On May 20, Dr. Ralph Winter, veteran missionary to Guatemala and missions activist extraordinaire, went to be with the Lord.
Among his many achievements, Dr. Winter, along with his wife Roberta, founded the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, and helped found the popular missions training program, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, or “Perspectives” as it is now simply known. I attended Perspectives in 1991 at Bethany Bible Church in Phoenix, Arizona, and it revolutionized my understanding of the Bible and my calling. For the first time, I was able to grasp God’s “big agenda” of healing, blessing, and transforming of all nations. A plan that was inaugurated immediately after the Fall of man, and which will continue until Christ returns at the end of the age. A plan that seamlessly links together the Old Testament with the New and reveals redemptive mission as the very theme of the entire Bible.
These same ideas have helped to shape our DNA school of thought. Much of my learning on this topic made its way into God’s Remarkable Plan for the Nations, one of the Kingdom Lifestyle Bible Study series.
In 1997, Ralph wrote what I considered to be the most important article that I had read of his up to that point. In The Future of Evangelicals in Missions: Will We Regain the Vision of our Forefathers in the Faith, Winter provided an insightful overview of 300 years of missions history, arguing that the Evangelical Church today is in the process of recovering the same comprehensive, transformational Kingdom theology that animated the British and U.S. churches during the Wesleyan revival in England and the Great Awakening in the U.S. I deeply resonated with this article and agree with Dr. Winter that God is at work in this way. I see evidence of this in the surprising hunger and excitement that our DNA teaching has engendered in churches worldwide. Indeed, our mission is very much wrapped up in helping the church recover this vision of Kingdom transformation.
In January, I had the honor of briefly meeting with Dr. Winter and Roberta at a gathering convened by Chuck Colson near Washington D.C. I thanked him for this paper and for all that he has done for the cause of Christ and missions. He was gracious, gentle, and humble. I thank God for his life and legacy which shaped my life personally as well as our ministry. A memorial service for Dr. Winter will be held on Sunday, June 28 at 3:00 pm in the main sanctuary of Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, CA. The family requests no flowers. Memorial gifts can be made out to the Roberta Winter Institute.