Editors Note: This post is one in a three part series. You can read the first article here.
I sit there, intrigued, as I listen to the man’s story. We are in an important (and extremely unreached) city in North India. Detail upon intricate detail mounts as he narrates the amazing events that caused him to renounce Sikhism for Christianity. I listen intently as he tells us of the healing his mother received from a life-threatening illness, his subsequent rise from rags to riches, the persecutions he has faced, and most importantly, the supernatural vision in which he saw a figure cloaked in white who squeezed his hand and told him “I will bless you.”
He rubs his moistened eyes, wiping away tears…and then he tells us that though it has been over 20 years now, he can still feel the hand of that otherworldly figure squeezing his hand today. My Western friends listen, some of them wary, but a couple of them, enthralled…
My Indian co-laborer nudges me as we listen. We are all too familiar with the gimmick—this is something we’ve seen and heard many times before. The man finishes his story, and one of my Western friends, a sincere brother—in fact, one who is fairly solid in his theology—remarks, “Wow! Praise God! That’s such an awesome testimony brother!”
Inwardly, I feel flabbergasted! How is it that even people who know their Bibles and understand the Gospel well get duped by this stuff?! Isn’t the complete absence of the gospel in his testimony obvious??
My Indian friend and I begin to explain to the man about the true forgiveness of sins that only Jesus can provide, about Christ’s death and resurrection and his sin-bearing substitutionary sacrifice on the cross…he looks puzzled, for he has no idea what we’re talking about! All he knows is that “Jesus is the only god who will bless you.” That’s why he became a Christian. That’s why he became a pastor. And he’s been a pastor for 20 years! He used to be a poor Sikh, but now he’s driving a posh SUV as a “Christian bishop.” He drives us to his “church” building, a multi-story mega-church that seats 3000, and tells us that he’s the “bishop” over a ministry that plants several hundred churches every six months. But one could replace the name “Jesus” everywhere in his testimony with the name of any other god, and it wouldn’t make a difference…
And to make matters worse, this “bishop” has a Western missionary, totally taken in by his story, functioning almost like his foot-servant. Why not, since the missionary can report back all this bishop’s numbers as his own!
In my previous post, I talked about the evil fruit that results from a craze for numbers and “rapid growth” in missions in India. In this post, I want to focus on a second major problem—the West’s enchantment with the “supernatural.” My intent here is not to enter into the debate over whether God still operates supernaturally or not. Rather, I hope to alert my brothers and sisters in the West to the dangers of being allured by sensational stories that are devoid of the biblical gospel message. I also hope to call my brethren in both India and the West to keep the gospel message central in all our gospel work, and to prize the power God’s Holy and Authoritative Word above all else.
Has the Holy Spirit Migrated from West to East?
The Beatles. Madonna. Julia Roberts. Eat, Pray, Love. College students without a job. One can think of a long list of people in the West who are fascinated with the otherworldliness of Eastern spirituality. And this trend has found its way into the Church as well. I’ve grown weary of hearing it over and over: “We Western Christians are so narrow-minded. We put God in a box! We place limits on what he can do. That’s why we don’t see God work supernaturally here like he does in the East.” Many of my brothers and sisters in the West have bought into this false idea that the Western church is devoid of the Holy Spirit’s supernatural work today—while the third member of the Trinity is greatly active in the East, in places like India and China, where people are purportedly seeing dreams and visions and miracles are happening all over the place. In the West, people are fascinated and allured by all the amazing testimonies and reports they hear from what is happening “out there” on the mission field.
But sadly, this fascination with the “supernatural” is often accompanied with a loss of discernment. At times, Westerners get so googly-eyed with sensational stories from the East that they don’t even notice the non-existence of any form of the gospel message.
