by Ruth Tucker
A selection of significant artlcles about missions.
"Nonresidential missionaries." Chinese in North America, 2531 Nina Street, Pasadena, CA 91107.
A new concept in missions today is that of nonresidential missionaries- missionaries whose "mission field" is a country closed to the gospel and whose residence is outside that country. V. David Garrison explains this concept in the July/ August issue of Chinese in North America (published by the Chinese Coordination Center of World Evangelism). In his article, "The Nonresidential Missionary: An Innovation in Mission," he explains that the term was coined in 1986 in Richmond, Va., by a team of missiologists working with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. Concern for those unreached by the gospel prompted the idea, but missions researcher David Barrett readily concedes that "the concept was a product of its time."
As such, the idea is not the property of just one organization or group, and it is identified by different names and emphases, "As the end result of a confluence of factors," writes Garrison, "It occurs whenever certain elements are at play: a) a high level of Christian commitment to fulfill the Great Commission; b) an unprecedented climate for cooperative efforts between Christians; c) the challenge of highly restricted countries and cities which forbid traditional missionary residence; and d) new breakthroughs in information, telecommunications and transportation technologies,"
Is the concept of nonresidential missionary merely a fad? Garrison emphasizes that it is not. While much of the world is opening up due to the fall of communism, other doors are closing, and traditional residential missionaries are frequently forced to leave their place of ministry. "As of 1988, 45 countries in the world could be categorized as highly inaccessible to Christian witness or traditional missionary presence. Within these 45 nations live more than 2,6 billion persons, half of whom have never been given an opportunity to respond to the good news of Jesus Christ."
The nonresidential missionary’s time has come-especially if trends over the past several decades continue. According to Garrison, "from the end of World War II to the present time, countries have closed down or severely restricted missionary work at the rate of about three countries per year."
"Intercultural Marriage." Latin America Mission, P.O. Box 52-79000, Miami, FL 33152-7900.
A controversial topic in mission circles over the generations has been that of intercultural marriage. Indeed, it has been so controversial that some missions have prohibited it- though in some cases the prohibition has applied to the female gender only. How should mission boards and missionaries deal with this issue? Joy Paredes confronts the matter straightforwardly in "Marriage Across Cultures," (Latin America Evangelist, July-September, 1991). Here Joy writes from the perspective of a participant. She has an Anglo-American cultural heritage and is married to Tito, a Peruvian national-the marriage has lasted 20 years.
Joy does not discourage inter-cultural marriage, but does offer warnings and guidelines: "When each partner has been raised in a different environment, problem-solving can prove difficult in such basic areas as: husband-wife roles; the proper use of time and money; family and social relationships; forms of religious worship; and raising of children." Thus, "the inter-cultural marriage has two sets of ground rules, not one…. For this reason, each partner must be willing to discover and understand the other’s worldview."
Another major issue Joy deals with is place of residence: "Be sure you are both willing to live, if necessary, in the country or culture of your partner Ideally, each person should live a short time in the culture of the future spouse and start learning the language and customs before marriage."
Acceptance is the key to a good intercultural marriage, according to Joy. She tells how she has had a greater need for privacy than her husband, who grew up in an extended family with very little privacy. Tito accepts the difference: "he understands and supports me in my need for ‘alone time.’"
Intercultural marriage is more readily accepted today due in part to effective partnerships like that of Joy and Tito Paredes. "Veteran missionaries recall a time when intercultural marriages were frowned on, if not forbidden, by many mission agencies," writes the editor of Latin America Evangelist. "But times have changed -a lot. Latin America Mission, for instance, has at least 18 intercultural married couples in its ranks."
"Kim of Korea." Good News, P.O. Box 150, Wilmore, KY 40390.
It should not surprise most people that the world’s largest Methodist church is in Korea (so also the world’s largest Presbyterian church and the world’s largest Assemblies of God church.) What fuels the flames of this giant church? This is the underlying question Carroll Ferguson Hunt seeks to answer in "Seoul’s Burning Bush: What’s Their Secret?" in the July/August, 1991, issue of Good News (published by the Forum for Scriptural Christianity). The Kwang Lira Church ("Burning Bush" in English) is a 50,000-member church led by Pastor Sundo Kim, who came to the church in 1971, when the membership was less than 200, What is his secret?
Clues to this secret began to emerge as Hunt listened to Pastor Kim in the pulpit on Sunday morning. The message that day was from Malachi 3:7-12, titled "The Important Lessons of Stewardship." Hunt observed "heads drop throughout the auditorium," and wondered, "Has he lost them? Do they resent harangues about money just like we do?" But then Hunt realized that the people were not dozing nor inspecting their fingernails," They were looking up the passage in their Bibles and taking notes. His outline was simple: 1, The Bible teaches us to tithe; 2. Tithing is practical; 3. Tithing brings blessings. "He makes no idyllic prosperity promises to his people, just cites God’s blessing to those who obey Him."
