Remember the Experiencing God study by Henry Blackaby? The basic premise is this: God is always at work around you. This concept has its roots in John 5:17, where Jesus said: “My Father is at work until now, and I too am working.”
Yes, God is at work, and nowhere have I experienced his awesome working as I have in the “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” (PWCM) course that I have been involved in for over 25 years. This month I begin another semester of teaching in this life-changing mission encounter.
Where did the PWCM originate? In the early 20th century, the Student Volunteer Movement, an advance of missions on college campuses spurred on by D. L. Moody’s support, had resulted in literally thousands of students pledging themselves to fulfilling the Great Commission.
Then in 1948, the Urbana Missions Conference first came to the United States. Jim Elliot, who was later martyred in Ecuador in 1957, was one of 1,331 students in attendance. He said that he received his call to foreign missions at that conference.
Now spring forward to Urbana 1973. Seventeen thousand college students attended this conference, and over 28% of them (5,000+) signed pledge cards indicating the commitment of their lives to world evangelization (this was up from a mere 8% in 1970). Something was going on, and Ralph Winter smelled the delicious aroma of missions mobilization in the air.
Winter realized that these prospective missionaries had little chance of success unless someone came alongside and trained them to be prepared for what lay ahead. And thus, under the early name of “Summer Institute of International Studies,” Ralph Winter launched the PWCM. The first class with 29 students registered was offered in the summer of 1974 at Wheaton College. By 1979 a full semester course was being offered at Penn State with eighty students in attendance.
Since those early days, more than 80,000 believers in North America and 20,000 more around the world have taken the PWCM course. Each year, about 200 classes are hosted in churches and community centers around the country. The course is also being offered in over 15 foreign countries with more on the way and the textbook is being translated into numerous languages.
I can personally attest to Floyd McClung’s oft-repeated aphorism: “Perspectives. It will ruin your life for the ordinary!” The fact that this course has so impacted my life compels me to undertake a rigorous schedule in January and August. This month I will be teaching 13 classes in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. In February I will teach another eight classes in Indiana, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Virginia, District of Columbia, and New Jersey. I will teach one more in Virginia in April.
Is it hard for an old man like me to teach so many of those classes? No, when I consider the privilege it is for me to be involved in this phenomenal movement, I think of Lou Gehrig’s parting words as a New York Yankee: “I am the luckiest man in the world!”
Interested in more information? Go to www.perspectives.org.