I’m not sure what our Alliance founder, A.B. Simpson, was envisioning but 125 years after sending his first group of workers to the Congo there is a significant family of 50 national Alliance churches around the world growing at about 8% a decade. Representatives of this global family met in Toronto this past week. At our table we prayed for one year old Thierri who was sick on Friday – his father Isaac Coulibally  skyped with his wife in Abidjan every morning. During breaks in the program you could hear leaders bent over small laptops speaking in unknown tongues as they dealt with the issues of the day half a world away.

AFRICA REGION

The progress grew from 1884 when the first group went to the heart of Africa, most of which didn’t survive the first 24 months before succumbing to tropical diseases. Others from Simpson’s missionary training school continued to flow the gospel light into the dark continent and today the Congo Alliance church is one of the largest CMA bodies in the AWF with nearly half a million members.

Congo Kinshasa 1884 – 465,000 members

Cote d’Ivoire 1930 – 365,000

Guinea 1919 – 67,000

Burkina Faso 1923 – 61,000

Mali 1923 – 37,000

Gabon 1933 – 30,000

Angola/Cabinda 1884 – 3,000

Congo-Brazzaville 1982 – 2,000

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST REGION

The Alliance sent two women missionaries to the Holy Land in 1890. They established themselves in Jerusalem and began evangelizing all people groups in the land – Jews, Arabs and internationals by means of personal evangelism and Bible distribution.

Holy Land (Palestine) 1890 –

Jordon 1890 – 750 members

Syria 1920 – 4 church plants

France 1965 – 1,600

Germany 1975 – 400

Spain 1978 – 1,500

Netherlands – 68 congregations

Iraq 1990 – 3 gatherings

Russia 1993 – 3,000

ASIA AND PACIFIC REGION

Robert Jaffray was the early Canadian missionary who left Toronto to go to Asia to established gospel outposts, always pushing onward toward a new frontier. The largest Alliance body in the AWF family is Viet Nam with 1.5 million members and which celebrated it’s 100 year anniversary last year. Reg Reimer’s recent book tells the story. Read my summary here.

Vietnam 1911 – 1,500,000 members

Philippines 1901 – 400,000

Indonesia 1929 – 400,000

Cambodia 1923 – 200,000

Hong Kong 1949 – 33,000

Thailand 1930 – 7,000

Burma 1985 – 3,000

Taiwan 1953 – 2,300

New Zealand – 7 churches

Australia 1969 – 5,000

Japan 1893 – 2,850

India 1882

MISSION EFFORTS

With the maturing of national bodies has come the development of their missionary efforts where now 18 national church bodies have become sending agencies. The Philippines has 63 missionaries. Cote d’Ivoire had one missionary in the year 2000 and shortly after when most of the western missionaries had to leave due to political instability, the national church came to the understanding that they better pick up the baton, that the work of missions was not only for western countries, but that African countries should also own the great commission and engage; today the Cote d’Ivoire church has 42 missionaries that they fully care for.

Many of the national bodies have seen explosive growth and have had to meet the challenge of developing leaders for these faith communities; the Philippine church CAMACOP has half a dozen Bible schools and a seminary; the Congo has two bible institutes and a seminary; the Cote d’Ivoire has a couple of lay leader institutes, a Bible Institute and a seminary.

TENTH QUADRENNIAL GATHERING

At the conference last week in Toronto the key note evening speakers were Dr Franklin Pyles ( Canada), Dr Isaac Coulibaly (Cote d’Ivoire), Dr Ajith Fernando (Sri Lanka), Dr Walter Perez (Peru). Dr Arnold Cook, former AWF Executive Director,  presided at the Lord’s Table calling us all to remembrance of those for whom the table has not yet been set (see video clip here). In his remarks he made mention of that fact that while many Alliance authors in presenting and discussing the fourfold gospel have done well on the theology of salvation, sanctification and healing, it is his opinion that Ambrose theologian Dr Bernie Van De Walle has done the best in researching and bringing forward the thinking of Simpson on the end times. The WCD recently distributed that book to all district churches; there were a dozen left over which we had the pleasure of giving to the national church presidents of Australia, Germany and the Philippines; and to the deans of theological institutions in Jordon, Cote d’Ivoire and Latin America.

Arie Verduijn (Holland) was elected to a third four year term as Executive Director of AWF with Wilson Kaan (Canadian) as Treasurer. A Toronto Manifesto was adopted calling the Alliance back to the basics of the fourfold gospel.

AWF STATISTICAL SUMMARY

  • Using the numbers from the last nine year period (2001-2009), AWF is showing a decadal growth rate in      both baptized members (6.75%) and inclusive membership (8%).
  • The average attendance in an Alliance church (organized and unorganized) grew from 140 to 271. The total      number of churches grew by 456 from 18,332 in 2001 to 18,788 in 2009. One church per week was added to the Alliance family in the nine years under review.
  • Since 2005, the number of cross-cultural missionaries sent out by AWF churches has actually declined from 1,286 to 1,213. The good news is that 18 national churches reported that they sent out 365 cross-cultural missionaries in 2009.
  • Our Canadian Alliance family has 129,000 inclusive members in 435 churches.

More stats are on the sites of  CMA-US and AWF.

MIFG

So as we were driving home one evening along Steeles Ave E in Toronto to our place of lodging we came up behind an older beige Toyota Avalon with the license plate “AC MIFG”. As we passed there was Mr Maximum Impact For God himself, Arnold Cook, with both hands on the wheel at 10 & 2 heading home – still going strong in his 9th decade.  Read his reflections on a life of ministry in the Alliance here. Love that man.

 

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