Westerners get so googly-eyed w/ sensational stories that they don’t notice the absence of the Gospel. - Tweet this
Beloved friends, Wake Up! The Holy Spirit has not transferred locations! He is just as active in the West as He is anywhere else in the world, doing what He has been sent to do—empowering witness to Christ (John 15:26–27; Acts 1:16; 1 Pet 1:12); convicting the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8); leading the church into all truth (John 16:13); glorifying Christ by drawing people from darkness to light as the gospel message is proclaimed (2 Cor 3:12–4:6); and sealing God’s people for the Day of Redemption (Eph 1:13).
Oh that we would recognize that the greatest, most supernatural work of God is when the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of sinners to the glory of Christ, regenerating and renewing them through the proclamation of the gospel, so that they are transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith! Do we not realize that the Spirit of God is sovereign and active, accomplishing this work in every place where Christ is faithfully proclaimed from the Scriptures?
I know of so many dear brothers and sisters in the West whose testimony goes something like this: “I grew up in a Christian home. From my youngest years, my parents taught me the Bible. My parents loved the Lord. They pointed me to Christ and told me of his sacrificial death on behalf of sinners. I was very young when I heard the gospel, repented of my sins, and trusted Christ for salvation. And so I’ve grown up almost all my life knowing the Lord.” Beloved friends, is this less glorious or less supernatural in any way? Is this not a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power to raise dead sinners to life? Have we forgotten the glory of the gospel? Have we forgotten that all heaven celebrates when one sinner comes to repentance?
Let us not emphasize other things, for this has disastrous consequences…
The Fabrication of Testimonies that Titillate
In my last post, I talked about the corruption prevalent in ministries in India owing to an emphasis on numbers in the West—Inflated numbers and false reports of great revivals are generated in order to bring in Western cash. Likewise, the West’s fascination with sensational stories has a similar corrosive effect—testimonies are fabricated in order to dazzle and daze Western believers into generously giving financial support. And once again, I am sorry to say that my Western friends—even the theologically sound ones—are gullible.
In India, I have encountered professing Indian believers who don’t say much to me by way of testimony—why would they, since I am just a fellow Indian. But these very people, when they meet a Westerner, as soon as they see white skin, are quick to narrate stories of dreams, visions, and amazing supernatural experiences.
On more than one occasion, I have had the heartbreaking experience of meeting churches and believers in the West who have had the awful experience of being duped by Indian “ministries.” For instance, one Indian “evangelist” hoodwinked a whole network of churches with his fantastic testimony:
He claimed to have been raised as a religious Hindu, and his family owned a snake that they worshipped daily. As an adult, he was gripped with religious fervor and zeal for Hinduism. He was on his way to attack and kill Christians when he saw a vision of Christ that halted him, and brought him to tears. He then became a Christian, resolving to proclaim the faith he once persecuted, and despite being rejected by his family and friends, he is following Christ and serving him as an evangelist.
Several churches and ministries supported this “man of God,” only to later learn that the entire story was made up! This man actually grew up as the son of a pastor in a “Christian home,” and fabricated this testimony because he learned that it is only testimonies like this that generate support from the West. And let me assure you that this story is not an isolated case! There are many, many others like this one… and in every case, my Western brothers and sisters are quick to be amazed—and sadly—deceived.
Such deception could be avoided by exercising more caution and discernment—by verifying every detail of such testimonies (especially in view of its extraordinary details) on the account of eye-witnesses; and by carefully checking if the person understands the biblical gospel and prizes it above such experiences.
The Propagation of the Prosperity “Gospel”
When Western believers unwittingly get carried away with sensational stories of the supernatural, not only does corruption thrive in India, but so does false teaching. Even churches and believers who decry the evils of the heretical prosperity gospel actually promote its growth in India. How? By endorsing and supporting ministries in India that emphasize great miracles while teaching the anti-gospel health-and-wealth doctrine. Because the ministries in India that emphasize great miracles are also those that most often teach the anti-gospel health-and-wealth doctrine. They do not begin with the biblical gospel, so we should not be surprised to find that the content of their ministries is not the biblical gospel! Yes, it’s true. And this is also tied to the craze for numbers: the “prosperity gospel” prospers, and brings in the people by the droves. It thus boasts of both supernatural “miracles” and big numbers.
