with 500 participants. Pastors Jack Hayford and Paul Cedar welcomed the Run Across America team which had just completed a 3500-mile journey across the U.S. with the same goal in mind.
Back then, placing a time limit on fulfilling the Great Commission was an idea that was just starting to gain popularity. Now, looking back from the other side of A.D. 2000, it’s plain the Great Commission has still not been fulfilled. But it’s not for lack of effort. Thousands of organizations in the U.S. and abroad are deployed with a great variety of tools, sharing the gospel message in many different ways.
Yesterday I heard a woman–from a Central Asian country that cannot be named in order to protect her safety–talk about how she shares the gospel message with students at a university. A lot of time is spent having tea with the parents of the students to get their assent for their children to be involved in her activities. That’s not exactly how student ministry is done in the U.S. but the goal is the same, lives transformed by the work of the Holy Spirt.
Where do you go to find out how far along we are in fulfilling the Great Commission? The best place to find the global perspective on how God is at work in the world is InterVarsity’s Urbana Student Missions Conference. The next one is coming up this December 27-31 in St. Louis. Students–and older people as well–who want what they do to matter on a broader scale, will be at Urbana. As a friend of mine says, “It’s like making a down payment on a life of significance.”