I recently wrote this short history of our campus, known by many as the U.S. Center for World Mission . Based in Pasadena, CA the campus has a rich history and legacy.
Part of my role has been to anchor our organization in that legacy while looking to the horizon for a new generation.
I hope you enjoy the story. It is a story of the intersection of intercession, faith, and missions.
The land on which this campus sits was once known as the Hugus Ranch. It was owned by one of the wealthiest men in Pasadena, rancher and business man John Hugus. He sold the land to the newly formed Nazarene denomination.
This campus was officially founded in 1910 and came to be known as the Nazarene University, later to be known as Pasadena College. The auditorium was completed in 1944. A.E. Spanner chronicles its amazing history in the book The Key Works.
In 1973, the Pasadena College was relocated to Point Loma in San Diego. The campus remained up for sale for the next three years and was said to have received over 200 offers for purchase, but no one was able to obtain it.
Erik Stadell, the Missionary Intercessor
In 1974, God sent a Swedish man to Pasadena to attend Fuller Seminary. He needed a home to rent for he and his family and was offered a place near the campus by one of his professors. This man’s name was Erik Stadell. He was an intercessor and would frequently take prayer walks around the campus; admiring its beauty and wondering what God might do with this place.
While on one of his walks, he passed a small prayer chapel in the middle of the campus and was allowed to enter by a security guard. As he prayed, he was arrested by the Holy Spirit in prayer and did not leave the chapel for a whole week. He emerged “absolutely certain” that the campus would become a “center for world mission” and could not be used for any other purpose.
Ralph Winter, the Missionary Activist
As the same time, Dr. Ralph D. Winter, a Pasadena native and former pioneer missionary to the Mam people of Guatemala, was teaching in Fuller seminary’s newly formed School of World Mission. In 1974, he was invited to address global leaders at Billy Graham’s Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization. In his presentation, he demonstrated the reality that there were still thousands of ethnic people groups completely cut off from any current outreach efforts.
A Collaborative Center
Upon returning to Pasadena, Winter felt that he must act to get the message out about these “hidden peoples.” He began to think of the idea of a collaborative center for world mission that would wave a banner for the last remaining unreached people groups. His desire was to bring together many different groups to work on the problem and find new solutions for breakthrough. He saw the campus as a place for “prototypes, experiments, and movements” that would impact the unreached.
Risking It All
Winter risked his reputation and his livelihood and stepped out with only $100 to his name to purchase the campus. God gave him favor and he obtained the right to purchase. He began raising funds through a small gift campaign where he encouraged people to give a $15.95 gift to help purchase the campus.
Awakening A Generation
By purchasing the campus, his primary goal was to awaken 1 million evangelicals in America to the cause of the unreached peoples. Through the hard work and sacrifice of many, young and old, his dream became a reality. Before his death in 2009, he was name by TIME magazine as one of the top 25 evangelicals in America.
The dramatic story of the founding of the U.S. Center for World Mission and the impact it has had on the world can be read in the book I Will Do A New Thing by Roberta Winter. (Now available on Kindle)
A New Day
Over the last couple of years, fresh collaborative partnerships have formed on the campus with the aim of seeing a missions renewal movement focused on the last remaining frontiers of God’s global mission emerge for a new generation.