Lives transformed - BMS session
BMS World Mission will have an increased focused on refugees as part of its new five year strategy
The strategy was unveiled by General Director Kang San Tan at the BMS World Mission session on Saturday morning.
He explained BMS will focus its work on three particular groups – the most marginalised, least evangelised and people on the move.
The first two are very familiar, said Kang-San Tan – for several years BMS has sought to work in these areas. Two thirds of Christians are among the poorest and most marginalised, while 8,000 people groups have never heard the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. While the need in each place might look different, ‘we seek to bring in each abundance of life, where hunger and hopelessness bite,’ said Kang-San.
People on the move is the third area of focus, he continued. The number of refugees in the world today is greater than the population of the United Kingdom and Ireland combined. These are people choosing to leave, looking for a safer place to raise their families, or those who are forced to leave because of persecution, war, flooding or the lack of life’s basics.
‘If we are truly seeking to serve the most marginalised and least evangelised, then we can’t forget those who are on the move,' said Kang-San. 'As well as seeking to bring abundance to their home nations, we will meet them on the move, on the way – whether it’s the camps of Greece, or host countries like Lebanon, or countries in Europe, or indeed the UK.’
Kang-San added there will also be an increased focus on raising local workers – a point prophetically made by BMS founder William Carey, who more than 200 years ago had had a vision that raising leaders in local churches would 'supersede the necessity of sending Europeans'. This vision has become a reality in the last five years, said Kang-San. Many of the lives transformed by BMS were reached by local workers, sent by partners supported by BMS. Local Christian workers are stepping forward 'in strength and vitality'.
BMS will partner with churches and Baptist networks, pool resources, knowledge and experience together so we can ‘send all of those who God has called to mission – not only British, but global Baptists.’
He introduced the Revd Ardi Wiriadinata, director of mission for the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation – a supported mission partner with BMS. Ardi emphasised the importance of the disciple making movement advocated by BMS.
‘We believe discipleship is the way and means God has designed for us to live,' he said. ‘We look forward to see how we can help and equip local churches to disciple the young Christian.. who will be the future of society.'
The session also emphasised a couple of further areas of focus for BMS – a commitment to creation care, introduced by Laura-Lee Lovering in Peru, and fighting gender injustice, introduced by Louise Lynch in Bangladesh.
Earlier in the session there was an update on the BMS strategy from 2016-2020, which sought the transformation of 1,000,000 lives across seven ministries church, education, justice, development, health, leadership and relief.
In a grand reveal accompanied by party poppers, Kang-San said more then 1,300,000 lives had been transformed across the strategy. The following video was shown capturing some of the highlights.
Delving into the details, Deputy Director for Mission Steve Sanderson said there was wide-ranging success across the board, except in justice ministries, where BMS had parted with some organisations.
Church planting was the biggest area, with a 500,000 target, while healthcare saw the largest increase on its target. Steve also explained how the figures had been based on genuine transformation.
‘What do we take away from the past five years,’ asked Steve. ‘Well, we can set the strategy, but really all we are hoping to do is join with what God is already doing. We’ve seen him weave together the right people with the right skills at the right time, backed up by your prayers and generosity… and then miracles happen.’