Let’s Put the Emphasis in the Right Place
My brothers and sisters, the only way for true gospel growth to happen in India is for us to remember how gospel growth comes—through the Gospel! The Gospel proclaims that all people everywhere have sinned and rebelled against God our Creator and stand justly condemned under his holy judgment; but God graciously saves sinners through his Son Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death on the cross as a substitute for sinners, and was raised from the dead, so that all who repent of their wickedness and trust in him alone receive full forgiveness of sins and eternal life through him. The Story of God’s great and supernatural plan of salvation must take precedence over all other “supernatural stories.”
Let us not get carried away by stories of dreams and visions, but let us stand firm on the bedrock of the inspired Word of God. Even the apostle Peter, who was an eye-witness to the glory of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, who heard the very voice of God and saw with his own eyes the Son of God in all his majestic glory, tells us that we have something more sure than his experience. Something “more fully confirmed, to which we would do well to pay attention”—the Bible (2 Pet 1:16–21).
The faithful Indian co-laborers that I know, who sincerely work for true gospel growth in the hardest regions of India do one simple thing when anyone comes to them with stories of a dream or vision or anything else. Open God’s Word. Point them to the Bible. Remind them that such “supernatural” occurrences might be shaky and uncertain, but the Scripture is steadfast and true. Do we thank God for dreams, visions, supernatural healings, deliverances and any other special acts of God’s providence that glorify Christ? Absolutely. But the most supernatural work of all is when the Holy Spirit brings people to submit to the Supernatural Book.
My brothers and sisters in the West, will you hear me out? In your support of gospel work in India, will you be discerning and resolve not to get carried away by the sensational stuff? Will you remember that the proclamation of the gospel and the teaching of the Scriptures are what produces a people conformed to Christ’s image? Will you ensure that any “gospel work” that you endorse or support is founded on the message of Christ’s death and resurrection for sinners, the gospel of repentance and faith, and God’s Holy and Inspired Word? I pray that you will.
So the next time you hear a testimony from India (or anywhere), be careful to discern whether the person has truly understood the gospel. And be careful to ensure that God receives the glory above all else for his marvelous supernatural work in saving lost sinners.
In my next post, I will address another burning issue in missions in India—“contextualization.”
It is unfortunate that portrayals of Jesus as an ancestor by liberal African theologians go unchallenged in most African settings. Yet, there are various reasons to be concerned.
Unbiblical Starting Point
The starting point of ancestor Christology by African theologians is not the Bible. Orobator, for example, denies the historicity of the Gospel accounts of Jesus and argues that they were concerned with “faith” and not “facts.” Therefore, any talk about Jesus must be from the point of a view of faith (68). Thus, African Christology must be concerned with how to bring about faith or encourage the African’s faith, and not about objective facts about Jesus.
Anything African that communicates Christ and results in faith is acceptable. What this means, then, is that the faith of the African determines how one talks about Jesus Christ. Why so? Because each Gospel account of Jesus is an interpretation of who Jesus is from their faith community. We can speak of the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Orobator, 69). Following the example of the Gospel writers, Africans are to work out their own answers to the “fundamental question of Jesus in Matthew 16:13-16: ‘Who do you say that I am?” (Orobator, 72).
Rejection of the Jesus of the Missionaries
Christ as presented by the missionaries in the advent of Christianity in Africa is foreign to the African person (they assume). It is argued that Africans do not understand the name or the person. So, there needs to be a recast of the person of Jesus in authentic African categories for him to make sense. One of the categories for recasting Jesus in the African context is that of an ancestor, which is authentically African. Only then will the African man cease from embracing a foreign Jesus of the missionary whom he does not know.
