Interview With Dr. William Wilson: Amsterdam Gathering to Launch Global Effort to Fulfill Great Commission by 2033

Dr. William M. Wilson official headshot
Dr. William M. Wilson official headshot
By Karen LuoJune 20th, 2023

Editor's note: About 2,000 years after Jesus ascended to heaven after the resurrection, Dr. William Wilson, president of Oral Roberts University and chair of the Pentecostal World Fellowship, is leading Empowered21, the worldwide relational network to mobilize churches and leaders to fulfill the Great Commission by 2033. The Amsterdam 2023 gathering will take place this week to launch a global effort to bring the gospel to every single person at a time (see episode 2 here). In an exclusive interview, Dr. Wilson shares the vision and approach of this movement, inviting Chinese Christians to participate in this worldwide effort. 

China Christian Daily: Can you introduce yourself first?

Dr. William M. Wilson: I'm Doctor William Wilson, president of Oral Roberts University and chair of Empowered21. Oral Roberts University (ORU) is a Christian liberal arts university located in Oklahoma, United States. This year, we have about 6,000 students from 126 nations. There are about 150 different academic programs at ORU under a whole-person philosophy of education. With high academic standards, we are also passionate about our relationship with Christ in a Spirit-empowered environment.

We host a relational leadership network at ORU for the spirit-empowered environment called Empowered21. Empowered21 started in 2010 and became the largest relational network in the history of Spirit-filled Christianity. It represents 650 to 700 million people in the world and is the fastest-growing Christian or religious movement in the world. We will host Amsterdam 2023, a three-day conference and one-day stadium event on June 21–24, 2023, in Amsterdam, featuring influential leaders and speakers gathered to launch a decade of evangelism to get the gospel to every person on earth by 2033.

I also serve as the chair of the Pentecostal World Fellowship, which is a service to more of the historic traditional Pentecostal churches as well.

China Christian Daily: What is Amsterdam 2023? What is special about this conference?

Dr. William M. Wilson: The year 2033 is the 2000-year anniversary of the death of Jesus on the cross, the resurrection of Jesus, the giving of the Great Commission, and Pentecost recorded in Acts 2. What we will be doing in Amsterdam is launching a ten-year initiative for world evangelization so that every person on earth will have an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit by Pentecostal 2033. Our prayer is that it will be the most significant decade of the Great Commission effort in the history of Christianity to bring the good news of Jesus to every single person on earth. We believe this is possible, but it'll happen one person at a time.

More than 6,000 people are registered from 130 nations, mostly leaders, and are coming together to talk about new ways of sharing the good news of Jesus in the 21st-century context. The first three days will be conducted at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre, and the last day's event featuring each continent of the globe will be in Olympic Stadium, anticipating 20,000 to 30,000 participants. There will be worship on every continent and prayer for the unreached peoples. The conclusion of that day will serve as a pivotal moment to commission all those present in the stadium and those watching online, encouraging them to join the decade-long Great Commission effort. We'll have general sessions and workshops that will be translated into Chinese, and we want the Chinese Church to feel a full part of the body of Christ as we unite together toward 2033.

China Christian Daily: Speaking of a decade of Great Commission effort, the World Evangelical Alliance reported about the 2033 Commitment on January 20. What is the 2033 commitment?

Dr. William M. Wilson: In December 2022, we convened about 23 top leaders from around the world in New York City to talk about 2033. Out of that, we wrote a commitment called the 2033 Commitment. Leaders from over 75 nations have now signed this commitment to make this next decade the most significant and substantial decade of the Great Commission effort in the history of Christianity. We believe, personally and corporately, that the greatest injustice of our generation is that there are millions of people who still don't know the good news of Jesus, but we have the resources, technology, personnel, and even finances to rectify this injustice. We're all committing our resources, passion, and efforts toward this great decade of reaching people for Jesus Christ together. We anticipate there will be hundreds of 2033 initiatives across the church. I want to personally challenge the Chinese church to think about what you will do as you head toward 2033, both in the family churches there as well as the official churches.

China Christian Daily: What do you believe needs to occur within the next decade to fulfill the Great Commission by 2033? What is the role of Chinese churches in this movement?

Dr. William M. Wilson: I was away in the mountains about a year and a half ago, praying for about a week or two to just seek God. I was asking the Lord, “How could we ever possibly reach 8 billion people on planet Earth?” It would take over a hundred years for anybody to even count to a billion. I really believe the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “This will happen one person at a time, and as we focus on reaching one, God will help us reach everyone.”

