ASIA MISSIONS ASSOCIATION :
THROUGHOUT 11 TRIENNIALS A Run Through of What Happened in the Past 11 AMA Conventions Damples Dulcero-Baclagon
The Asia Missions Association, a unique event and organization in the history of Christianity and mission in Asia, the first of its kind, started by Asians in 1973, nurtured and shared by mission leaders and missionaries from Asia and all other continents until today. It’s been 43 years and it continues to accomplish what it started for, from the Seoul Declaration, to commitments, affirmations, re-affirmations and more declarations, AMA continues to aspire to make world missions a movement truly strategically effective and culturally acceptable. Sometimes AMA was slow, sometimes fast, but the real thing is it never stopped to hope for the betterment of Christian missions in Asia and the whole world.
To remember the Asia Missions Association and its experiences, accomplishments, and hopes in the past, here is a recollection of what AMA was throughout 11 triennials:
The year 1973 marked the beginning of the idea on “NEW FORCES OF MISSIONS”, emerging from Asia. The All Asia Mission Consultation held in Seoul, Korea from Aug. 27-30,1973, had called for “the formation of an Asia-wide organization of missions to provide necessary coordination for sending, receiving and placing Asian missionaries in the mission fields.” Included also in the 1973 Statement are the words “We are compelled by the Holy Spirit to declare that we shall work towards the placing of at least two hundred new Asian missionaries by the end of 1974.” And it was also resolved that a Continuation Committee consisting of seven persons, Dr. David J. Cho, Dr. Simeon Kang, Dr. Philip Teng, Dr. Petros Octavianus, Rev. A Furuyama, Rev. Theodore Williams, and Dr. Chandu Ray, were appointed to carry the following functions:
- To encourage and assist in the formation of National Associations in every country in Asia, consisting of group of spiritually minded, mature Christians, who will act as advisors to the Christian churches, missions and agencies for receiving, placing, sending and commissioning Asian missionaries.
- To work in close cooperation with the Coordinating Office for Asian Evangelization for providing liaison and necessary information for these autonomous National Associations.
- To work for the establishment of a Center for Asia in cooperation with Korea International Mission for missionary orientation and research in Seoul, if possible.
- To examine carefully, through research and cooperation with the National Association and COFAE, the relationship between East and West missionary enterprises.
This was how the plan for AMA began!
In the 2010 Jakarta AMA Convention, it was reported that the 200 missionaries pledged in 1973 was already achieved in 1974. More than the expectations of mission leaders, there are currently 20,000 Korean missionaries alone serving in 169 countries. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/korean-world-mission-conference-celebrates-milestone-of-20000-korean-missionaries-worldwide-79015/) From 1974, Asian countries began to see that they were not mission fields alone. They realized that they also are a force in missions, a sending body and a rich resource to help finish the Great Commission!
THE 1975 INAUGURAL CONVENTION
The All Asia Missions Consultation in 1973, through its call to form an Asia-wide missions organization paved the way for the formation of the Asia Missions Association. The inaugural convention of the AMA was held on Aug. 28 – Sept. 1, 1975. With delegates and participants coming from 16 different nations, they discussed and exchanged ideas for world missions. And from this inaugural convention, the Seoul Declaration 1975 was proclaimed. One point worth noting from it is this statement:“There are significant potential mission forces emerging from various countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We realize the urgency to mobilize and train these forces.”This is the purpose that has called into being the Asia Missions Association, and as a means to achieve the training goal; AMA actualized the foundation of the East-West Center for Missions Research and Development. Located in Seoul and later transferred to its training center, the Pauline House which was in Kyonggi province, Korea. EWCMRD adopted to its program, the existing Summer Institute of World Missions Training program held every summer to train missionaries before sending them to mission fields. A training curriculum for missionaries was also created to provide an integrative language, cultural, physical and financial preparations for Asian missionaries. Several people who have enrolled In SIWM and the EWC missions program are now functioning as influential church and mission leaders in their countries and even the world.
THE 2nd AMA CONVENTION
Due to the enormous tasks and challenges needed to accomplish, after the Inaugural convention, the 2nd Triennial Convention was shortened into 1 day and became a consultation to the AMA members and officers as well as delegates from other countries. It was held in Singapore on November 6, 1978, in conjunction with ALCO. Its theme was “Strengthen and Lengthen” The short convention did not create a statement but rather agreed to continue accomplishing the 1975 AMA declaration. One good thing that happened later was, one of its participants, Dr. Panya Baba of Nigeria, was encouraged and inspired to initiate the formation of Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association. NEMA now has a strong influence and leadership in Nigeria and African missions.