The problem here is that the focus is on the agents (those who preached Christ) and, therefore, a rejection of Jesus as the missionary Jesus. Is the quest for an African Jesus the answer? Rather than searching Scripture to understand Jesus as preached by the early missionaries, these theologians assume that he was a Jesus created in the image of the missionary’s culture and must be replaced by a Jesus of the African culture.
Authority of the Bible is Missing in this Debate
It is obvious that those who argue for ancestor Christology do not hold the Bible as the revealed Word of God with authority. They easily set it aside as reflecting cultural experiences of people who were trying to make sense of Jesus. Yet, a proper reading of Scripture gives us a solid biblical Christology that transcends cultures.
Christology Built on Myth?
Ancestor Christology is built on a belief system that even Africans cannot objectively argue for. This Christology requires one to believe that the cult of ancestors, as Africans understand it, is real. Is it? It requires accepting that the dead (ancestors) are playing the role of life giver, mediator, and should be appeased through rituals and sacrifices. Is this really a good starting point for understanding Jesus?
Jesus Christ is no Longer Exclusive
In this system, Jesus is only unique in the sense that he is the Son of God and therefore his role transcends that of the ancestors. In other words, he is better than them, but they play essentially the same role. The truth is that Christ alone saves. Ancestors are dead people and cannot be the source of life.
Ancestor Christology Does Not Save
Nothing is said about our sin against God (instead, sin is against the community as they argue), judgment, or the role of Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World. He is only looked at in the role of ancestor. Yet, the Bible is clear on the centrality of Christ in our salvation. The liberal African Jesus is not difficult to embrace, yet he does not save.
The liberal African Jesus is not difficult to embrace, yet he does not save. -Tweet this
All Man, Not God
A careful reading of ancestor Christology gives us Jesus only as a man and not as God himself. That is the only way this kind of theology can work.
Having pointed out the ways ancestor Christology is deficient, what then should be our approach in communicating Christ in a relevant way within the African context?
Feb. 25, 2015By: Jackson Wu
› Author Bio
In China, there is a
well-known idiom that says, “I’d rather be a chicken’s head than the tail of a
idiom expresses a commonly held notion: It’s better to be in a position of
prominence, even if in a less glamorous sphere, than in a low position yet a
more prestigious context. In the West, there is a similar saying that talks
about being a “big fish in a small pond.”
daily life, this sort of thinking can take many forms. Many Chinese businessmen, for example, will leave their low positions in a major company in order to take
a high position in a local unknown company. One would like to wish that pastors
and missionaries would be immune to such sentiments. In fact, the sin nature
needs no passport. It crosses every border.
the church, becoming a missionary is often regarded as one of the most selfless
and sacrificial things a person can do. Of course, this can be true. Leaving
family, friends, conveniences and the ability to communicate easily are not
things one forsakes easily. On the other hand, it is possible for the mission
field to become a place of unchecked ambition.
The Significance of Status
happens when Westerners come to a country like China (or any number of other
places)? They inherit the title “foreigner.” Initially, this will offend the
westerner’s sensibilities. However, missionaries come to find that the
“foreigner” status carries particular advantages. Within the church, Western
Christians are often regarded as an “expert.” This is nothing more than sheer
assumption since they come from a “Christian country” (so they think).
the problem is the fact that many missionaries receive similar accolades from
friends and family in their home country, who could not imagine living in a
“foreign” country.” Back in their home culture, they are basically anonymous, .
. . until they decide to become missionaries. Then, they become “chicken heads”
. . . having a place of prominence in a place few others want to go.
note these things in order to highlight a subtle danger that can undermine missionary
labor. In the environment I’ve described, vain ambition may still fester
beneath the surface of everything one sees. How?
Missionaries can all too
easily confuse their “status” with significance.
