The year 2006 was one full of hope for missions. The mission field welcomed many historic first-ever events while others celebrated milestones. The following are mission highlights from this past year:
Mission Aviation Fellowship Operation ACCESS! MAF released its landmark study called Operation ACCESS! on June 6. The five-year global research project identified areas where transportation, communications and technology hinder access to the Gospel or prevent resources needed to enable community development. The study, some say, will shape international mission for the next 20 years.
Hope Rwanda Award-winning singer, songwriter and worship leader Darlene Zschech and husband Mark Zschech of Hillsong Church in Australia helped coordinate churches, ministries and Christians worldwide for the launch of Hope Rwanda: 100 Days of Hope.
The global mission project coincided with the 12th anniversary of the 100 days of the Rwandan genocide where 1 million civilians were murdered. The project aimed to replace the pain with hope and compassion. A medical team of surgeons and nurses joined engineers, teachers, and popular Christian artists between Apr. 7 and July 15 to provide medical assistance, construction projects, education aids and other services to the Rwandan people. Joyce Meyer, Saddleback Church, and Willow Creek Community Church were some of the Christian leaders and churches involved in Hope Rwanda.
China Bible Ministry Exhibition The first-ever China Bible Ministry Exhibition in the United States showcased in Los Angeles at the famed Crystal Cathedral on Apr. 28. The exhibit then moved to Atlanta where former president Jimmy Carter spoke during the opening ceremony and concluded its tour in New York. The exhibit stirred controversy with some Chinese-American Christian leaders and human rights groups accusing the exhibit as religious freedom propaganda by the Chinese government. The exhibit displayed Christian artifacts including hundreds-of-years-old Bibles and rare wood carvings depicting Bible stories.
EQUIP Ministries Million Leaders Mandate The mission organization launched its Million Leaders Mandate a second time this year but on a larger scale. EQUIP added 43 locations and 26 staff members with the goal to equip one million leaders by the end of 2006. The goal was fulfilled and over one million Christian leaders were equipped this year.
Growth of Pentecostalism In 2006, Pentecostals worldwide celebrated the last 100 years of Pentecostalism history and growth with two large-scale events marking the centennial of the Azusa Street Revival, which made international headlines and is widely credited as the watershed of modern-day Pentecostalism.
Once relegated to the theological fringe, Pentecostalism now claims up to 600 million followers worldwide and remains one of the fastest-growing segments of global Christianity. The movement spread quickly overseas because of its adaptability to local cultures, whose indigenous beliefs often include healings and casting out of evil spirits, and because of the exuberance of its worship. The Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life noting the lack of quantitative studies on the religious, political and civic views of individuals involved in Pentecostal groups - conducted surveys in 10 countries with sizeable renewalist populations. The results found that Pentecostals are deeply influencing the Roman Catholic and mainstream Protestant churches and are poised to make a big impact on global affairs.