THE 3rd AMA CONVENTION
The AMA Third Triennial Convention took place on Aug. 16-22, 1982, in Seoul, Republic of Korea, under the theme “ Go through, go through the gates, clear the way for the people; Build up, build up the highway; Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples,” from Isa.62:10. The theme was chosen to influence the building and continuation of the ideals articulated in the 1975 Seoul Declaration on Christian Mission. In the 3rd AMA convention the following seven tasks have been the focal points of what AMA will do for the next 3 years and beyond:
- The urgency of strengthening Asian mission forces and increasing cooperation among them.
- The consequent need for an organization facilitating interchange between non-Western missions all over the world.
- The need for appropriate de-Westernization in missions in order to allow for a Christian fulfillment of Asian self-hood.
- The need for the establishment of new relationships of cooperation between traditional Western missions and newly emerging non-Western missions.
- The need for more research to effectively counter negative religious policies in post-war, independent, nationalistic, and socialistic countries.
- The need to counter the dangers of the two extremes of quasi-secular global ecumenism and pseudo-spiritual, cultic authoritarianism.
- The urgent need for innovations in mission structure to contend with the future situation.
From the challenges and inspiration brought by AMA 3rd Triennial Convention came the founding of new missions associations and affiliations of old missions associations to AMA from India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines Singapore, Taiwan, Mexico, Brazil and other countries. The affiliations of other organizations with AMA have also expanded to other countries of South America and Africa.
THE 4th AMA TRIENNIAL CONVENTION
From October 6-12, 1986, the 4th Triennial Convention of the Asia Missions Association was held in Pasadena, CA, USA under the theme “The Facts Of Mission Today
And The Path For Mission Tomorrow.” This convention opened the opportunity to re-evaluate the progress of AMA in the spiritual warfare, in terms of numbers and effectivity of strategies. This convention did not focus on Asia alone, it also included the missions in other continents like Africa, Europe and the Americas.
The AMA 4th Convention delegates and participants passed the Third World Declaration on World Mission and World Peace, 1986, and resolved 4 resolutions:
to form a Peace Council of World Christians in the name of participating World Christian leaders from six continents of the world;
to establish a Mutual Fund for the Third World Missions Advance and to elect a commission with full responsibility to establish the Mutual Fund for Missions Advance;
to form a Joint Commission of Third World Missions in the name of the Third World mission leaders who are represented in this Convention, and to authorize the Joint Commission to take all convenient and prudent actions in the interest of member countries in meeting these needs;
and to declare declaration #4 to be a Third World Declaration for World Peace and World Mission in the name of the Third World mission leaders.
According to Dr. Dale Kietzman, one of the founding members of AMA, “The most important outcome of that convention, undoubtedly, was the authorization to form a joint commission of Third World Missions. This action resulted in meetings for the next two years, hosted by Western Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon, at which the Third World Missions Association was formed.” And eventually through the TWMA Education Commission, the World Link University was founded later. TWMA, later became independent from AMA and have started it’s own calls for missions hoping the purposes in which it was created will be fulfilled among its leaders and members. World Link University is now being handled by Western Seminary under the leadership of Dr. Donald Smith.
THE 5th AMA CONVENTION
It was in Utsunomiya, Japan where the 5thTriennial Convention happened, under the leadership of Dr. Minoru Okuyama. The baton of AMA leadership has been transferred from Dr. David J. Cho who served as its Gen. Secretary from 1975 to 1986 to Dr. Okuyama of Japan. The theme of this convention was “World Christian for World Mission” and was held from Sept. 11-15, 1991.
In Utsunomiya, the AMA convention delegates were gathered and seriously discussed the significance of world events and of the rapid changes in the world order. As they contemplate and prayed together, they believed that “they must work shoulder to shoulder with all those who are seeking to reach the lost. They cannot delay the harvest any longer; they must commit all their forces in a coordinated strategy, holding nothing in reserve.”
And thus came the Utsunomiya Resolution ’91: Their CONSENSUS was“We must all work together. Churches and missions must cooperate with each other to fulfill the Great Commission. Their SUBMISSION was: to the priority of the claims of Christ upon our lives, as expressed in the mandate to “go into all the world.” We submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit, who directs us in this awesome responsibility as ambassadors of Christ in an alien world.
