You can't read or watch the news this week without seeing continual media tribute to three notable entertainers who passed away in the past few days: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Ed McMahon. But today in Pasadena, California, a memorial service is being held for a true giant in my eyes, Dr. Ralph D. Winter, who passed away last month at the age of 84. Most of you have never heard of him, but his name has been a very familar and welcome one to me for about 25 years. Who is he? Dr. Winter was the founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission and William Carey International University, and co-founded several other mission organizations. His research and strategizing in the field of world evanglization has been crucial. He was truly a man who lived and breathed for the Kingdom of God, and he has received his eternal reward.
You can read more about him on the Mission News Network blog (which feeds into my Google reader because I want to keep up on what is going on) or on the U.S. Center for World Missions tribute page. The latter site links to many resources related to Ralph Winter, including multimedia presentations, and tributes from Chuck Colson and John Piper.
Here is a brief excerpt from his obituary:
John Piper, author of Desiring God and Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church (Minneapolis, MN), commented, “Ralph Winter was probably the most creative thinker I have ever known. On any topic you brought up, he would come at it in a way you never dreamed of. This meant that stalemates often became fresh starting points.” Likewise, Dale Kietzman, a professor at William Carey International University, noted, “He was constantly thinking outside the box. He did this to such an extent that you weren’t sure what the box was anymore.” C. Peter Wagner, a colleague at Fuller Seminary, has
observed, “History will record Ralph Winter as one of the half-dozen men who did most to affect world evangelism in the twentieth century.”
May God raise up more visionary men and women to take his place! There is nothing on this earth more important than knowing and then spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.