I am grateful to Thomas Whelan (writing in the BIAMS journal) for correcting a misunderstanding I have had for at least 30 years! Like a lot of other people, I suspect, I have always thought that the catch phrase from the Student Volunteer Movement of 1886, "the ezangelisation of the world in this generation" meant that the world would be converted to Christian faith within the current generation - an aspiration which has been behind many mission movements, not least the pre-millennium movements like AD2000. (Of course it didn't happen, so what do you make of that?) Apparently it never meant that in the first place - it meant "the proclamation of the gospel by each generation throughout the entire world". I like that. Why? Because its far more Biblical for a start. It reflects the call on each Christian to 'live like Christ', 'to bear witness', 'to proclaim good news' .... to be faithful in these things and leave the converting to God (if that's what He wants!)
Thank you Thomas, its always great to have fresh light on a well known phrase - especially when it fits in so well with what I already thought must be right. There always was too much in scripture about leaven, mustard seeds, remnants and suffering for me to really grasp the 'everyone on board in the next sixty years' vision. Now I can get on with the witness and proclaiming and leave the converting to God - that's challenge enough for me!