- We propose to partake in the goals and enterprises of our fellow workers, whether they are passing through favorable or unfavorable circumstances, seeking to develop our relationship through mutual involvement in achieving the goals God has set for each of us.
Third World mission agencies tend to be small and pluralistic, with diversities that may hinder the rapid growth of individual agencies.
- Our sheer numbers, however, dictate that we work together in a free structure, a grouping together that seeks integration yet maintains independence. We need to have networks for training and education, for research and communication, for financing and providing necessary services.
- God has given abundant resources to the Third World churches. To make the most effective use of them, we must find ways to pool these resources, and thus to make it possible for all to share in the abundance. We need to develop pools of expertise, experience, technology, capital, and manpower throughout the Third World. Only in this way will we be able to realize the full potential of mission from the Third World.
Their GOALS included the following…
- To promote national-level mission consultations in at least two countries of Asia each year, both to help strengthen existing associations of missions where they exist, and to promote the formation of such associations where they do not now exist, so that every country of Asia will have an active missions association by the year 2000.
- To encourage Asian missionaries to become active members of the Asian Missionary Fellowship now coming into being, in order that there can be better communication and cooperation among them at the grass-roots level, with a goal of having 10,000 missionaries as a part of that fellowship by the year 2000.
- To cooperate fully with World Link University now being formed by the Third World Missions Association, with a goal of having at least one training center in every country of Asia linked to and approved by it, and meeting the training needs of all member missions by the year 2,000.
- To create a network of research and communications experts available to give training seminars and workshops in every country, thus advancing the level of research and communications capabilities for all of our national associations.
- To promote the creation of the proposed Third World Stewardship Bank, and fully develop its potential for providing for the security needs of our missionaries and the capital needs of our missionary agencies and projects.
- To cooperate with the other agencies and associations involved to develop a significant center for the Third World Missions Advance (proposed for Batam Island, Indonesia) which can become the hub for innovative mission research, communication, and training.
And lastly, they APPEAL…:
- To World Christians and the churches in which they are found: We look to you to form a global community of people in contact with each other and aware of the challenges facing the completion of the task of world evangelization. We ask you to assume responsibilities to be a foundation on which missions can rely and, whenever possible, that you accept assignments, whether as professional or bi-vocational missionaries, in key positions overseas as a base to strengthen the witness of the Church in every country around the world.
- To Mission Leaders: We need your help in building bridges between our associations and agencies, in developing strategic and coordinated action to accomplish the task before us. We value your experience and the wisdom of years of service; we look to you for orientation and counsel.
- To Missionaries in the fields: We ask you to join hands, regardless of your national or denominational background, to form one mighty army of God. We plead for understanding and patience as new forces join you on the field, even though they come with different concepts or to do different tasks than you. We all desire to work together as one team, developing the most effective ministry possible in order to reach all the peoples of the earth in the shortest amount of time.
- To Young People: You are the missionaries of the future. In the light of the thousands of unreached peoples groups, we challenge you to become the one who will plant the church in one of those groups who have not yet heard of Jesus Christ. Our priority task is to prepare workers because the harvest is far greater than the number of workers now available. We appeal to you, young Christian people everywhere, to give heed to the claims of Christ upon your lives above all else. Follow Him!
THE 6th AMA CONVENTION
Japan for the 2nd time, played the host of the 6th AMA Convention held in Kobe, from April 9-10, 1997. It’s theme was “Mission to the World for Glory to God and Peace on Earth”. The 6th AMA ended with the “Kobe Affirmation on Christian Mission 1997.” The Kobe Affirmation contains as follows:
- We reaffirm the Seoul Declaration on Christian Mission of 1975, which declared the succession of the Biblical principle of mission, Wheaton Declaration, Berlin Declaration, Frankfurt Declaration, and we declared the severance from historical failures and mistakes. We declared sodality of missions and solidarities among newly emerging missions.
- We reaffirm the Asian Commitment of 1982. Our commitment were the responsibility to God; responsibility to the people; responsibility to the churches; responsibility to the society; and responsibility to the world.
- We reaffirm the Third World Declaration on World Mission and World Peace, 1986. We proclaimed to form a Third World Missions Association and World Christian Peace Commission.
