MISSIONARIES & Their role in raising awareness of global atrocities and bringing about moral reform

by Jason Bruner, Arizona State Univeraity, The Conversation, 11/7/18.

…One of the most notable examples of the use of missionary networks in bridging the imagined distance between a Western Christian public and distant people comes from the Congo Free State, which was established in 1885 and ruled solely by King Leopold of Belgium. 

Leopold’s rule was characterized by widespread atrocities. Some estimates of the death toll of Leopold’s policies exceed 10 million people. Leopold used his reign to extract natural resources from the region. Following a boom in rubber prices, his agents were quick to use violence against the local population to make them harvest and process rubber.

In 1904, Alice Harris, a Protestant missionary with the Congo Balolo Mission, which was organized and supported by British Baptists, took what would become an iconic image of the horrors. Her image has a Congolese father sitting in a kind of stupor, gazing at his daughter’s severed hand and foot, which lie in front of him on the missionary’s porch. 

Harris’s image was reproduced in a host of pamphlets, books and newspapers in both Britain and the United States. Along with other images and reports, it helped foment an international reaction against Leopold’s brutal reign…

Missionaries believed that God worked with them through religious conversions, moral reform and material and economic progress, to spread the truth of Christianity. The role of missionary media became foundational in providing information and images of suffering in the world.

This role often pushed them into ever more remote territories. The information that they sent enabled many Christians in the West to more easily imagine the world as a globally connected community.

Read more at … https://theconversation.com/how-christian-missionary-media-shaped-the-world-104888

MISSIONARY & So, what is the modern missionary to do? In today’s world, the missionary mind-set itself is a modern-day heresy. However, it is still the teaching of Jesus and cannot be erased from the pages of the Bible. – #EdStetzer

by Ed Stetzer, The Washington Post, 11/28/18.

For some, the very idea of trying to convert others to a certain faith and taking any risk to do so is simply abhorrent. But Christians worldwide genuinely believe that people who hear and respond to the gospel are better off when they do.

…Propagating one’s religious beliefs through missionary activity is practiced by segments of the world’s largest religious groups, including Islam, Buddhism and Christianity. Even the United Nations affirms missionary activity as a legitimate expression of religion or belief.

A missionary named Saint Patrick came to the tribal people of ancient Ireland and converted my ancestors from Celtic polytheism. This is not a new idea. Christianity has been a missionary movement since its beginning. As I noted above, Jesus, in his final address to his followers, commanded them to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). And, speaking to Christians everywhere and in all eras, the apostle Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Many Christians would say we deny the missionary call if we neglect the hard and difficult places in the world. We are truly called to go to “the ends of the earth” with the gospel (Acts 13:47).

For example, when Jesus sent his disciples, he instructed them to pray and then go, while showing them how to honor the dignity and humanity of others’ choices. He also sent his disciples out two by two. The Bible has much to say about the importance of teams and community. Teams bring collective discernment and provide a safeguard against unwise attempts at missionary endeavors. According to Ho, there was a team willing to go with Chau, but he chose to go alone.

Also, in regard to people’s choices, Jesus makes it quite clear in Mark 6:11, saying, “And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place.” It appears that Chau returned to North Sentinel even after being shot at with arrows, one of which, according to his journal, stuck in his Bible.

Read more of Ed’s article “Slain missionary John Chau prepared much more than we thought, but are missionaries still fools?at https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2018/11/28/slain-missionary-john-chau-prepared-much-more-than-we-thought-his-case-is-still-quandary-us-missionaries/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5788b40ca09c

MISSIONAL & Are You a Mission Station or a Missional Community? #DonaldMcGavran

by Bob Whitesel, 3/17/15. 

Missiologist Dr. Donald McGavran often criticized the “mission station approach” to missions. Still, if this is the first time you’ve heard the term it doesn’t sound so bad. But a little history about the term and how it was abused can help us be more effective in helping others today.

The “mission station approach” to outreach became a fairly common term to describe how in mission work, a foreign entity (like the Lutheran Church of Germany for example) would set up “mission stations” (such as in South Africa) to reach indigenous peoples.  

The mission station was a little enclave, sort of a transplanted European walled-city, that would provide a microcosm of European Christian culture amid the indigenous peoples of the mission field.  The language in the mission station was the language of the missionaries, and the culture was as well.  The missionaries at the mission station expected the indigenous peoples to come “into” the mission station, learn a European language, dress in European clothes, be taught about Christian culture and accept Jesus.  Needless to say, this was terribly ineffectual.

However, it was not until the great missionary awakening that people like William B. Carrey, Albert Schweitzer, and others popularized the more effective contextualization approach. They argued that you “sift” or evaluate culture, rejecting some elements that are anti-Christ and accept other elements that are morally neutral (see Charles Kraft’s “Christianity and Culture” and Lesslie Newbigin’s “Christ and Culture” for an extended … 300+ page… discussion on this).

A colleague of mine, Dr. Ryan Bolger pointed out in a white paper to the American Society of Church Growth (2002) that today most churches have become “mission stations” in North America: we speak a different language, live a different culture and we expect the unchurched people to come “into” our mission stations and adopt our culture.  This is why Darrel Guder in “Missional Church” (1998) points out that in North America we live in a culture that is hostile to Christianity … thus effectively making churches in North America missionary organizations.  (Guder’s book is an excellent introduction to the missional church … it is a modern contextualization of classic Church Growth principles.  And, it is the most highly regarded book outside of the Bible by emerging post-modern church leaders.)

Thus, I think it strategically judicious to embrace the life of missionaries in the North American context (doing so while embracing strategies that are effectual and successful in missiological experience and contexts).