Introduction

As a result of his belief in an intelligent evil having a destructive influence on God's good creation, and in honor of his first wife who died of cancer in 2001, Ralph Winter founded the Roberta Winter Institute (RWI) to explore God's will for humanity in relation to the troubling realities of disease and evil. Winter devoted much of the final decade of his life to the RWI, seeing disease eradication and our response to evil in general as overlooked frontiers in mission. The institute seeks to mobilize believers to discover and address the origins of disease, thereby destroying the works of the devil and glorifying God. 

Vision and Mission

Vision: We envision a world in which believers establish disease eradication initiatives to demonstrate God's character and empower our witness.

Mission: To champion the cause of disease eradication for the glory of God.

History

Though the RWI was founded in 2001, the thinking behind it began 40 years earlier when Ralph and Roberta worked among an Indian tribe in the mountains of Guatemala. Grinding poverty and illness plagued the Indians and prompted Ralph to reflect on the connection between disease and God’s will for humanity.

Roberta with the Mam Indians, Guatemala 1956In the years that followed—especially the years after Roberta’s death—he wrote extensively about disease, evil in the world, and God’s desire to restore his creation. He felt so strongly that these ideas would lead to more openness to the gospel and breakthroughs in theology and disease eradication that he established the RWI for further exploration and advocacy. 

From 2001 until his death in 2009, Ralph lectured and wrote frequently about the RWI (in Mission FrontiersInternational Journal of Frontier Missions, and elsewhere). In 2006 he convened a meeting at the Techny Towers Conference Center near Chicago to discuss all the possible ways the RWI could move forward. The conference was attended by prominent cross-cultural workers, physicians, scientists and pastors.

In May of 2010 Brian Lowther was named director, a builder to add to this foundation. In Brian's tenure he has worked to define the core message of the RWI in a way that will help a large, general audience connect with the RWI's mission and make it their own. 

Though its founder passed away in 2009, the work of the Roberta Winter Institute continues with fresh conviction and vision.

Why the Roberta Winter Institute exists

Evangelism becomes weak and lacks credibility if it does not generate committed believers who will tackle the world’s problems.

To destroy the works of the devil is one major way in which our testimony of word and deed can glorify the true nature of our living God, our heavenly father. It is not an alternative to evangelism; it will make our evangelism more credible. It is to rectify our God’s damaged reputation. It is to avoid extending the implicit and embarrassing policy of almost constantly misrepresenting Him in our mission work around the world. Attacking the roots of disease is part and parcel of our basic mandate to glorify God in all the earth.

It is truly astonishing how much greater we can make the impact of our missionary evangelism if the true spectrum of concern of our loving God is made clear and is backed up by serious attention not only to treating illness but to eradicating the evil causes, the works of the devil.

Ralph D. Winter

What we believe

The Roberta Winter Institute embraces:

Our Goals

  1. Work toward a theology of disease
  2. Publish resources
  3. Hold gatherings to share the vision and rationale of the RWI in a way that will help a large, general audience connect with our mission and make it their own.
  4. Establish a society of interested medical practitioners, researchers, theologians and others to investigate and discuss evidence of an intelligent evil having a destructive influence on God's good creation and the implications that notion would have on disease eradication efforts.
  5. Inspire the establishment of research institutes devoted to the eradication of disease. 

Our Worldview

  1. God is the Lord of history, but we are locked in a cosmic struggle.  
  2. God reveals himself, but an intelligent evil power distorts both general and special revelation and all of God’s handiwork. God did not create or intend evil, but He created spirit and human beings with free will who chose to use their free will to rebel against Him.  
  3. God desires humans to work with Him as agents in history for His purposes in defeating evil. 
  4. On the basis of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God defeats evil and redeems and restores humanity and creation. 

Why Eradication?

Of the biggest problems facing mankind today, we can thank God for the many earnest believers who are working to overcome poverty, illiteracy, political corruption, spiritual darkness and other works of the devil. But what about disease? Following Christ’s example down through the ages Christians have devoted tremendous efforts to treating and caring for the sick, even curing disease. But the question remains as to why the Church has not attempted to eradicate the sources of any disease. Ralph Winter would say, “If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, a tenth of an ounce of eradication is even more crucial.” He often used this analogy: 

It’s like walking through a sniper’s alley with a bulletproof vest on. The vest (prevention) will protect you from the sniper, but only so much. If you get hit, you’ve got to get the medic to remove the bullet and stitch you up (treatment/cure). But the most crucial objective is to eliminate the sniper (eradication). 
Are there any Christian organizations who are attempting—in the name of Christ—to combat disease at its origins? In all of our research on this subject, we have never found one. This is the niche the RWI hopes believers will populate and the motivation behind our mission.