What then is the secret? Kim preaches God’s word and the people believe it and practice it, but for Kim the prayer closet, attached to his office, is more important than the pulpit. "Here is the secret," he says. "I meet God before I meet people." He preaches on prayer like he preaches on tithing and the people believe it and practice it, and the results for themselves. Early-morning and all-night prayer meetings are well-attended. Tithing is generally considered a more touchy issue than prayer, but here again Kim’s church is a model. "Seventy percent of this church’s members tithe-without signing a pledge."
Kim’s success as the pastor of a "super-church" is directly related to world missions. The Kwang Lim Church sends out cross-cultural missionaries and supports ministries around the globe in addition to hosting its own yearly "Vision and Growth Seminar" for church leaders.
"Translating with Drums." Wycliffe Bible Translators, P.O. Box 2727, Huntington Beach,Calif. 92647.
Bible translation work is filled with pitfalls and obstacles, perhaps none more frustrating than to be translating for a tribal group whose village elders have a taboo against reading. In such instances Bible translators have to be more than Bible translators, and so it is with Paul Neeley, whose story is told in the September issue of In Other Words. In an article entitled, "Drummed into their Hearts," Steve Van Rooy tells how Neeley a percussionist, is winning the hearts of the people.
Neeley has been a drummer since the age of 12, but has found few opportunities to reach out in ministry with his drums-at least in North America. But all that has changed since he married and went to Ghana with his wife, who had already served there as a Wycliffe Bible Translator.
"But what would be Paul’ s role? And what of his talent as a drummer? Well, God has a fine sense of putting people in just the right places. The Akyode are ‘into’ drumming. In fact, as is common in West Africa, their rhythms are highly complex. Each drum, bell and rattle plays a different interlocking part at the same time. It has taken Paul quite a while to begin learning the intricate percussive patterns, but he can now drum at the level of an average 12-year-old Akyode boy!"
Neeley’s work is particularly crucial among the Akyode people, because he can reach out to the people with the gospel with his drams and traditional music-and there is no taboo against that. He has already begun translating some of the Psalms that he will introduce to the people through their own drums and music. The Neeleys are praying that by the time they finish their translation of God’s Word, "key concepts and scriptural truths will have drummed their way into the Akyodes’ hearts causing them to dance for joy."
"English Language Teaching as a Ministry." Haggai Institute, P.O. Box 13, Atlanta, Ga. 30370.
In recent years, many Americans have gone abroad to combine teaching English with an evangelistic outreach. But non-Westerners are also using this forum to spread the gospel. Lovely Ai-Kin Ko, an English teacher at Ming Chuan Girls College in Taiwan, has found open doors to ministry and ought to serve as a role model to others. Her story is told in "Teaching English-Communicating Christianity," in H.I. News & Third World Report, 1991, No. 2.
Lovely’s mission field is her classroom. Only 5 percent of Taiwan’s population is Christian; the rest are Buddhists, Taoists, Confucianists, and animists. Her radiant countenance and her obvious joy of living cause her to stand out among her own people, "who live in almost constant fear of the future." According to her, "Temples everywhere are filled with people seeking favors from ancestors, and trying to find security. They are afraid of what tomorrow might bring, so they go to fortune tellers. Charms are important, too. They are given as gifts for new-born babies, and worn throughout life."
In her teaching, Lovely uses English literature that has Christian themes, and she focuses on Christian holidays- particularly Christmas and Easter.
When she is not teaching, Lovely is actively involved in the Evergreen International English-speaking Student Fellowship, a Christian group in Taipei. Here she challenges other English-speaking Chinese students to reach out with the gospel-especially to those who are seeking to perfect their skills in the English language.
"An African George Muller." World Vision, 919 West Huntington Drive, Monrovia, CA 91016.
George Muller was a great nineteenth-century Englishman who is known for depending on God alone to meet the needs of hundreds of children he cared for in his orphanages. David Mutebi is a 20th century George Muller from Africa, Robby Muhumuza tells his story in "The Pastor With 410 Children," in the October-December, 1991, issue of Together. Mutebi is 31 and has only one child of his own, but he cares for 409 others because no one else will. He is the director of the Kibale Orphans Home in the Rakai district of Uganda, and all his children have parents who have died, or are dying, of AIDS.
Mutebi started the home in 1987, when he was serving as the pastor of a local church. "It all started," he recalls, "when two couples in my church died of AIDS, leaving 12 helpless young orphans with nobody to take care of them," But Mutebi soon discovered that there were many more than these 12 who needed homes. As he and his evangelism team reached out to the people of Rakai, "they were confronted with hordes of orphaned children whose parents had died of the AIDS scourge….Word quickly spread about the benevolent preacher who was taking in AIDS orphans, and soon more orphans were arriving on Mutebi’s doorstep."
The orphanage is not a fancy complex. It consists of two matched-roofed buildings-one of them originally built to serve as the church, but now utilized for more pressing needs. The children work in the gardens, carry water and fire wood, and prepare the food, but despite their help and the contributions from church members, supplies are very uncertain. "Sometimes we have gone without food," Mutebi confesses. "We just drink water like the birds."
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