What might this manifest
itself in practice?
work of missions is inherently lonely and slow. Yet, we live in a world of
sensationalized marketing and high-speed methods of communication. Those who
support missionaries want to see high numbers of people being trained and won
the missionary knows that reality is less glamorous that his or her supporters really
want to hear. What are they to do? If they are not careful, missionaries settle
for being “chicken heads” rather than a “phoenix’s tail.”
The Pragmatics of Praise
will list two ways that one might confuse status with significance. Others
could be mentioned. In each case, the potential temptation is as subtle as it
a missionary lands in a new city, one of the first things he or she must do is
meet people. So begins the long process of “networking.” Ministry is about
relationships, right? What’s the problem?
is quite easy to confuse “networking” for ministry. The situation is comparable
to having a Facebook page. Because someone has a lot of “Facebook friends,” he
or she should not mistakenly conclude that those connections represent
meaningful or close relationships.
is important but it must not be confused with ministry itself.
is easy to make oneself seen and known to others (just as one sees a chicken’s head); however, a person must
continually ask himself, “What is the significance of these relationships?” In
other words, are we building up people or just our network? It is healthy for
missionaries to regularly ask themselves, “Do I simply know a lot of people?
Or, do I actually know a lot about these people?”
a large network may afford a certain status, but it does not ensure significant
like numbers. This is no less true in mission circles.
are regarded as objective evidence that one’s strategies are effective. The
problem however is that statistics must still be interpreted and can be
know first-hand of a school in Asia who advertised that they trained at least
1,200 pastors every year. Unfortunately, this was spin. I have direct
knowledge that the school only enrolled between 100–140 students (not all of
them pastors). Why the discrepancy? They counted every class a student attended
as though the school taught a separate person. So, if a single student took 10
classes in a year, the school counted it as having taught 10 separate pastors!
the manipulation? People want to look good to both to their supporters and to
their supervisors. No doubt, this sort of number twisting is a grievous
offense. However, those who are leaders within mission organizations also need
to do a bit of self-examination.
speaking, what is sort of ethos are
you fostering within your group?
For example, what sort of
books and methodologies are emphasized? What kind of requirements do you have
for missionaries? Who typically leads trainings within the organization? Or, ask
yourself this question, “What kind of person typically gets promoted into
leadership positions?” In their ministries, have they reported rapid
multiplication, perhaps even something like a “church planting movement”?
simply, what are the things we make a big deal of? If we continually emphasize
statistics, we will foster an overly
Statistics do not measure
significance. Yes, people will notice us if we report high numbers, but they do not
make Christ’s church become beautiful . . . like a phoenix.
Feb. 24, 2015By: Kristie Burns
Dearest loved ones,
I am thankful that you support
us in the calling God has placed on our heart.
We aren’t moving to Thailand because we think it will be fun or
adventurous or an interesting experience… life would be much more predictable if
we just stayed put in the US and Evan became a pastor
of a church or taught at
a seminary here. Believe me, we have had
those thoughts cross our mind. But when
we both go before the Lord, we are so deeply convicted that His calling on our
lives is to spend ourselves to reach the least reached, to proclaim His glories
among the nations. In one sense, I think
we have seen too much of the dire need out there, and God has miraculously
supplied the funds and the grace needed and the faith needed to go, that it
would be sin for us to stay and not to go.
We’ve seen too much. We can’t sit
back and let the peoples of China or the peoples of Thailand or the peoples of
other Southeast Asian nations perish without the light of the glory of the
gospel of Christ. We are compelled by
His Spirit, and because of His worthiness we go.
We are compelled by His Spirit, and because of His worthiness we go. -Tweet this
Many talk about “counting the
cost” in this pilgrimage Home as we follow Christ. We do need to count the cost and radically
follow Him in whatever He calls us to do.
Yet, I also believe that His Word makes it clear that He Himself is
all-sufficient for our every true need and desire, and so, in some sense,
following Him is a high privilege, no matter hell or high water, because when
we follow Him, we get Him, and He is all-satisfying.
