Category : Missions

(CT) Free at Last: Andrew Brunson Released by Turkey After Two Years

American pastor Andrew Brunson has been released after being detained for two years in Turkey.

At a hearing this morning, a Turkish court freed him from judicial control, which lifts his house arrest and travel ban.

Despite a guilty verdict sentencing him to 3 years, 1 month, and 15 days in prison, Brunson may return home to the United States as soon as today due to good behavior and time already served.

NBC News broke the news yesterday of the expected deal between Turkey and the United States over Brunson, a North Carolina pastor who had worked in Izmir for decades and was arrested on terrorism and espionage charges in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016.

US officials and religious freedom advocates considered the charges against Brunson to be erroneous, and multiple witnesses retracted their testimonies against him during today’s hearing.

Trump administration officials were optimistic but cautious that Turkey would follow through on the deal, reported The Washington Post. The deal would likely lift recent US sanctions in exchange for Brunson’s release by being sentenced today to time already served.

Officials expect Brunson to “be handed back his passport and put on a plane to the US,” reported The Wall Street Journal….

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Missions, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Turkey

(1st Things) Timothy George on William Carey for his Feast Day–Into All the World

When he left England for India in 1793, the odds were stacked against him. Apart from a few years in a village school, he had no formal education. He was shy, introverted, and insular. He had no financial resources. And, even though he was an ordained pastor, the Baptist bigwigs who led his denomination in London had no confidence in the cobbler-pastor and refused to support his plans.

But Carey would not be deterred. Through his study of the Bible, he had become convinced that he and his fellow Christians were obliged to carry the message of Jesus Christ to those who had never heard it. Carey was a Calvinist but not a hyper-Calvinist. He believed that God wanted all people to hear the message of Christ and that he had ordained “the use of means” to carry out that purpose. Against others who argued that the missionary mandate had been fulfilled long ago in the apostolic age, Carey said that the Great Commission had no statute of limitations.

And so, on June 13, 1793, William Carey, his wife Dorothy, and their four children—including a nursing infant—sailed from Dover on a Danish ship headed for India. Carey never saw his homeland again. He would spend the rest of his life in India as a pastor, teacher, evangelist, linguist, agriculturalist, journalist, botanist, social activist, and correspondent with some of the world’s leading political and religious figures. His fame seemed not to have corrupted his soul. When he died in his seventy-third year, he requested that a couplet from one of his favorite hymns by Isaac Watts be inscribed in the stone slab that would mark his grave. Though the words have faded with time, their traces can still be seen today: “A wretched, poor, and helpless worm, on thy kind arms I fall.”

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Posted in Church History, Missions

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Carey

Merciful God, who didst call William Carey to missionary work in India and didst endue him with a zeal for thy Word that led him to translate Scripture into many local languages and dialects: Give us a heart for the spreading of thy Gospel and a thirst for justice among all the peoples of the world; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who sheds thy light and peace throughout humanity, and who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Mott

O God, the shepherd of all, we offer thanks for the lifelong commitment of thy servant John Raleigh Mott to the Christian nurture of students in many parts of the world; and we pray that, after his example, we may strive for the weaving together of all peoples in friendship, fellowship and cooperation, and while life lasts be evangelists for Jesus Christ, in whom alone is our peace; and who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

Roland Allen in his own words on Mission and Saint Paul

In little more than ten years St. Paul established the Church in four provinces of the Empire, Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia. Before AD 47 there were no churches in these provinces; in AD 57 St. Paul could speak as if his work there was done, and could plan extensive tours into the far west without anxiety lest the churches which he had founded might perish in his absence for want of his guidance and support.

The work of the Apostle during these ten years can therefore be treated as a unity. Whatever assistance he may have received from the preaching of others, it is unquestioned that the establishment of the churches in these provinces was really his work. In the pages of the New Testament he, and he alone, stands forth as their founder. And the work which he did was really a completed work. So far as the foundation of the churches is concerned, it is perfectly clear that the writer of the Acts intends to represent St. Paul’s work as complete. The churches were really established. Whatever disasters fell upon them in later years, whatever failure there was, whatever ruin, that failure was not due to any insufficiency or lack of care and completeness in the Apostle’s teaching or organization. When he left them he left them because his work was fully accomplished.

This is truly an astonishing fact. That churches should be founded so rapidly, so securely, seems to us today, accustomed to the difficulties, the uncertainties, the failures, the disastrous relapses of our own missionary work, almost incredible. Many missionaries in later days have received a larger number of converts than St. Paul; many have preached over a wider area than he; but none have so established churches. We have long forgotten that such things could be. We have long accustomed ourselves to accept it as an axiom of missionary work that converts in a new country must be submitted to a very long probation and training, extending over generations before they can be expected to be able to stand alone. Today if a man ventures to suggest that there may be something in the methods by which St. Paul attained such wonderful results worthy of our careful attention, and perhaps of our imitation, he is in danger of being accused of revolutionary tendencies.

–Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours; A Study of The Church In The Four Provinces, Chapter One

Posted in Church History, Missions, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Roland Allen

Almighty God, by whose Spirit the Scriptures were opened to thy servant Roland Allen, so that he might lead many to know, live and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Give us grace to follow his example, that the variety of those to whom we reach out in love may receive thy saving Word and witness in their own languages and cultures to thy glorious Name; through Jesus Christ, thy Word made flesh, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Standing down the ghosts of the past–why the spectre of paternalism still haunts mission

A reminder of the stark inequality between the dominant voices of the Western Churches and the hugely under-represented younger Churches can be found by looking at the first World Missionary Conference, held in Edinburgh in 2010. Among more than 1200 Western delegates were just 17 Asians, and even these were registered as representing British and American organisations, ignoring the fact that some of them, such as V. S. Azariah — consecrated the first Indian Anglican bishop just two years later — could have represented their own Churches or missionary societies.

That Asians were consulted at all was at the insistence of the YMCA’s John R. Mott, in the face of strong opposition. It was he who, knowing what he was letting the conference in for, encouraged the initially hesitant Azariah to speak freely and frankly on the sensitive issue of failures in the relationships between foreign and indigenous workers. So, “the first shot in the campaign against missionary imperialism”. as it came to be known, was fired

Taking heart, Azariah told the assembled conference: “We shall learn to walk only by walking — perchance only by falling and learning from our mistakes, but never by being kept in leading strings until we arrive at maturity.”

He called to mind the quality of the relationships that Christ had established with his disciples, and made the impassioned plea: “Give us friends!” It was the clarion call for a radically new relationship, based on equality, mutual respect, and mutual support.

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Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Missions, Stewardship, Theology

(Atlantic) A New Generation Redefines What It Means to Be a Missionary

Christianity is shrinking and aging in the West, but it’s growing in the Global South, where most Christians are now located. With this demographic shift has come the beginning of another shift, in a practice some Christians from various denominations embrace as a theological requirement. There are hundreds of thousands of missionaries around the world, who believe scripture compels them to spread Christianity to others, but what’s changing is where they’re coming from, where they’re going, and why.

The model of an earlier era more typically involved Christian groups in Western countries sending people to evangelize in Africa or Asia. In the colonial era of the 19th and early 20th centuries in particular, missionaries from numerous countries in Europe, for example, traveled to countries like Congo and India and started to build religious infrastructures of churches, schools, and hospitals. And while many presented their work in humanitarian terms of educating local populations or assisting with disaster relief, in practice it often meant leading people away from their indigenous spiritual practices and facilitating colonial regimes in their takeover of land. Kenya’s first post-colonial president Jomo Kenyatta described the activities of British missionaries in his country this way: “When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”

Yet as many states achieved independence from colonial powers following World War II, the numbers of Christian missionaries kept increasing. In 1970, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there were 240,000 foreign Christian missionaries worldwide. In 2000, that number had grown to 440,000. And by 2013, the center was discussing in a report the trend of “reverse mission, where younger churches in the Global South are sending missionaries to Europe,” even as the numbers being sent from the Global North were “declining significantly.” The report noted that nearly half of the top 20 mission-sending countries in 2010 were in the Global South, including Brazil, India, the Philippines, and Mexico.

As the center of gravity of mission work shifts, the profile of a typical Christian missionary is changing—and so is the definition of their mission workwhich historically tended to center on the explicit goal of converting people to Christianity.

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Posted in Church History, Globalization, History, Missions, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Willibrord

O Lord our God, who dost call whom thou willest and send them whither thou choosest: We thank thee for sending thy servant Willibrord to be an apostle to the Low Countries, to turn them from the worship of idols to serve thee, the living God; and we entreat thee to preserve us from the temptation to exchange the perfect freedom of thy service for servitude to false gods and to idols of our own devising; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Denmark, England / UK, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer, The Netherlands

(WSJ) David Hollinger–Christian Missionaries Against Colonialism

Critics of Christian missionaries often write them off as pawns of imperialism, destroying native cultures as they spread their religion and their racist beliefs. There’s a grain of truth to this: Protestant missionaries throughout American history did promote colonialism and prejudice. But then upon returning home many did the opposite. Men and women sent abroad to make the world look more like the U.S. wound up, paradoxically, trying to make the U.S. look more like the world.

