Where It All Began
Back in 1943 many different people and experiences came together to bring the vision of WorldShare to reality.
WorldShare began with a vision for China. Duncan McCullum McRoberts, a missionary from Northern Ireland, was witness to the horrors of war in China and this experience filled him with a desire for China to be free to rule themselves and know Christ. When evacuated to North America, he spoke readily in many places of his experiences in China and his vision for a new wave of Christian activity in China. The key element of the vision was that Chinese leaders, not expatriate missionaries, would recruit, select, train, send and direct the workers.
This brought him to the attention of Dr. Nis. Alvin Jepson, a chiropractor and well-known preacher. Through his contacts and the support of McRobert’s father-in-law Fred Savage, China Natives Evangelistic Crusade (CNEC) was born. After the war, a sister-organisation to the Seattle-based CNEC was founded in the UK, in October 1946. This was followed by Australia (1953), Canada (1963) and later Japan (1984). A high percentage of the early WorldShare workers and their disciples were martyred or imprisoned when the Communists came to power. Reports from mid-1951 speak of 62 baptisms in Guizhou and Szechuan, and of blessing amongst the Yi people in Yunnan and on Hainan Island, but things were becoming more difficult. Despite horrific persecution and very many martyrdoms, the Church in China grew numerically during the communist era. This was achieved by the Chinese themselves, dependent not on expatriate missionaries but only on the Holy Spirit. There could be no greater proof that McRoberts' vision was right.
Very soon it was no longer possible to work inside China, so in 1950 Fred Savage was sent to Singapore, Malaya and Thailand to investigate work with Chinese there. CNEC first opened an office in Hong Kong in early 1949, believing that this was a temporary measure to overcome growing communication difficulties in China. By 1952, four churches had been planted amongst the refugees in Hong Kong: at Castle Peak, West End Village, Red Cliff and Chrysanthemum Village. Later, primary and secondary schools were founded, Bibles printed and Christian books published and clinics started. Bible training was offered to those who felt the call to become evangelists and in 1953, CNEC helped to found the Bible Institute of Hong Kong. When contact within China was possible again, after 1979, growth was rapid and eventually, a complex network of partnerships was formed with networks representing many thousands of Chinese churches.
1960 saw many changes as it was becoming evident that the Church in other countries was growing and maturing in the same way. In that year the name was changed to Christian Nationals Evangelism Commission to reflect a concern for the wider world. Fred Savage and his wife retired from the work, and Rev. Allen Finley was appointed as Executive Director. He and his wife Ruth would give over 43 years of service to our organisation. Amongst the first new partners were: ENI/AICA/Ministry of Hope in Liberia, TESCA (later the Instituto Evangelico America Latina) in Guatemala and the Philippines Missionary Institute.
In 1963 – 20 years since its origin - the ministry was assisting 500 Christian workers and sponsoring around 1,500 children. By 1964, CNEC’s partner ministries had planted 110 new churches, including 40 in pre-1949 China. In 1965, the number of children studying in schools assisted by CNEC was 7,000. This grew to 13,500 by 1973. By 1973 the number of Christian workers assisted had grown to 1250. There was work in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Liberia, Mexico, India, Cyprus, Nigeria, Zaire, Zambia, India, Sri Lanka and Brazil.
For CNEC, by 1983, there were 80 separate partner organisations, working in 41 countries.
The UK office moved from Hertfordshire to Chadwell Heath in London and in 1991, to Bawtry Hall in South Yorkshire. In 1987, parts of the global organisation changed its name from Christian Nationals Evangelism Commission to ‘Partners International’ and in 1997, our UK office followed suit by changing to ‘WorldShare’. We moved to our present home, Armstrong House, in 2010. Our partnerships now include ministries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and Central, East, South and Southeast Asia.