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GMI World
A Publication of Global Mapping International

Serving Evangelical Ministry Leaders Around the World

Summer/Fall 2003


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Mission Views and News

What a difference 20 years makes!

IT'S HARD TO GRASP how radically the world of mission research and information sharing has changed during the past two decades. Remember back to 1983?

Strategic mission research was available only at specialized research centers and through expensive books, and was used mostly by a few strategists.

Computers costing $100,000 had far less power than today's PCs. There were no Macintosh or Windows computers; most computers had text display only. There were no notebooks or handhelds, and PCs had 64K of RAM and only floppy disks for storage.

Information sharing between computers was nearly impossible, due to incompatible hardware, software, and data formats. Expensive 9-track magnetic tape and many hours were required to move data between computers.

Graphics were hand-drawn by graphic artists, with mechanical paste-up. Dot matrix printers created low-quality computer graphics, in black ink only.

Maps were painstakingly hand-drawn. Early computer mapping software sold for $120,000 per copy and maps were printed with pen plotters. Missions maps used pushpins and markers. There was no widespread mapping of the world's people groups.

Publishing was mostly by Westerners who could afford to publish, in the form of hardcopy books, distributed to Western audiences. There were no CD-ROMs, DVDs, or web sites.

International communication happened via post. Letters took weeks to arrive. International telephone calls cost dollars per minute. Fax machines and cell phones were not commercially available; there was no email or Internet.

Missions and missiology were dominated by the West; church growth, unreached peoples, and contextualization were the hot new missiological themes. Agencies operated very independently of each other. The 10/40 Window hadn't been invented yet, and few people spoke of urban ministry or social transformation. Nobody had heard of Gen-X or postmodernism.

And that was just 20 years ago! Imagine what we'll see in the next 20 years.

This year, Global Mapping International celebrates 20 years of development.

In 1983, OC International's Director of Research, Bob Waymire, moved his family to the US Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California to begin "global research and mapping."

Initial objectives included:

  • Use high technology to support the Great Commission through development of a computerized database and graphics system, presenting a comprehensive picture of the identity, status, and dynamics of world evangelization; and
  • Put the information into the hands of those who need it.

Today we are amazed at how well those early visionaries saw where we needed to go, as they worked ahead of the technology, claiming it for the Kingdom.

In spite of all that has changed, Global Mapping International is still 100% committed to its original purpose: "to further the evangelization of the peoples of the world." Our mission is still to produce and present world-class research that fuels emerging mission movements and leaders, especially in the Two-Thirds World.

The past two decades have truly been a time of incredible develop-ment in the availability and use of mission research. To God be the glory!

GMI's staff and computer mapping workstations looked significantly different in 1985. Founder Bob Waymire is seated right, current President Mike O'Rear is standing far left, and Cartographer Loren Muelhius is standing center.

Global Mapping International has worked at the intersection of missions, research, and information technology for 20 years.

GMI World       Summer/Fall 2003      Page 1

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