In addition to Dr. Ralph Winter being a man of many ideas, he was a man of many interests. He enjoyed studying a wide variety of subject areas even though his primary focus was to see if he could make connections to God and his mission in the world in each case. He and his first wife Roberta were members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and they were involved in a couple of groups called Presbyterians United for Biblical Concerns (PUBC) and Presbyterians United for Mission Advance (PUMA). Roberta more so than Dr. Winter frequently participated in the meetings of these groups and was asked to speak sometimes. In the mid-1980s, the daughter of the executive director of PUMA was Dr. Winter’s secretary at the U.S. Center for World Mission.
Right after Christmas in 1985, a letter came in the mail from PUMA informing the Winters about the first Mission Education Day of 1986. The theme is “Mobilizing Youth and Young Adults in Mission.” The top of the letter reads, “We want to affirm the positive contribution youth are now making in the church’s mission and catch a fuller vision of what God has in store for the future among Presbyterian congregations in the Bay Area.” Anyone who works with youth or has experience with them is invited to attend, and the speakers have involvement in both mission and youth in their ministries. The Winters are asked to spread the word about this Mission Education Day at their church and to neighboring Presbyterian churches with people who may be interested.
The keynote address is entitled “World Changing Vision.” The morning workshops cover the topics of resources for summer ministries, involving high school students and young adults in mission, and how to introduce mission in the Sunday Church School. After lunch is a session with the title “Life Changing Experiences in Mission” featuring “four cameo testimonies from young adults in the Bay Area.” The day concludes with practical next steps to be carried out and small group prayers.
There was much fundraising for Dr. Ralph Winter and his staff to do to pay off the campus of the former Pasadena Nazarene College which became the U.S. Center for World Mission and William Carey International University. The task was to raise $15 million dollars, and the group with the grace of God accomplished this in twelve years. Just as Dr. Winter invited many to give toward the cause of mission over the years, he also was called on to give financial gifts periodically. One of these times was by the seminary he graduated from with his Master of Divinity in 1956, Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey.
Dr. Winter received a letter from the 1984 Alumni Roll Call representative at Princeton who graduated in his same class. The salutation reads “Dear Classmate.” The writer says he is finishing his fourth year as class steward and is inviting alumni to participate in the annual Roll Call. He points out that it has been 28 years since the class of 1956 graduated from Princeton. He states, “The history of our class would be fascinating to assemble: Some have made their way into special ministries [as Dr. Winter did by being a missionary, mission history professor and founder or a mission organization and an international development university]; some are no longer in the ministry; some have continued in the pastorate; but all of us have reasons to be thankful for the outstanding training received from our alma mater.”
The writer proceeds to invite the letter’s recipients to give a financial gift to the seminary for the year, as an expression of thanks to God for what Princeton gave to them and in order to bless the current students being trained for ministry. The gifts, he continues, communicate to the president and the faculty that alumni support their ministries. The writer thanks all who have contributed yearly to the Alumni Roll Call and encourages all who have not to please give and join together with others “in support of a great seminary.” He closes with a God bless all in their ministries and gratefully.
There is a biographical page about Dr. Ralph D. Winter that was written in 1978 to introduce him to the public following his founding of the United States Center for World Mission. It is entitled “Meet the Director.” A few sentences could be identified as lesser known facts about Dr. Winter that do not appear in the major biographical sketches about him. He was involved in Youth for Christ as a youngster. After graduating from college with his B.S. in Engineering, he taught at Westmont College for one year. As a result of him attending the first Urbana meeting in Toronto, “he helped organize a pioneer non-professional missionary effort to Afghanistan.”
When Dr. Winter was serving on the mission field in western Guatemala among the Mayan Indians, he was the Executive Secretary of the Latin American Association of Theological Schools, Northern Region. In 1967 Dr. Donald McGavran invited him to join the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission and he was one of only three professors then, with Dr. McGavran (the founding dean) and Dr. Alan Tippett originally from Australia. He founded the American Society of Missiology during his Fuller years and it was the first society in the United States devoted to the study of missions. Dr. Winter contributed articles regularly to Christian magazines like Eternity and Christianity Today. He also participated in founding groups like the Association of Church Mission Committees (later known as Advancing Churches in Mission Commitment) and the Order for World Evangelization.
During the Fuller years also, Dr. Winter was doing intensive statistical research on the state of world missions and made some disturbing conclusions from it. He discovered that 2.4 billion people, more than 84% of the world’s non-Christians in 1974, were being by-passed by then current Christian outreach. Worse than this, no one had active plans to reach them. These “accusing statistics” led Dr. Winter to found the U.S. Center for World Mission, which is “seeking to focus missions strategy and resources to reach these 2.4 billion forgotten people.”