by Jim Reapsome
From whatever vantage point you choose to examine it, the evangelical missionary enterprise in the United States is in a vigorous, healthy condition.
From whatever vantage point you choose to examine it, the evangelical missionary enterprise in the United States is in a vigorous, healthy condition. The last ten years have seen remarkable expansion, some of which is documented in this issue. There is no sign we can detect that missions are going out of business.
It is good to take this kind of a positive look on occasion, because we can all remember the various "threats" that have arisen. To name a few: communism and materialism, ecumenism and separatism, the youth revolt, "missionary, go home," the dearth of candidates and the shortage of funds, churches that didn’t care about missions, and Christians that seemed more interested in summer campers than building churches overseas.
In fact, if you go back over the previous 37 issues of this magazine you will find a lot of problems and dangers exposed on these pages. The major impression you get is that we are a worrisome lot and we have a host of obstacles standing in the way of adequate performance on the mission field. These problems seemed to assault us both at home and abroad, so that the missionary enterprise seemed to be forever in a "crisis" or "tension" of some kind.
This is not a Pollyanna editorial. No one can accuse the quarterly of being overly optimistic. But we believe there is a time to stand back and cheer what God has done, in spite of the limitations and inadequacies of those people, churches, institutions and organizations that are involved in missions.
Too often, it seems, the cause of missions has suffered most at the hands of its friends who have projected a defeatist complex. Somewhere there must be the honest projection of praise to our sovereign God, first of all for committing to us the ministry of reconciliation and then for allowing us to plant and water while he gives the increase. Our eyes must be primarily upon him, not upon either the crises or the triumphs.
We believe the people of God need this kind of emphasis today, the biblical image of a church triumphant, even against overwhelming obstacles. We who are involved in missions share Paul’s experience in knowing how to be abased and how to abound ( Phil. 4:12 ). But do we exude Paul’s supreme confidence: "I can do all things in him who strengthens me"?
We are not talking about a good public relations line. We are talking about overcoming a preoccupation with the problems in missions. It is our desire that you will be encouraged in your heart as you read the facts in this issue about what God has done in the past decade.
As we look to the future, we can assure you that we will continue to speak to needs and problems. But as we do so, our goal will be to contribute something positive and helpful to our readers. We want Evangelical Missions Quarterly to be the magazine that missionaries can use. We wish that every missionary, when he sees the quarterly, will say, "That’s for me."
To realize that wish, we need your ideas and your articles. We believe the quarterly can be useful largely to the degree that missionary readers find that it speaks to their needs and interests.
We also need the continuing support and interest of the member missions of the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association and the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association. Without the joint efforts of the men in both associations, there never would have been an EMQ. This periodical is a reflection of a strong desire to work together in the larger cause of missions.
But as we head into our tenth year, there must be a fresh realization that the quarterly is intended for all of the missionaries represented by all the missions in both associations. There is no point in publishing if we do not get the articles into the hands of intended readers. Our circulation figures show that we are not succeeding on this count. To be frank, we should have twice the number of readers we do.
We promise to seek to publish that which will merit the confidence and support of the IFMA-EFMA missions. In return, we hope to see some new steps taken that will help us to enlarge significantly our readership. In the next ten years we want our five talents to produce five more, for the sake of the Master who may call us to account at any moment.
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