by Ruth Tucker
A selection of significant articles about missions.
TRIBUTE TO A CHINA MISSIONARY. East Asia’s Millions, OMF, 404 S. Church St., Robesonia, Penn. 19551.
"Missionaries came not because they loved people and wanted to heal the sick, but in order to manipulate the people and further their own political aims." This was the caption on a display in a Chinese museum following the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. It was obvious government propaganda, and recognized as such by most of the people who had known missionaries personally-especially missionaries like David Adeney. His story is told in the Winter 1990 issue of East Asia’s Millions (published by OMF), in an article by Carolyn Armitage entitled "David Adeney and China: A Love that Lasted."
David Adeney and his wife Ruth were in their second term of mission work in China in the late 1940s, actively involved in student work. "Those were the great days for student ministry. InterVarsity of China, under Chinese leadership, had chapters in 80 colleges and universities." But then, with the communist takeover, missionaries were evacuated. It was a heartbreaking departure for the Adeneys, but it was necessary for the sake of the students and for themselves. "Shortly after that, a poster was circulated denouncing David as an imperialist."
"Meanwhile, David worked with students in the States and all across Asia, from Japan to India. He founded an international graduate school in Singapore that disciples Asian students." But Ms love and concern for China and Chinese students never dimmed. How painful it was when "the first shadowy whispers about China suggested to many that the church had been slowly tortured to death."
As a new era opened in China in the late 1970s, David took every opportunity to renew his friendship with the Chinese people. On one of the first tours back, he managed to slip away from the guide. "A crowd gathered quickly to see a Mandarin-speaking Westerner…One young man told David privately that his family had been thrown out of their home during the Cultural Revolution because his parents were Christians. David met him and the rest of his family secretly. That night, the young man and one of his brothers met Christ."
In the months and years that followed, David had many more opportunities to return to China, on one occasion leading a team of American doctors who taught a cancer seminar for the Henan Medical Association. "For a few fitting hours, David Adeney, ‘the imperialist missionary,’ was back in his Henan province and given a government platform."
THE CHURCH IN LEBANON, Christianity Today, 465 Gundersen, Carol Stream, III. 60188.
What has happened to the church in Lebanon after decades of civil war? That story is told in a "Dance of Faith and Death," an article in Christianity Today (November 5, 1990), by Lyn Cryderman, who, as a journalist, traveled to that war-torn country.
Missionaries were active in Lebanon until the 1980s, when they were asked by the U.S. government to leave. Now many of them continue to supervise their Lebanese associates from Cyprus. But "they are a defiant lot," writes Cryderman. "Absolutely forbidden by their mission boards to return to Lebanon, many of them make annual or quarterly visits."
The Presbyterians, to the 1890s, were the first to establish a strong evangelical mission base in Lebanon. The second wave of evangelical mission work came in the late 1940s with the Southern Baptists. These missionaries serve with courage and dedication-Mack Sacco being a prime example. "Once in West Beirut, some Lebanese Muslims kidnapped him, roughed him up, then told him to get ready to die. They had him place Ms head between his knees and shoved the barrel of a Kilishnikov assault rifle against the base of his skull. ‘I waited for the shot, but it never came,’ Mack recalls. Instead of killing Mm, they took his wallet, his brand-new tennis racket, and the groceries he had just bought, then drove off in his car."
But such opposition does not cause the missionaries to lose their vision for mission. "To the SBC folks back home, Mack has this to say: When you lose sight of your mission you get sidetracked on all the wrong issues. And then the church can’t do what it was called to do-bring the light of Christ to a darkened world."
Zena, age 14, is one of those whose world has been brightened by the light of Christ. Her home is a Beirut bombshelter, and she has not attended school for most of two years. But, in many ways she is a typical teenager who loves American clothes and culture. "Zena also loves to go to church. ‘Even if my mommy sleeps in, I get up on Sunday morning and go. And if my church cannot hold services that morning because of damage in the night, I go to another church. Any church.’ Why? That’s where I learn about Jesus.’
Evangelical Christians comprise less than one percent of the population of Lebanon, and most of the mission outreach, according to Cryderman, "could be considered sheep stealing, as the main outreach is to disenchanted members of the ancient or traditional churches (Orthodox and Maronite Catholics)." Very little evangelism is done among Muslims, due to the simple reality that work among them is so difficult and seemingly fruitless.
There are major differences among the various Christian churches in Lebanon, but one thing they share in common is their dismay at American attitudes toward their country. "They do not understand why fellow believers in the West look to the only Arab Christian nation with either indifference or outright hostility. And they also wonder why American Christians, especially, seem to have more concern for their southern neighbor, Israel."
MAINLINE CHURCHES AND MISSION. Good News, P.O. Box 150, Wilmore, Kent. 40390.
"Who Will Evangelize the World in 2000 A.D.?" This question is the title of an article by Gerald Anderson in the September/October issue of Good News (published by the Forum for Scriptural Christianity, a Methodist organization). Perhaps the simplest and most indisputable response to that question is that it will not be the same sort of people who evangelized the world in 1900. "It is estimated that by A.D. 2000 the majority of Protestant missionaries in the world will be Third World persons sent by Third World mission agencies."