During the first half of the 20th century, American missionaries began developing relatively generous attitudes toward the people they had been taught to regard as heathen and backward, if not inferior. Deep and sustained immersion in foreign communities challenged inherited stereotypes. Missionaries and their children eventually became some of the most conspicuous opponents of colonialism and racism.

As early as the 1920s missionaries were telling their sponsors back home that they wanted to cut back on preaching and focus instead on social service. This idea sharply divided the community of faith. Fundamentalists treated any weakening of the program of conversion as heresy. Yet the better-educated liberals who later came to be known as “mainline Protestants” voiced increasing respect for Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and other faiths. These Congregationalists, Methodists and ecumenical groups applied their cosmopolitanism to national and world affairs. The women’s missionary boards were persistent critics of Jim Crow at home and colonialism abroad.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Missions

([London] Times) Help 4 British missionaries kidnapped in Nigerian delta, Archbp Welby urged

The Archbishop of Canterbury was urged yesterday to personally intervene to help secure the release of four British missionaries kidnapped in Nigeria.

The Most Rev Justin Welby has previously negotiated the release of hostages in the Niger Delta where David Donovan, a former GP from Cambridge, his wife, Shirley, and two other volunteers were kidnapped last week.

Authorities fear they have been moved outside the police search area as one of the groups seeking independence for the region pledged to help the government security agencies rescue the missionaries.

Mr and Mrs Donovan, both 57, have run a Christian charity providing medical services in Nigeria for 14 years. The other hostages were named by police as “Alana” and “Tyan”.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Missions, Nigeria, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Henry Martyn

O God of the nations, who didst give to thy faithful servant Henry Martyn a brilliant mind, a loving heart, and a gift for languages, that he might translate the Scriptures and other holy writings for the peoples of India and Persia: Inspire in us, we beseech thee, a love like his, eager to commit both life and talents to thee who gavest them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT) Daniel Yang–3 ABNY (Already but not yet) Social Realities Shaping North American Missions

If the North American Church of today can thoughtfully take into consideration these three social realities, we might not only catch up to how fast culture is changing, but we’ll also play a role in leading some of the change.

ABNY SOCIAL REALITY #1: Demographic Shifts in the U.S.

Much has been said about the 2010 U.S. Census and how demographers forecast that in the next few decades the U.S. will no longer have a majority race.

Basically, the U.S. is becoming like the city of 40 or 50 years ago where Whites were leaving and minorities were moving in.

In his book, Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America, sociologist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, William Frey, points out that Whites are aging and having fewer children. This, alongside the growth of Latino, Asian, and multiracial groups, will mean that in less than 30 years, Whites will comprise less than half of the U.S. population.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Missions, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Dr. Ruth Pfau, a German-born medical missionary who was hailed as the “Mother Teresa of Pakistan” dies at age 87

Dr. Pfau, who had converted to Roman Catholicism and become a nun, discovered her calling to help lepers coincidentally.

In 1960, she was waylaid in Pakistan by a passport foul-up en route to a posting in India by her Roman Catholic order, the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary. By chance, she visited a leper colony in Karachi, where she met one of the thousands of Pakistani patients afflicted with the disease.

“He must have been my age — I was at this time not yet 30 — and he crawled on hands and feet into this dispensary, acting as if this was quite normal,” she told the BBC in 2010, “as if someone has to crawl there through that slime and dirt on hands and feet, like a dog.”

The encounter stunned her.

“I could not believe that humans could live in such conditions,” she told the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune in 2014. “That one visit, the sights I saw during it, made me make a key life decision.”

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Missions, Pakistan

(CT) How Immigrants Are Reshaping American Missions

The economic and prayer engine powering Valentin’s ministry is an unmarked storefront where visitors enter through a back door in an industrial alley, the only door with a welcome mat.

Mario’s church, Ministerio a la Luz de la Palabra, is in East Compton, where the paint fades and weeds push unopposed through the sidewalks. The congregation leases, for a steal, a strip-mall theater that had all but burned to the ground before volunteers gutted it in 2008 and remade it into a house of worship.

It’s the sixth location in 20 years for the Assemblies of God church, common for majority-immigrant churches buffeted by Southern California’s atmospheric real estate prices. “We can’t keep one zip code,” Mario said. By his estimate, 90 percent of his 200-member congregation is undocumented, mostly from El Salvador and Mexico. The average household income is $20,000. Four families own homes.

Mario, 44, holds a doctor of ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and likens his church to the church in Antioch, scattered by persecution but serving neighbors near and far. It has fueled the ministries in El Salvador while simultaneously developing local outreach efforts. The church’s food bank draws a line of beneficiaries stretching down the alley every Saturday. “The weird thing is, we don’t have money,” he said. “If we’re here, it’s because the Lord opened the door for us to be here.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Immigration, Missions