By Bill Bray, Special Missions Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
ORLANDO, FLORIDA (ANS – April 8, 2017) – “I’m retired, ready to go, and palms-up before God,” says Christian broadcaster Wayne Pederson, “I’m ready to do and to go where He wants me to go.” Wayne is a self-described “Jesus Follower” and often finds himself playing the role of the evangelistic conscience of the National Religious Broadcasters.
And so, at age 70, it is no surprise that he believes God wants him to chair IDU 2017 — the newly born International Day for the Unreached (www.dayfortheunreached.org). Officially he is “Global Ambassador” for what he prays will become an international movement on Pentecost Sunday — June 4 this year.
And that passion is what brought him out of retirement to come here and plead with fellow broadcasters at the NRB Proclaim 17 National Media Convention; challenging them to join him in calling and mobilizing the church to rediscover the missionary vision it has lost.
Local churches, campus/student movements, missions and prayer movements like International House of Prayer and Operation Esther need strong collaboration with Christian broadcasters—especially when it comes to proclaiming the gospel.
The convergence of broadcasting, media, social media and church leadership is essential to fulfilling the vision of IDU. The campaign is sophisticated and includes 30-day publicity efforts using publicity templates and other collateral materials, local radio and church media, Bible studies, prayer movements, virtual podcasts and a 90-minute special on Pentecost Sunday.
Pederson arrived early at the NRB convention this year, attending all the international sessions and the official meetings of the G-20, a group made up of indigenous mission members who collaborate with NRB American ministries. Everywhere he went, he was the voice of collaborative, unified focus on the Great Commission and world evangelism.
Now less than two months away, the IDU 2017 event is deliberately planned as a celebration on and around Pentecost Sunday. It hopes to take advantage of the liturgical focus on the birthday of the church that day—and on the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower evangelism.
IDU deals with what Pederson thinks is probably the biggest and most “urgent crisis” in American missions — and it has always been at the heart of Pederson’s passion. Since he began his career as an announcer at KTIS Minneapolis/St. Paul at University of Northwestern – St. Paul, he has relentlessly promoted the worldwide advance of the gospel.
“Over two billion people have yet to hear about Jesus,” he laments, “yet less than .5 percent of evangelical giving goes to ministry among them — but this is not about money, IDU is about creating awareness!
“Only 5 percent of the world’s missionaries are serving among the most unreached, he says, “The more loudly we can proclaim the message of IDU, the more people—the more quickly—the more we will see the lost hearing the gospel.”
Pederson, who has spent a lifetime in missions as well as broadcasting, helped to organize IDU when he was president of HCJB Global—now Reach Beyond. When he retired last September, he continued to chair IDU 2017.
HCJB was one of the original founders of the Alliance for the Unreached which sponsors IDU. The group of seven “like-minded” partners are spending over $100,000 this year to promote the new focus on the lost—a tiny fraction of what is needed.
They include Jeff McLinden of Bibles for the World, Steve Johnson of Reach Beyond, Larry Andrews of Partners International, Marvin Newell of Missio Nexus, Greg Kelley of World Mission, John Pudaite of Bibles for the World, Steve Harling of Reach Beyond, Andrew Scott of OM USA, and Jon Hirst of Global Mapping.
Other forward thinking leaders like George Verwer and Steve Eshelman of Finishing the Task have endorsed the idea—but it has not caught fire yet. Broadcasters and Christian media have much to distract them at events like Proclaim 17.
Business, causes galore, politics and technology compete for the gaze of American Christian broadcasters just as there are many idols that compete for the spiritual attention of Christians in the pews of American churches.
The next generation of indigenous Christian leaders has the tools, believes Pederson to finish the task. “In many ways, they’re ahead of us, especially in digital communications—but we have to build the bridges to serve them and help get the job done…and I am staying palms up before the Lord.”
If Wayne Pederson stays true to his vision, perhaps the International Day for the Unreached will solve the spiritual crisis of American evangelicalism. At least it addresses the need.
Photo captions: 1) Wayne Pederson. 2) IDU logo. 3) Bill Bray.
About the writer: Bill Bray, 70, is a Christian journalist who specializes in missions and student ministries. He is the author or co-author of 13 missions’ books including, Called to All: How I discovered the power of a yielded life from Thomas Nelson/WestBow Press. He welcomes interaction with our readers and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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