By John Aitken
God has provided Echoes of Service and Interlink with a unique opportunity to join together as Echoes International, to bring a new energy to mission in and from the UK. John Aitken, Echoes International Director, outlines our new vision for the future together.
There are times when an opportunity presents itself and seizing it can change everything. Inspired choices, Spirit-led decisions and courageous decision-making are the essence of such moments.
Interlink and Echoes of Service have, over the past 18 months, been working to seize such a moment. God has provided the two organisations with a unique opportunity to join together to bring a new energy to mission in and from the UK. Rather than manage mission decline, the possibility of a new impetus in mission-sending has presented itself. However, seizing this moment will take more than human ingenuity. Realising a new future will involve prayer, dependence on God, hard work and effective partnerships. We need your ongoing prayerful support as we move forward.
6,200 Mission Workers in 135 Countries
For over a century, Interlink and Echoes of Service have been committed to mission and the spread
of the gospel. During this time, over 6,200 mission workers, commended by local churches in England,
Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, have served in over 135 countries. Hundreds of dedicated
workers, supported by countless believers and assemblies up and down the country, have seen
their work blessed by God.
The Lord has used partnerships between sending churches, mission workers and supporters,
backed up by Interlink and Echoes of Service. Today there are over 1,000 assemblies in Argentina,
and at least 2,350 evangelists associated with Brethren fellowships in India, reaching the unreached.
There are new signs of growth in North Africa and Turkey, and indigenous believers in Ethiopia are
blazing a gospel trail into unreached parts of their country. Only Heaven will fully reveal the true
impact of the years of labour.
A Changeless Message, Changing Methods
Over the decades, mission methods, evangelistic means and travel have changed, but our message
and the commission of the risen Christ remains the same, “All authority in heaven and on earth has
been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have
commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt. 28:18-20).
God’s heart still beats for the lost and God still calls His people to serve, with His associated
promise to go with them.
New Challenges in Mission…
The 21st century has brought new mission challenges. The Church in the UK and across the world
has changed. Cross-cultural mission is no longer unidirectional, from the West to the East, or from
the Global North to the Global South. The task of mission is increasingly complex, with security,
secularism and Islam influencing mission methods today. We must constantly consider how mission
is carried out, and ensure that we are agile and relevant in our generation.
…and New Opportunities in Mission
While we affirm that the call of God on the life of an individual is essential, there can be barriers
to mission involvement. For example, some think mission is only possible through a long-term
commitment. Many situations demand this but others do not. Dentists Paul and Beth Brind
(see Feb. ’15 Echoes p65) partnered with the Tanzanian health authority for three years, training
village dental practitioners and reaching out to them as they did so.
Others rule out a mission involvement for themselves, feeling that serving the Lord is ‘only about
preaching’. In mission activity the ultimate goal is to see new life in Christ, but there are many
means by which God brings people to Himself. As a new organisation we will seek to highlight new
models of mission and in doing so attempt to reduce such barriers to service, showing that every
Enthusiastic About Missions: Sending New Generations
The work of mission today stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before. As we step into the future, we will continue to encourage the type of work which has previously been done. We will seek to encourage more Christians to be involved in mission and address the realities of mission today. Interlink and Echoes of Service Trustees have agreed a shared vision:
‘To see churches enthusiastic about mission, sending new generations of workers into diverse models of gospel ministry.’
To this end we will strive.
The values of the new organisation are:
• to be biblically based and dependent on God
• to recognise the central role of the local church in mission
• to encourage mission across cultures and generations;
We recognise the diversity of mission and the cross-generational call of God on the lives of individuals. We will seek to encourage mission involvement for all people and age groups
• to value the role of indigenous Christians;
We recognise the need to partner with and work in harmony alongside the national church, respecting their role and, as necessary, their primary contribution to the mission task
• to pursue excellence in our stewardship of people and finance;
We will continue to provide support and care for mission workers and staff, administering the finance which the Lord sends to us through His people, with integrity and transparency, recognising that the finance is His and not ours.
Interlink & Echoes of Service:
In prayerfully thinking through our future, a fresh, contemporary identity has been agreed. We wanted a name that would reflect the coming together of our two organisations. The name ‘Interlink’ reflects the commitment to internationally link those sending with those serving through prayer and other means. This desire to have a global reach is reflected in the new name. Research made it apparent that the name ‘Echoes’ is recognised as a global brand within our church circles. Independently, two companies recommended that to abandon the name ‘Echoes’ would be detrimental, given the desire to have an international rather than a regional or local focus. Therefore, the name of the new organisation will be Echoes International, with a logo which has the gospel at its heart.
A New Logo to Reflect Our Purpose
The new logo of Echoes International is a visual representation of John 3:16 – the heart of the gospel. God’s heart for the world, expressed through the work of Christ on the Cross, is visible in the logo. You will notice it also shows an incomplete globe, a world in which millions have yet to hear. This is our task.
Raising Up a New Mission Generation
With the Lord’s help and in dependence on Him, Echoes International will take up the challenge of seeing a new mission generation raised up, by highlighting new models of mission and encouraging more mission engagement.
Through our combined experience and relationships, we will strive to connect churches and individuals with the needs of mission today and tomorrow. We will intentionally promote a broad range of opportunities for service, both short and long-term. For those with a heart to serve cross-culturally at home or abroad, we will work with them and the elders of their fellowships to help facilitate such service.
May Christ Be Preached!
Our new future is a future together: together with God; together with local churches; together with indigenous brothers and sisters in other parts of the world; and together with you. And so we move forward with joy, a joy not based on circumstances or on our own success, but on the finished work of Christ and the commitment of God to reach the nations for Himself. We ask you to join us in the task.
The Apostle Paul’s heart is ours. ‘…for what we preach is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.’ (2 Cor. 2:5).