MAF Releases Study on Global Evangelism

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), an aviation, communications, and technology ministry serving more than 600 Christian and non-governmental organizations worldwide, has announced the results of "Operation ACCESS!"-a five-year global research project that provides critical, unprecedented information that will shape international evangelism, ministry and humanitarian strategies for the next 20 years. The landmark study (www.operationaccessmaf.org), which focuses on pockets of people who are forgotten or heretofore unreachable, identifies areas where transportation, communications, and/or technology barriers prevent or impede access to the gospel, or to sustained resources needed to enable community development, healthcare, and education services. It assesses the nature and significance of the barriers, the degree of any ministry taking place, and suggests how the barriers can be overcome. "Research shows that despite the extraordinary missions efforts of the church, three out of four people alive on the earth today still have not heard the gospel," said Kevin Swanson, MAF president. "The Apostle Paul in Romans 10:14-15 talked about the need to send preachers.' But preachers can't be sent unless the barriers that prevent their access and sustainability are overcome. Operation ACCESS!' is a strategic roadmap' to accomplish this God-appointed task." Swanson likened the potential impact of Operation ACCESS! to the "10/40 Window" strategy popularized by missions strategist Luis Bush. Operation ACCESS! research is being made available to denominations, ministries, churches, and humanitarian agencies around the world. Many who were briefed on the study at the report's June 6 release hailed Operation ACCESS! as groundbreaking research that will affect the focus of their work for years to come. "MAF's foundational re-analysis of its work and of mission work in general has produced a breathtaking new analysis of the challenge before us," said Dr. Ralph Winter, founder of the U.S. Center for World Missions. Charles H. Kraft, professor of Anthropological and Intercultural Communication at Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Missions, called the study "one of the most promising projects I've seen in my 32 years at Fuller." Missions and agency leaders will be invited to a conference at the future MAF headquarters in Nampa, ID, Oct. 18-19 to discuss and plan how to work together effectively to use the Operation ACCESS! research. Operation ACCESS! surveys covering 364 remote sectors in 64 countries found that in every sector transportation, communications, or technology barriers prevent or impede people's access to the gospel, resources for spiritual growth, and basic services. Key findings are as follows: Fifty-two percent of all sectors present "significant" barriers to reaching people living in the area. Sixty-six percent of all sectors had little or no ministry in place. "Significant" communications barriers are faced in 89 percent of sectors; 56 percent of sectors face almost insurmountable communications barriers. Eighty-seven percent of sectors are difficult to access by road. Other barriers include: social and economic factors (75 percent); agency resources factors (61 percent); transportation and travel factors (23 percent); political and religious factors (21 percent); and geography factors (6 percent). Fulfilling the task of the Great Commission demands that barriers be addressed and strategies deployed to overcome them-and that they be developed in cooperation with indigenous and international missions groups. Surveys were conducted in 15 of the 27 countries where the top 100 least-reached people groups live (Joshua Project). Founded in 1945, MAF stations some 200 missionary families in the remotest regions of 23 countries on five continents. MAF pilots fly approximately 40,000 flights a year, transporting missionaries, medical personnel, medicines and relief supplies, as well as conducting thousands of emergency medical evacuations. MAF also provides telecommunications services, such as satellite phones, high-frequency radios, electronic mail and other wireless systems, in isolated areas. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of MAF pilot Nate Saint, who, along with missionaries Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian, was speared to death by Waodani (Auca) Indians in Ecuador.

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