Forward Thinking: the Fourth Foundational Value of Missio Nexus

This is the last in my series of presenting the four values that drive what we deliver at Missio Nexus. The four we have identified speak into what we in essence are, and are presenting to the mission community of North America. Again, these values are not stand alones, or something new. Rather, we have discovered that they have been demonstrated in the lives of past missionaries, missionary statesmen, and biblical leaders. That is why after defining the value in our unique way, we highlight historical figures (our “heroes”) who have exemplified that value in their lives and ministry.


Value: Forward Thinking

The contemplative posture of considering future developments when making plans, that favors progress, improvement and innovation



Samuel MillsSamuel Mills (1783 – 1818)

Mills was a visionary, motivator, and tireless inspiration during the opening years of the North American missionary movement. He is best remembered for organizing the “Haystack Prayer Meeting” at Williams College, which became the stimulus for the formation of the Society of the Brethren that influenced the launch of the American missionary movement. Mills spent his life in cutting edge far-reaching mission concerns. He initiated work among the poor in New York City, worked briefly as a missionary to the Mississippi Valley, was instrumental in the formation of the American Bible Society (1816), and worked tirelessly for the re-settlement of freed slaves to West Africa through the establishment of the American Colonization Society (1817). Only his untimely death, on board ship on a return trip from Africa, kept him from further impacting the fledging missionary movement with new ideas.

 “We can do it, if we will.”

– Samuel Mills (At Haystack Prayer Meeting)



Lott CareyLott Carey (1780 – 1828)

Lott Carey was a premier African-American pioneer missionary to Liberia. As a Baptist and respected leader of freed African-American slaves, he first taught the importance of African-American involvement in missions, and then mobilized a small group to do so by setting up a colony of freed slaves in West Africa that became Liberia. He and his band arrived in West Africa in 1821, becoming the first Baptist mission to Africa. Once there, Carey established the first Baptist church in Monrovia, he initiated the establishment of schools for the settlers, and started a mission school among the local Via people. He went on to establish the Monrovia Baptist Missionary Society, and served as its first president. He crafted an emigrant program for the country, and was eventually appointed governor. To facilitate communications he devised road construction projects and shipping vessels to run constantly to America. At his untimely accidental death in 1828, he left behind a legacy of innovative godly leadership in both the secular and mission spheres.

“Son, you will grow strong.  You will lead many, and perhaps

it may be you who will travel over the big seas to carry the

great secret to my people.”  – Lott Carey’s grandmother




Ralph D WinterRalph D. Winter (1924 – 2009)

Ralph Winter was one of the most innovative missioloigical thinkers of the twentieth century. As a missionary in Guatemala, he launched the Theological Education by Extension Movement that became worldwide in scope and connection. Called to the School of World Missions of Fuller Theological Seminary in the mid-60’s, he founded the William Carey Library for the publication of missionary literature. He helped establish the American Society of Missiology, and also the International Society of Frontier Missiologists. His 1974 address at LCWE, Lausanne, awakened the church to the need of reaching people groups. In 1976 he and his wife Roberta founded the US Center for World Mission, and then in 1977 the William Carey International University. He founded the influential Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course, wrote myriads of articles on mission strategy, and promoted the concept of modality and sodality in relation to church and missions. Winter was a sought-after speaker and consultant to the global mission movement, revered for his ideas and knowledge of missions that was second to none.

“I am willing to fail. Risks are not to be evaluated in terms of

the probability of success, but in terms of the value of the goal.”

– Ralph D. Winter



Joseph – COO of Egypt

A prime example of forward thinking is Joseph in his role as second in authority in the land of Egypt. For the greater good of Egypt and the survival of the Egyptians and other nations near by, Joseph proposed a seven-year conservation program in a time of plenty, that would sustain the Egyptians through seven successive years of famine (Gen. 33-40). Additionally, once his estranged brothers appeared, he was forward thinking in testing them as to their character (Gen. 44). Then again in settling his family in Goshen (Gen. 47) and in defusing a potential family rift (Gen. 50:15-21). Finally, looking much further into the future, “Joseph at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites (some 400 years later!) and gave directions concerning his bones” (Heb. 11:22).


Apostle John – Revealer of the Future

No one in scripture was able to look further into the future than the apostle John. It was the supernatural “revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place, by sending his angel to his servant John,” (Rev. 1:1) that qualified John to see so far. First, as to the immediate future, going clockwise from Ephesus around western Asia Minor, John relayed to seven local churches their possible fates (Rev. 2-3). Their destinies, whether it turned out to good or evil, was dependent upon their response to divine warnings.


Then, looking far into the future – even as far as eternity – John revealed what will take place at the end of the world and beyond, into the new heaven and new earth. Intermixed in the visions and messages are descriptions of God’s messengers and their vital role in bringing about his eternal purpose.

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