Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
One of the difficulties with the task of global discipleship is making sure that Western missionaries and sending churches are not doing more harm than good. There are numerous factors to take into consideration when doing gospel-ministry in another culture, and thus, there are many risks that Western missionaries face. These might be preaching a “Western” gospel rather than a gospel that is relevant to all cultures, or doing community development in way that enables laziness rather than empowers ownership. In other words, missionaries and senders run the risk
In about 5 weeks, we will have our Challenge Sunday, the climax of the Master Planning process. You will be hearing shortly about an exciting debt reduction/income expansion vision. An important part of our excitement is the spreading of a passion for God to all peoples and nations. This report comes from one of our people who is thousands of miles away, regarding visitors they had last Fall.
"There is not an inch of any sphere of life over which Jesus Christ does not say, 'Mine'." (Abraham Kuyper)
"No local church can afford to go without the encouragement and nourishment that will come to it by sending away its best people." (David Penman)
"In America the most important thing is that people have freedom. In restricted countries the most important thing is what people do with freedom." (George Otis)
1) Unexpectedly, I was impressed more by similarities than by differences among the representatives of 68+ countries. In my small discussion group were individuals from Malawi (south central Africa), Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Greece. From the very outset, when the sharing of problems was candid the empathy was remarkable. Church issues, family issues, and personal faith issues seemed to be so similar that we could feel each other’s strains immediately. This was a surprise to me.
It is not easy to spot the epoch-making people while they are alive. That’s just as well, I suppose. It helps protect us from idol worship and them from vanity.
But an epoch in world missions is being made, and two of the makers are Ralph and Roberta Winter, founders of the U.S. Center for World Mission. To spend an evening with them would be a remarkable privilege! You are invited to do that at Bethlehem at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 14. I urge you to put it on your calendar now.
This morning I was meditating on the appearance of Jesus to the disciples after his resurrection. Incomprehensibly he called them “Brothers”! They had deserted him. They were hiding in fear. They were like . . . me. So I heard the Lord of the universe call me “Brother” this morning (John 20:17).
Is Bethlehem or the Baptist General Conference engaged in frontier missions as the apostle Paul conceived it? Answer: Some, but not much.
Most of what our missionaries do may be called regular or assistance missions rather than frontier missions. Regular missions is what you do when you cross a culture to assist an established church to minister to people of its own kind. This kind of partnership is needed up to a point but requires tremendous insight to know what kind of expatriate help is causing long term dependence.
Missions Week is over. Advent is almost upon us. A week of prayer in January is just beyond tomorrow. Life leaps into the future like a frightened gazelle. “Man is like a mere breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”
Not counting the 1,561,000,000 evangelized non-Christians in the world, or the 1,362,000,000 professing Christians in the world, there are 1,381,000,000 unevangelized persons in the world who are “unaware of Christianity, Christ and the Gospel” (World Christian Encyclopedia, 1982).