Dr. Avery Willis Jr. listens as Dr. Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, tells how Willis' vision, focus and passion have…" />

Willis Honored by Global Missions Leaders

ontent/article_pics/obu_jerryrankin.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="300" /> </td></tr><tr><td><font size="1">Dr. Avery Willis Jr. listens as Dr. Jerry Rankin, </font><font size="1">president of the International Mission Board, </font>

<font size="1">tells how Willis' vision, focus and passion have </font>

<font size="1">positively affected the board's work. </font></td></tr></tbody></table>

Rankin said Willis possessed a vision which was unsurpassed as he visualized an entire world worshipping Jesus Christ, a focus which kept the IMB from being diverted by trivial pursuits, and a passion that enables Willis to motivate and inspire others. He said, like Abraham, Willis never lived for selfish gain but was willing to sacrifice so everyone may come to faith in Christ.

After retiring to Bella Vista, Ark., Willis has continued active work in missions, traveling internationally approximately 25 weeks per year. He has served as a consultant to the Southern Baptist Convention's Great Commission Task Force. He also has served as a consultant to missionaries, as well as chairman of Epic Partners, a coalition of global missionary organizations, including the IMB, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Campus Crusade for Christ and Youth With A Mission.

Willis said despite the success of MasterLife aiding people around the world in discipleship, he has realized the materials do not reach the world's oral learners, noting 70 percent of the world's population is functionally illiterate. He currently is executive director of the International Orality Network, a partnership of major missions organizations committed to using oral strategies such as "chronological Bible storying" as a means of evangelizing and discipling oral learners. Willis said his heart to reach the functionally illiterate now focuses also on North America and the 80 million people who don't speak English at home.

"For some reason, God began to turn my heart toward home," Willis said.

Because less than half of Americans read proficiently, Willis said efforts to make disciples of Christ miss an entire population segment. People who cannot read will not feel comfortable in a traditional church setting, he said. But he believes God has given him a vision to reach these people, too.

"How are you going to stand before God and say,  We did everything we could to reach these people for Christ?'" he asked. "I am more excited about what God is about to do than I was about MasterLife. I have a deep conviction God is about to do a mighty work."

Willis said he hopes to see more of that work here on earth, rather than viewing it from a heavenly perspective. He asked people to continue to pray for a cure for leukemia, but also to catch a vision of how to join God at work.

"What do we do with the days we have left - whether we are gray-haired or just beginning to shave?" he said. "What are you going to do to make disciples of all nations?"<br />

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