The missionary David
Livingstone said after years of difficult missionary service in Africa, “I
never made a sacrifice.” How could he
say such a thing? Because he counted
Christ as the greatest gain (Philippians 1:21 To live is
Christ, and to die is gain). Whatever
loss he experienced was really not loss because Christ is all, and he had
Christ. I pray that somehow this
Spirit-given perspective would pervade our hearts and yours. That somehow, at the end of the day, you can
join in saying with us, “We never made a sacrifice.” The person of our Lord Jesus Christ and His
gospel is so glorious and so rich, that even the things that seem difficult and
challenging in this life, even the grief we experience in each other’s absence,
cannot compare with the privilege it is that we go for the gospel and you
gladly send us for Christ’s sake.
I say that and wish that for
us, knowing that it sounds impossible and ridiculous to some extent to say “We
never made a sacrifice.” We might not
feel it to be true at times, as the sacrifice might feel so great this side of
glory. But the truth of this promise
‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house
or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake
and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses
and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions,
and in the age to come eternal life.’”
So if we look at this
blood-bought promise of God and believe it to be true (even when it doesn’t
feel true), we can ultimately counsel our souls to know that the grief we bear
as we leave and the grief you bear as you gladly send us will result in an
eternal weight of glory. We will be
rewarded greatly at the resurrection.
How will be rewarded? He Himself
will be our great reward. In some way,
Christ Himself will deeply satisfy our souls eternally in a way that we would
not have known had we not by His grace been willing to go or had you not been
willing to send us.
Another Scripture that has
deeply comforted me during this time is in Acts 17.
God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth,
does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed
anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the
earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,
that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.
Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:24-27).
I love the huge, sovereign,
Creator God that we serve. He made
everything and is the Ruler over all of it.
Particularly, the text says that He has determined the boundaries of our
dwelling places, that people may seek him out.
One missionary friend shared this verse with me to remind me that HE has
determined the exact timing (the allotted periods) and location (boundaries of our dwelling) of each and every
life on this earth. He has determined
that this would be the time we would go to the location of Thailand, at this
point in our lives and at this age our boys’ lives, at this point in your
lives. He determines our dwelling
place. He who is the One and Only
Sovereign, who determines every breath we take, every beat of our heart, every
provision of every sparrow on the face of the earth, every blowing of the wind,
every birth, every death, He determines our going and coming. And this is His appointed time for us to
dwell in Thailand and for you to dwell here in the US. And why does He determine our location? So that people might seek Him out. Ultimately, so that people would be saved
unto Him, so that people might turn to Him and seek Him. He has us in Thailand so that we might seek
Him, so that our boys might seek Him, so that others there might seek Him. He has you here in the US so that your hearts
might seek Him, so that others might seek Him.
May we kiss the Sovereign Hand that bids every coming and going and
humbly, gladly submit to His determination.
Finally a truth that I have
found to be so true to me is that when people I love are removed from my life
by distance or other reasons, I am forced to cling to Christ all the harder. The separation from you will be difficult,
and yet I thank Him and praise Him that it will cause me to cling to Him more
and find deeper satisfaction in all that He can supply. May this be true of your hearts in your
grieving moments. When you cry, may you
cry to Him, knowing He cares so deeply, and that He Himself experienced grief
at the death of Lazarus, his dear friend, though knowing Lazarus would soon be
raised from the dead. When your heart
grieves, may you pour yourself out before Him, knowing He can fill every hole
in your heart in a way that you would not know if you never experienced grief
We have to remember that this
life is but a breath (Psalm 39:5). Sometimes it can seem long and arduous.
But our lives are so short, like the grass which grows one day and withers
the next (1 Peter 1:24). Soon, in the
blink of an eye, we will breathe our last breath and be with Him forever
worshipping Him and enjoying Him forever (1 Corinthians 15:52). We will walk together on the new heavens and
the new earth and know His glories in infinite, eternal bliss. May we be heavenly-minded, may the hope of resurrection
stir our hearts to trust in Him.
