By Bill Bray, ASSIST News Service Special Correspondent
RICHMOND, VA (ANS, October 19, 2017) – The 21st Annual Consultation on the Support of Indigenous Missions, which came close to dissolving itself only two years ago in Nashville, vigorously sprung back into life last week in nearby Richmond, Virginia. Over 60 leaders of indigenous agencies and native mission boards gathered for three days to renew their focus and unite to obey Christ’s commission to finish the task.
Indigenous missions are a global phenomenon. However, India and China, countries that have forbidden foreign missionaries since the early 1950’s, are the centers of indigenous missions movement today.
Key indigenous missions’ leaders, many of whom traveled to the conference at their own expense, came from Africa, China, India and the Middle East. Overseas delegates outnumbered American agencies for the first time. For some, the airfare alone was a year’s salary in their homelands.
“That indigenous mission’s leaders are now the majority marks a milestone in world evangelism,” explained David Bogosian, missiologist and convener of this year’s consultation.
Begosian said that the main purpose of the conference continues to be providing a forum to better exchange intelligence and resources between leaders.
“COSIM can become a way to be the face of this movement—a way to represent our common interests to the outside world and the church. It’s still in the idea stage but we are becoming a forum for collaboration as well.
“This is the only place where leaders can come and share their problems—and I think we are beginning to build bridges and learning to do things together. This collaboration began in the 2016 Consultation and our sessions this year were an extension of that spirit.”
Global reports were presented by overseas delegates on a continent by continent basis in addition to crisis reports from the nation states of Chad, India and Lebanon. The closed-door conference was not open to the public. It was held at a secluded conference center just north of Richmond—with additional follow-up meetings here in Charlottesville.
Plenary sessions on best practices, dealing with the challenges of member care, and better accountability were held between the situation reports from field leaders. Plans for collaboration to deal with growing persecution campaigns worldwide were discussed, especially in relation to Chad, India and the Middle East.
Small follow-up committees and groups were formed by the table chairs and COSIM leadership to implement recommendations. Plans were made for implementation conferences in Charlottesville and overseas.
COSIM, the Consultation on Support of Indigenous Missions, began in October, 1996 at the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois. Featured speakers that first year included Bob Finley of Christian Aid and K.P. Yohannan of Gospel for Asia. It brought together the older sponsorship agencies such as Advancing Native Missions, Christian Aid, Overseas Students Mission, Partners International and with a new wave of smaller mission boards who were then starting to raise finances for indigenous missions.
Much attention was given to increasing persecution, especially from India where the BJP Hindu nationalist government is increasingly attacking indigenous Christians and other minorities. Indian delegates reported in heart-breaking detail how the Government is suppressing religious freedom under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The question facing missions leaders now is not,” says David Bogisian, “Do we need COSIM or indigenous missions—but how can we as leaders do indigenous missions right and do it better?”
It is clear that he believes COSIM is the best answer.
Photo captions: 1) Partners together in Asia. 2) Bob Finley meets with Billy Graham. 3) Indian Christian protesting persecution. (http://theestherproject.com/). 4) Bill Bray.
About the writer: Bill Bray is a Christian author and missionary journalist who specializes in Christian reporting for ASSIST News. He ministers free of charge and depends on faith offerings and gifts to carry on his journalistic mission. Gifts for his support may be sent to www.OSMission.org, Gift Code 099-WTB. He is the author of, Called to All: How I discovered the power of a yielded life from WestBow Press. He welcomes interaction with our readers and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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