- We reaffirm the Utsunomiya Resolution, 1991. We resolved our consensus of cooperation between mission agencies and local churches; our submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit, who directs us in this awesome responsibility as ambassadors of Christ in an alien world; our strategy to partake in the goals and enterprises of our fellow workers, whether they are passing through favorable or unfavorable circumstances; our goals to promote national-level mission consultations, to encourage the forming the missionary fellowship and to involve with training, research, and mutual mission fund program; our appeal to the world Christians, mission leaders, missionaries in the fields, and to young people to be partakers in the mission.
THE 7th AMA TRIENNIAL CONVENTION
Many mission leaders, not only from Asia but also from other parts of the world, gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia as the venue for the 7th Triennial AMA Convention
It’s theme was “Missionary Vision for the Third Millennium”. The Jakarta Convention was also the 25th year celebration of AMA. Official participants have come from twenty nations of Asia, and fraternal participants from many other nations of the world.
In the convention, held from October 23 to 27 of the year 2000, participants shared visions for the third millennium in the Bible each morning; they heard from prophetic voices in the Plenary Sessions; they learned the current status of the mission movement of every nation in Asia through the National Reports; and they challenged the Indonesian Christians to world mission in the Mission Rallies each evening.
Finally, they have agreed to proclaim their findings and commitments to pave a new way for Christian world mission in the new millennium as follows:
- As the second millennium of the Christian era passes into history, so does conquering religion from the Western world. In the past half-century, the decolonized nations developed, from past colonial churches, their own spontaneous churches. These churches are multiplying by the power of the spirit. Christianity is no longer a Western religion, but a global religion. The church of the decolonized nations has become a new force for the Christian world mission of the future. We, the Asian Missions Association, removed many stumbling stones and paved the way for the advancement of the new Christian world mission. We herewith declare that Christianity is no longer a Western religion, but a global religion suited for every nation. We wish our Christian mission to be one of peace, reconciliation, love, and hope for the powerless and endangered people of the world.
- We found the number of non-Western missionaries is much larger than that of traditional Western missionaries. The mission force is coming from virtually every nation in today’s world. The number of the non-Western missionaries is over 160,000, nearly two times of the size of the Western missionary force. Asian missionaries are a major force, large in numbers and scattered in every part of the world. We hereby commit to continue to send missionaries; to train, support, nurture, and care for them through strengthened Christian world ministries.
- We found weaknesses of our non-Western missions: a. Lack of access to information about our needs, such as publications, accurate data, current research, use of internet, and many other media-related applications. b. Limited financial resource, lack of missionary awareness, and pettiness in the operation of mission agencies. We, therefore, encourage every AMA national association to cooperate with each other to advance and strengthen each other in these areas of weakness, for the advancement of Asia’s global outreach.
We affirmed our responsibility to revitalize our disorganized efforts in the field and to seek harmony among our missionaries involved in these ministries. Innovation in mission structures of every nation is needed to avoid competition and duplication of projects in the fields. We have to cooperate to maximize our efforts and avoid draining our resources. We herewith announce the creation of the All Asian Forum as a cooperative structure of global ministries and to revitalize the Asian Missionary Fellowship. We encourage every member nation to join the forum and the fellowship, to work together as co-laborers for the truth.
- We reaffirm the Biblical mandate of witness, but not as it sometimes been displayed in the history of mission. We should not simply imitate the erratic history of Christian mission, but should declare ourselves successors to the New Testament order of witness, which is demonstrated in the Pauline mission recorded in the Acts of Apostle and in his letters to the churches. The apostolic mission moves from powerless and oppressed to the world of powers. We were the powerless and oppressed nations under Western colonial powers. Therefore we have no reason for fear worldly powers, just as the apostles were not afraid powers in their day. A break with the past erratic pattern of mission is the most essential requirement if we are to succeed in following the Pauline pattern of mission.
- We declare that the mission of the future should not focus on a developmental approach, but should anticipate the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We have to be prophetic in our witness. We have to be apart from worldly development. We therefore affirm that the Christian mission of the future should be to save every nation, because Jesus promised to call them to His throne at the day of His glorious coming again to the earth.
We, the Asia Missions Association, will endeavor to renew the Church as the Church of the Nations. The church should become the Church of Witness, overcoming its sometime erratic history in Asia. The new leadership of Christian mission in Asia commits itself to the responsibilities to renew missionary vision in the new millennium in order to accomplish this task, which was the commission of the Lord Jesus Christ to us as He ascended to the heaven.
For the sake of our Lord, the Savior of all nations, we have to be useful, available, and faithful.