May the banner that flies
over my heart and each of your hearts be this:
“Our trust is in the Lord.” Not
in good circumstances, not in life being easy-peasy, not in family being close
by, not in good health, not in financial stability, not in having our every
temporal comfort met, but in Him. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of
the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)
He wounds us that He might heal us, He kills us, that we might truly
live. (Job 5:18; 1 Samuel 2:6) He is wise and good and to be trusted. Pray with me and counsel your heart as I
counsel mine to say over all that comes our way, “Our trust is in the Lord.”
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up
for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)? If the Father didn’t even
spare His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, whom He infinitely, eternally,
incomparably loves… if the Father went to such a great extent to purchase and
redeem our souls, how will He not also with him graciously give us all
things? How will He not also supply us
with every true need and desire—everything we might need for true life and
godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Romans 8:32 is a precious promise to me. The Son-giving Father has done the hardest
thing—handing over His own sinless Son to death in our place—how then will He
not do the easier thing—graciously give us all things we need for the
continuous, sanctifying work of our souls?
He will indeed. He’s done the
hardest part (giving His only Son); granting us everything we need to truly
know and live for Him is the easy part.
He will certainly do it. He will
cause all grace to abound to us (2
So when you miss us and our
adorable little boys, may your heart turn to Him and trust and be glad. The Word of God is so rich and His promises
are so real. We will miss you greatly,
and we will have cause to trust Him more dearly. Keep your hearts fixed on the revelation of
the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter
1:13). In that day, He will wipe away
every tear. One day we will walk with
Him. Behold, our God and our King, we
will dwell in His presence forevermore. Lift up our eyes, oh Lord, and cause us
to see You and trust You and rejoice!
With my deepest love, looking
to Him who alone can satisfy.
Samuel Zwemer, missionary to Bahrein, Egypt, and Asia Minor
had this to say about literacy and world mission:
The printed page is a missionary that can go anywhere and
do so at minimum cost. It enters closed lands and reaches all strata of
society. It does not grow weary. It needs no furlough. It lives longer than any
missionary. It never gets ill. It penetrates through the mind to the heart and
conscience. It has and is producing results everywhere. It has often lain
dormant yet retained its life and bloomed years later.
As part of the overall mission effort in training Christian
leaders, here is a plea to encourage translation of Christian resources as part
of the overall mission effort.
The printed page is a missionary that can go anywhere and do so at minimum cost. - Tweet this
Many who read this blog may know that Christianity is
growing in many places in the global south and east. Much of Christian
literature, however, is in the languages of English, German, French, and
Spanish. Very few books are available in
some very important languages that are critical for world evangelization. It
would be good to encourage ways to get Christian resources into languages
around the world where there are fewer Christian resources.
Consider, for example, the language of Hindi. It is one of the
top five languages spoken worldwide. There are 310 million Hindi speakers in
the world which is over 4.5% of the world’s population. It is also a strategic
and influential language since it is used in many governmental affairs. It is
fair to say that Hindi is the most influential language in India, which is also
the second most populous nation in the world.
Hindi also is a language which many hidden people groups
speak. Some 350 hidden people groups speak this language. Thus, there are
thousands who have yet to hear Jesus Christ can grant salvation from sin, power
for living, and hope for eternity.
Christian materials in English will not have a positive
effect. Some missionaries who work in India have found that books in English do
not communicate because of the past history of British colonialism. For those
who speak Hindi, the Hindi language preserves their culture. English was the
language of the British colonists and with their abuses. They do not want to
lose their Indian identity. Thus, they need Christian materials in Hindi.
While literature can never replace the missionary, we can
significantly aid mission work by sending Christian materials in the language
of the people whom we are trying to reach. Let’s not forget this important
means of reaching the world and discipling new believers!