I remember as if it were yesterday the Amsterdam 2000 meetings. I was facilitating a small group seated at Table 71 in the middle of a room of 600 missions executives and strategists. We were considering a special part of the challenge of fulfilling the Great Commission – getting things started in the remaining unengaged, unreached people groups (UUPGs).
We spent the first few days discussing the nature of that daunting task. Many of the remaining UUPGs were in difficult and dangerous places. Then we listened and prayed as Bruce Wilkinson challenged the group to adopt specific groups until all could be accounted for.
Well, God seriously stirred the hearts of those of us at Table 71. How could there be an unengaged group, where no one was even trying? The resources existed, but the collective will to finish did not. In a matter of minutes with one heart we agreed, “Let’s just do it!”.
You can watch what played out from there in a video about that day (see www.table71.org).
What is absolutely amazing to me is what has happened since. The Table 71 partnership has met 40 times since Amsterdam 2000. Progress was slow at first as we forged into the uncharted territory of cooperation among a rather diverse group of missions organizations. Some of them were Wycliffe/Seed Company, Youth With A Mission, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and Campus Crusade for Christ/Jesus Film).
Slowly but surely, strong trust-relationships were built. We started doing specific projects together and launched new groups and emphases to implement parts of the task. Over the years, the following groups were launched or influenced by the relationships formed in the Table 71 meetings:
In November 2005 researchers informed us that there were still 639 UUPGs with populations of over 100,000. This represented the vast majority of people living in all UUPGs. Today about 90% of those 639 are no longer unengaged! Only God could account for that remarkable progress. But He did use people — connected with Table 71 and beyond.
As I reflect back on the experience at Table 71 at Amsterdam 2000, I marvel that we said “yes” so quickly to such a big challenge. We were all busy. I am sure none of us went into those meetings thinking we would add something to our plates. But God touched each of our hearts and caused us to say, “Let’s just do it!” I suppose the main thing we did right was to listen to what God was saying to us.
So what about you? Is God saying something to you? You see, the day will come when there will be “zero” UUPGs. Wouldn’t you like to look back on the events leading up to that day and say, “I was a part of that!”?
Steve Douglas is President and Chairman of the Board Campus of Crusade for Christ International. Douglass came to the ministry after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School. He is the author or co-author of several books, including Managing Yourself, How to Achieve Your Potential and Enjoy Life, and Enjoying Your Walk with God. His radio program, Lighthouse Report, airs daily on 800 stations.