Partners International, originally China Native Evangelistic Crusade (CNEC), was born out of a conversation between a lay leader, four businessmen, and a missionary to China. Meeting in a Seattle living room in 1943, they agreed that if China was to be reached with the Gospel, the work would have to be done by Chinese Christians.
At the time, the idea was remarkable: that indigenous believers could be entrusted with the resources to do God's work.
Our first partnership was with a gifted Chinese evangelist, Calvin Chao, and his "preaching bands" that took the gospel into China's interior. Since then, that one extraordinary partnership has led to hundreds of partnerships in more than 50 countries.
It wasn't until March 1960 that Partners International decided to hire its first paid, full-time director. Allen Finley was hired from his position as west coast director of International Students. Under his leadership from 1960 to 1987, the organization grew from a "one file drawer, one desk ministry" into a multi-national, multi-partner ministry.
During this time our name was changed to Christian Nationals Evangelism Commission (still abbreviated CNEC), reflecting a global outreach into other regions of Asia and to Africa, Latin America, and Europe. From 1960 to 1987, Allen helped define and deepen our commitment to national Christians as the most effective way to reach their countrymen for Christ. During this time, Allen's vision sparked a major philosophical shift in missions as it became evident that national leaders in many countries were becoming the frontrunners in reaching their nations for Christ. The primary role of Partners International was to come alongside the initiatives of national leaders.
Sister affiliates developed in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The heart of CNEC was to model "the sharing of resources with good results," without extending its structure to the ministries it assisted. In 1985, CNEC changed its name to Partners International to reflect its commitment to global partnership.
After Finley's retirement in 1987, Luis Bush, an Argentinean, former pastor of a large church in El Salvador, and Latin America coordinator for Partners, became president. Under his leadership, Partners gained exposure at international conferences as well as being a strong backer of COMIBAM, a Latin American missions conference and movement. When God led Luis to lead the AD 2000 Movement in 1991, he was succeeded by board member Chuck Bennett, formerly of Mission Aviation Fellowship and Food for the Hungry.
Partners International began a change in ministry focus in 1999 with the appointment of Paul-Gordon Chandler as President/CEO. The board of directors instructed staff to re-examine the purpose and place of Partners International in the global missions movement. The most immediate outcome of that re-examination was a focus on the 10-40 Window.
Paul-Gordon received a call to pastoral ministry in Egypt in 2003, and his successor as President/CEO, Jon Lewis of Mission Aviation Fellowship, received the board's mandate to build on the changes. Jon initiated a wide-ranging discussion about the nature of mission partnership in the 21st century, the external realities affecting partnership, and its biblical basis. (See our Covenant of Partnership).
Larry D. Andrews joined Partners International as President/CEO in February 2013. Leveraging his 27 years of global business experience, Larry’s vision is to significantly improve the operational excellence, effectiveness, and ministry outcomes of Partners International in this next season of ministry. “We exist to seek out and create lasting, meaningful, respectful partnerships with some of the most courageous Christian leaders in the majority world, and to fuel, fund, serve, and support their God-given vision,” he said. “My charter and prayer is to lead us to continually expand our passion, vision, reach, and holistic effectiveness by extending the same passionate 'partner' relationships we have in the hard places of the world with every missional investor that gives their time, talent, and treasure to support our vision for ministry."