This is a big year for World Outreach. We’re celebrating our 90th anniversary as a Mission Agency. To celebrate this anniversary, we’re going to be looking back at our heritage through our 2022 Nations Issues.
We enthusiastically invite you to join us as we take you on a journey from our humble, faith-filled beginnings to be poised at one of the most pivotal moments in modern day missions
One Man ~ One Vision
I knew I would never be the same again…I came face-to-face with how my life could best count for God.
In 1932, Len J Jones returned to his wife’s birth nation of New Zealand after an absence of five years abroad. He and his wife, Sheila, were still grieving the tragic death of their eldest son, Bedford, who’d died just months before from meningitis, aged just 21.
But 1932 was to become a significant year in the history of World Outreach. Here’s the back story.
Several years before, while Len was pastoring a large church in London, he was asked to lecture Russian and German students in a Bible College in Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland), which, at the time, was a semi-autonomous city-state protected by the League of Nations. Although a difficult decision to make, Len left pastoring and moved to Danzig to lecture. While there, he received an invitation to visit ‘White Russia’ (Belorus- sia), now known as Belarus, where his life and ministry would be radically transformed and a passion for missions was born.
Through the work of an organisation called the Russian and Eastern European Mission (REEM), Len witnessed large numbers of Russians being baptised, and great crowds of people packing into meeting halls to hear God’s word, where services would last four to five hours. Len later wrote, ‘I knew I would never be the same again…I came face-to-face with how my life could best count for God, and my decision was missions, and I have never once questioned that decision.’
Len later wrote, ‘I knew I would never be the same again…I came face-to-face with how my life could best count for God, and my decision was missions, and I have never once questioned that decision.’
Throughout the 20s and early 30s, REEM worked solely in Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Balkans and engaged in evangelism and humanitarian aid. However, the Communist revolution in Russia spread west across Eastern Europe and into Belorus- sia (Belarus), where, as a result of many missionaries, along with national pastors and leaders, being killed, and churches closed, the ministry there abruptly ended.
REEM morphed into the Eastern European Mission (EEM), which for three years concentrated upon displaced Slavic peoples in Western Europe, Great Britain, Canada, South America and Australia. Len was involved in this ministry. In time, as the Slavic people become assimilated into their adopted nations, this work also ceased.
On 31st March, 1932, Len Jones registered the ‘Slavic and Oriental Mission’ (now World Outreach) in New Zealand. An article written at the time of Len’s death in 1974 stated that World Outreach started with ‘nobody but God and nothing but the guidance of God’. From this point, Len travelled extensively to Australia, Great Britain, Canada and, especially, the United States.
After World War Two, opportunities began to increase in the Asia/Pacific region and some African countries. To reflect its growing sphere of ministry, the mission was renamed World Outreach in 1965.
From these early pioneering days, World Outreach began a trajectory of growth and fruitfulness.