Not only is there a shift in sending nations-from West to East-but the profile of the Western missionary is also changing significantly. The good news is that "there are more Protestant missionaries from the United States serving overseas today than ever before in history-approximately 40,000 (not including 30,700 short-termers)." But not all denominations have kept pace. "Only nine percent come from all the churches in the National Council of Churches (including 416 from the United Methodist Church-down from 1,680 in 1960 when the Methodist board was the largest mission agency in the United States)."
As a United Methodist himself and one of this country’s leading missiologists, Anderson insists that "it is no mere coincidence" that the churches most involved in mission "also to be the churches that are growing both in the West and overseas."
"The decline of American denominations is well-known and well-documented. The mainline churches have become a minority religious movement on the American religious scene and are now more aptly described as oldline, sideline, or end-of-the-line churches."
The United Methodists alone have lost two million members since 1968-nearly 250 members per day. "Someone has calculated that if the decline continues at the current rate, by the year 2045 there will be only two Methodists left in the United States-one will be a bishop and the other will be the general secretary of the only official mission sending agency; all this in a country with 100 million unchurched people."
Anderson’s warning to his own denomination ought to seen as a challenge to all mainline churches: "We are engaged today in nothing less than a struggle for the soul and survival of the United Methodist Church. It is essentially a struggle about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the mission of the church. We are living off the spiritual reserves of past generations without adding to them. We are using up our spiritual capital inherited from the faith of our mothers and fathers. Our reserves are dwindling and unless the process is reversed, we are headed toward spiritual bankruptcy and ecclesial suicide."
URBANA’S INFLUENCE OVER THE DECADES. In Other Words, P.O. Box 727, Huntington Beach, Calif. 92647.
The enthusiasm that Urbana generates among college-age Christians for five days every three years at the University of Illinois at the campus in Champaign/Urbana is well known. But what happens afterwards? The December, 1990, issue of In Other Words (published by Wycliffe Bible Translators) gives some fascinating follow-up stories in an article entitled "A Time for Decision."
Dave Venable, now serving in the Philippines, attended Urbana ’67. At the end of the conference he took a commitment card, but could not sign it. Finally, after a two-week struggle, he came to the point where he committed his life to missions, if that was where God wanted him. "I signed the card and placed it in my Bible, where it remained for years," he testifies. "The pull toward missions became stronger and stronger, and in 1983, when God said it was time to go, the card was still in my Bible."
Urbana ’70 changed 18-year-old Betsy Barber’s life: "As a fledgling adult I made an adult commitment; I wanted in on the action!… One immediate and heart-rending result came when I broke up with my boyfriend who wasn’t heading to the mission field and committed myself to a celibate life. Now, 20 years later and 17 years married, I chuckle at the Father’s delightful leading …. What happened to me at Urbana ’70 was that I saw clearly what my Lord wanted me to do, and I agreed to do it. It was a sober, yet wildly joyful decision."
Ron Krens attended Urbana ’76. "Being a fairly new Christian," he writes, "I knew very little about missions. Going to Urbana was sort of a crash course in missions. … By the end of that week, I heard a clear call from God to seminary and to some form of full-time overseas service…. We arrived in Indonesia in early 1989 and, having completed a year of national language study, are awaiting a translation assignment."
PREPARING FUTURE AFRICAN LEADERS. Interlit, 850 N. Grove, Elgin, III. 60120.
"What Is Needed Today in "African leaders?" was a question James Nyquist posed to African student leaders from seven different countries who were attending a conference in Harare, Zimbabwe. The findings are published in an article by that title in the December, 1990, issue of Interlit (published by the David C. Cook Foundation). The 14 qualities apply specifically to Africans aiming for publishing ministries, but they are applicable to Christian leaders worldwide.
1. Vision/purpose in life. African leaders must have a broad vision that extends beyond their own countries to the rest of Africa and the world.
2. Devotion to a cause. Whole-hearted commitment that is not dependent on expatriates is necessary.
3. Integrity. Leaders "should not protect themselves from public scrutiny, but instead, they must allow their financial and personal lives to be a public witness."
4. Selfless. They should be willing to give themselves to ministry even though financial rewards in other professions or other countries may be greater.
5. Hard work. "The motivation to work hard requires a counter-cultural perspective. In Africa, it’s tempting to ‘just get by.’"
6. African identity. Leaders must be in touch with the people. "A Western-oriented ‘ivory tower’ approach can not provide enough stimulus for effective leadership in Africa."
7. Proud of being Africans. "An apologetic attitude will never provide the kind of vision or motivation that will enable Africans to rise to the challenge of the nineties."
8. Good managers of resources. "Since most African nations can barely meet the basic needs of their people, all talents or financial and natural resources … will need careful stewardship."
9. Humility. "An attentive leader will not take people for granted, or act as the only source of wisdom and power."
10. Servant-spirit. "Africa is thirsty for leaders who do not exploit power for selfish gain, but instead get satisfaction from meeting the needs of their people."
11. Creativity. "Leaders must be able to assess situations and develop new approaches to handling them, even though this involves taking risks."
12. Steadiness. "Various pressures and temptations to divert one from the original vision need to be countered with steadfast pursuit of the intended goals."
13. Willingness to train others. "The ability to trust others and delegate responsibilities is an essential ingredient in successful leadership."
14. Christ-centered. "They are those who (1) have a firm grasp of the Bible; (2) combine faith with practice; (3) are people of prayer; and (4) retain flexibility while upholding sound biblical principles."
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