103 years ago the famed leader of the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM), John Mott, visited Japan and met with the Japanese Prime Minister to request his involvement in a historic meeting of world Christian leaders.
That dream came true in 1910 in Edinburgh Scotland, where the first World Missions Conference was held to join together and organize those working throughout the world to advance the Kingdom.
Edinburgh 1910 gave birth to two distinct visions. The first was the need for world Christian leaders to come together to plan and strategize for World Missions. The second vision, not envisioned by the founders, gave birth to the League of Nations and ultimately the United Nations for which Dr. John Mott received the Nobel Peace Prize.
First envisioned by Missions pioneer Dr. Ralph Winter in 1980 when “Edinburgh 80” was held, it was one of his last dreams to hold the 100th anniversary of the Edinburgh Conference where the dream began — in Japan.
From May 11-14, 2010, nearly 1,400 delegates from nearly 140 countries descended upon Tokyo in one of the largest number of nations to attend one conference in the city’s history.
The Japanese Prime Minister sent his personal greetings to the conference through MP Ryuichi Doi who is also a pastor.
The conference coordinator was Dr. Hisham Kamel of Egypt and the Japan Host Chairman was Dr. Minoru Okuyama, director of the Missionary Training Center assisted by Rev. Elmer Inafuku, pastor of one of Tokyo’s largest Churches and a team of Church and Mission leaders.
The conference was divided into two major groups with over 120 workshops and strategy sessions on World Missions and evening rallies bringing the Japanese hosts together with the delegates from throughout the world.
The highlight of the conference was the final declaration and the presentation of the “Missions Nobel Prize” the “St. Paul Prize” which went to those who had made significant contributions to World Missions.
Those receiving the prize included Dr. Billy Graham, Dr. Ralph Winter, posthumously, Dr. Billy Kim of Korea and the Rev. Kenny Joseph and his wife Lila, of Japan, both veteran missionaries to Japan, whose life story is told in Dan Wooding’s book, “God’s Ambassadors in Japan.”
Rev. Joseph organized the first postwar mission agency in Japan and sent out the first missionaries from that country.
Total attendance was nearly 18,000 at the famed Nakano Sun Plaza convention center and luminaries in the World Mission Movement included Dr. Obed Alvarez, Chairman of the Third World Mission Association, Dr. David Cho, founder of the Asia Missions Association, Dr. Paul Eschlemen, of Campus Crusade for Christ and others.
A theme of the conference was the dramatic shift in the center of world mission over the past 100 years with the dramatic growth of the Church in the Third World and Asia.
The conference put together an ongoing world mission network to follow up, strategize and continue the work begun in 1910. For more information, go to: www.tokyo2010.org
Pam Mueller, ANS