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GMI World
A Publication of Global Mapping International

Serving Evangelical Ministry Leaders Around the World

Spring 2001


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Best Practices

Ron Rowland personifies best practices in mission research

Ron Rowland recently retired from GMI's Board of Directors after eight years of faithful service. GMI expresses gratitude to Summer Institute of Linguistics for allowing him to share his expertise in the ministry of GMI.

In the world of data, technology, and ideas, we don't often stop to focus on a single individual. But this time, we celebrate a man who for many years has personified "best practices" in mission research.

A native of Wales, Ron Rowland, with his wife and four children, have been career members of Wycliffe Bible Translators and Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). They served as field missionary linguists and Field Leaders in Ghana for 14 years, followed by four years as director in UK. Then SIL asked Ron to become their international vice president for personnel for seven years.

It was in his following leadership role, however, that we at GMI first met Ron. In the mid-1980s, he was integrally involved in the comprehensive process of strategic planning and review for SIL's language programs around the world. As head of their strategic information office, he oversaw the development of SIL's central information research for executive decision-making.

Ron went on to serve as SIL's top leader in the Language Mapping Project, a 15-year cooperative program between SIL and GMI to map out all the language groups in the world-some 7000 separate languages.

This project has provided the essential foundation for many strategic mission tools, including the Status of Global Evangelization wall map, the 500-page The Peoples of the World published by Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse, the Global Ministry Mapping System CD-ROM, and countless international mission maps. It is at the core of GMI's latest CD-ROM, PeoplesFile.

For years, Ron carried active leadership roles in SHARE Fellowship, the network of evangelical ministries committed to sharing strategic mission information. He developed the Information Sharing Handbook, a landmark guide to the protocols and procedures for inter-organizational sharing of information, and the Missions Mapping Handbook, an introduction for executives and managers in international Christian ministry.

He founded and led the extensive Peoples Information Network (PIN), devoted to collaboration in the research, sharing and publication of information and coding systems for the world's people groups. One of its major contributions was the Registry of Peoples and Languages (ROPAL), used by many international mission groups as their standard classification system for people group information.

With the growth of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement, Ron oversaw the integration of PIN and ROPAL into AD2000's peoples information track. In this context, he was involved in yet another strategic initiative, the collaborative online database project Advancing World Evangelization (AWE). Later, as Ron began to pull back from some leadership responsibilities, he encouraged the integration of AWE into the Harvest Information System (HIS), now run by a consortium of mission agencies.

Ron has always epitomized the visionary servant leader-always looking strategically ahead; always working unselfishly and collaboratively with others; always with an uncompromising passion for excellence; always with the highest integrity; always with a gentle, genuine spirituality, calling those around him to a more biblical lifestyle; always the wise mentor to others. His character and work style have been used of God for tremendous impact throughout the evangelical mission world.

What a privilege it has been for GMI to have Ron Rowland serving on our Board of Directors for the past eight years, six as Chairman. With his recent retirement, he now carries the title Director Emeritus. If you like GMI today, thank Ron Rowland. He has greatly helped to shape who we are and what we stand for.

GMI Recommends

World Christian Encyclopedia

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