On May 21, 2009, at 9:05 am, my teacher Ralph Winter died at the age of 84 years and went to eternal rest with the Lord to whom he had dedicated his life.
The first time I worked with him was in 1980 at a missions conference in Edinburgh. As a freshly baked student I joined in on the new international missions movement. This was a movement which originated at the 1974 Lausanne Congress and was meant to be a renewal of efforts toward unreached peoples. We founded the German Center for World Mission, following the US Center for World Mission and in affiliation with the European Hidden People Study Group of the Center for World Mission Network. At the same time, we leapt into ethnology, cultural anthropology and linguistics. The German Center later led to the Martin Bucer Seminary.
It was from Winter that I was shaped for missiology, my interest in a comprehensive study of cultural anthropology, but also for his specialty, alternative theological training.
The times spent cooperating with his US Center for World Mission, my time as a doctoral advisor at his William Carey International University, and working together on the International Journal for Frontier Mission which he initiated, are all unforgettable. The visits to Pasadena were always far too short to take in all the stimulation that this tireless spirit uninterruptedly spewed forth. One had the feeling that the older Winter became, the more innovative he also became. It is amazing to think about what he started. And he was continually in the process of rethinking everything and seeking improvement. Who will be his successor?