Some of the worlds leading international missions organizations gathered recently to discuss a new landmark study that some say could shape international missions for the next 20 years.
Representatives from 15 organizations including JAARS, OMS International, Mission to Unreached Peoples, Talking Bibles International, New Tribes Mission Aviation, and Global Mapping International gathered Oct. 18-19 at the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) headquarters in Idaho.
The five-year MAF study, Operation ACCESS!, had surveyed 364 remote sectors in 64 countries. The report compiled information on transportation, communication and technology that could hinder access to the Gospel or prevent resources needed for community development. It also evaluated the type and significance of the barriers, the activity of any ministry there, and provided suggestions on how to overcome the barriers.
Operation ACCESS! is very exciting, said Phil Butler, president of visionSynergy and the conference facilitator, according to an MAF release on Monday. Its hard to come across a study that has been done in the last 15 years that would come close to the detail of this study.
Butler said that the report, if applied and taken to heart, will open opportunities for mission groups to form partnerships for evangelism.
We are working with MAF to get the material broken down into bite-sized pieces that are easy to understand and that illustrate their significant value, said the conference facilitator.
MAF and mission leaders hope to use the study to help assess the current effectiveness of their work in regards to the barriers outlined in the report as well as identify areas of need.
John Mark Estelle of New Tribes Mission Aviation commented that the study is the beginning to new mission strategies that will make evangelism more effective in todays world.
This is something that will be ongoing and that other missions leaders can contribute to, said MAFs chief operating officer, Dave Bochman. Additional help is necessary to carry it out. Thats what the conference dealt with, as it cultivated greater collaboration among mission groups. Its a tool that encourages strategic partnerships and cooperation between agencies.
Mission Aviation Fellowship, founded in 1945, helps transport missionaries, medical personnel, medicines, relief supplies, and conducts emergency medical evacuations. It has helped station some 200 missionary families in the remotest regions of 223 countries on five continents. MAF pilots fly approximately 40,000 flights a year. The mission aviation group also provides telecommunications services, such as satellite phones, high-frequency radios, electronic mail and other wireless systems in isolated areas.