In Jesus’ ministry, we know that Jesus ministered to the masses, fed over 5000, and preached the Sermon on the Mount to a large crowd. However, he also often focused on one person, and by reaching them, he unlocked entire areas. For instance, Jesus preached to a Gadarenese who had a legion of demons possessing him. It was the only person he reached on a trip all the way across the sea of Gallery. But he sent the man home with the testimony of what Jesus had done for him. Many people were reached because Jesus reached one.

The same is true with the woman of Samaria at the well, who opened up a harvest in Samaria. We see this pattern in Scripture, where God helps the church reach one another. So my call for churches around the world, including the Chinese church, is to personalize the Great Commission. The heart of God is to reach individuals and people who go to heaven, one person at a time, who don't go to heaven as families, communities, cities, or nations.

I think the Chinese Church has a big role to play in this effort over the next decade. Obviously, India and China are the two most populated nations, and Chinese people are all over the world. The Chinese are exceptional at technology, hardworking, and industrious. I love the Chinese people and have been to China many times. I just got back from an astounding trip last month. I had a young lady find Jesus on the trip again, focusing on the one that we might reach everyone. Evangelism in China can’t be in public squares, stadiums, or mass crusades; right now, it's one person at a time. So my prayer is that the Chinese church will be greatly mobilized to share the good news of Jesus with every person that they can find.

China Christian Daily: From your perspective, how can global leaders across denominations collaborate together?

Dr. William M. Wilson: The Holy Spirit is bringing us together in very significant ways. In the 20th century, we had many organizations, denominations, and movements formed all over the world, but the 21st century is about relationships. Relational networks are forming across denominational, geographical, language, and socioeconomic barriers. The Holy Spirit is lifting us up to a new place of unity. When we look at Jesus’ prayer in John 17, we see that first of all, unity must be relational, like the relationship of the Trinity. Jesus prayed, “Father, make them one as you and I are one.”

The unity is relational, missional, and spiritual. First of all, we need a relationship with one another—loving one another, serving one another, humbling ourselves to one another, and being in a relationship. This is happening all over the world. Second, Jesus’ kind of unity must be missional. Jesus said, “God, make them one so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” When we come together in unity, it is a testimony to the world that God sent Jesus as our savior. All of the networks that God has allowed us to lead are great, but relationships must turn into missions. In other words, we need to do something together. Third, unity must be spiritual. Jesus prayed in John 17: “God, I'm giving them the glory that you gave to me that they may be one.” The Holy Spirit is at work, bringing us together across denominations and all kinds of barriers and working to unite the Church for this final thrust at world evangelization in our generation.

China Christian Daily: Will you hold gatherings in this decade regularly to check the progress of this campaign?

Dr. William M. Wilson: In Empowered21, we have 14 regional teams under the direction of capable leadership cabinets all over the world. We anticipate that over the next five to six years, every region of the world will have an “everyone” meeting there. In the context of that continent, they'll be talking about, “How do we reach everyone on this continent with the good news?” Our next large gathering will be in 2028, and then we anticipate, in 2033, having a mega gathering of celebration in Jerusalem to commemorate the 2000-year anniversary of the Day of Pentecost.

China Christian Daily: Do you have any words for the Chinese church?

Dr. William M. Wilson: My recent visit to China was with the more registered churches. I love the people of China, and Chinese Christianity continues to grow. There continues to be a great passion and a great need for ministers in the Chinese Church. Pastors, youth leaders, and teachers that are educated in God's word and know the power of the Holy Spirit are needed to be back together to help the Chinese church mature and grow in new waves. The roots and seeds planted by Hudson Taylor and many others are continuing to flourish and grow under the surface in China.

I think that Chinese Christians should focus on the main thing: reaching others for Jesus Christ again. If you focus on the main thing, which is reaching others for Jesus, God will bless the Chinese church in exponential ways. Our hearts are with you. The world is praying for the church in China, that God will strengthen, motivate, and mobilize you for His kingdom.

We hope you can be with us in Amsterdam, but if not, hopefully, you can be with us online, and know that we are praying for you every single day. We have another initiative in Empowered21, a global prayer line that is working on praying for every person in the world by name. One of the things the Chinese Church can do is pray for the people in your community by name and believe that God will touch them.

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