Jewish Journal

Ralph D. Winter, Christian missionary, dies

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 24, 2009 | 5:53 pm

Ralph D. Winter was one of America’s most influential evangelicals. Not to be confused with fellow Christian Ralph Winter, the producer of, most notably, the “X-Men” films, the elder winter was founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission. He died Wednesday after fighting melanoma and lymphoma. He was 84.

The Christian Post offers an appreciation:

His list of achievements includes founding a mission think tank, a university, and a mission society. But arguably his greatest contribution to the world of mission and what he is best known for is his ground-breaking 1974 presentation at the Congress for World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland.

It was at this legendary summit, convened by American evangelist Billy Graham, where Winter introduced the term “unreached people groups” that had the profound effect of shifting the entire global mission strategy thereafter.

The phrase “unreached peoples” was first defined by Winter as a people group that had less than a certain percentage of Christians. Later, it was redefined as a group of people with their own distinct culture or language that does not have a viable indigenous evangelizing church movement.

Winter, who was previously a missionary with his wife Roberta in Guatemala for ten years, argued that cross-cultural evangelism is urgently needed because more than half of the people in the world who are not Christian are people who cannot be reached any other way except by pioneer missionary techniques.

The presentation of “unreached people groups” is hailed as a milestone event in missiology.

“Dr. Ralph Winter was perhaps the most influential person in missions of the last 50 years and has influenced missions globally more than anyone I can think of,” said Dr. Ray Tallman, professor of missiology at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and Olivet University in San Francisco, to The Christian Post on Thursday.

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