Posts Tagged: Missions
Seminaries and graduate schools
around the world are asking for
PhD holders to come as missionaries and teach Bible and theology. I know
of one major seminary in Europe who posted their openings in a major
evangelical magazine, only to find no takers. Why is this and how can we
Why They Are Hard to Find
1. God has not called them.
This is simple enough. To go to another culture with your wife and
kids usually requires God to uproot you in some way that is so clear that you
believe God is leading you to the field.
2. Some think raising money
is below their degree. I only write this because I have heard it so
often. Raising support is for the M.Div. students, so I have been told.
It is for the staff of some campus ministry or for helping orphans and
those on the margins of society. I know of many that would rather work at
Starbucks or UPS than ask people for their support to go overseas.
3. It is a career killer,
or maybe better an inhibitor. You can't participate at ETS/SBL. Your library (if you have one) is more limited. The education level of the students (in some
cases) is at a much lower level then what you find in the US (though that seems
to be changing for the worse here). Their colleagues might not be as
educated and able to provide them helpful feedback or sharpening of ones own skills.
4. It may involve learning
ANOTHER language. Most PhD students have learned Greek, Hebrew, German
and French and now we are asking them to potentially teach it all in another
language. This is a real challenge. Who wants to spend 2-3 years trying to master
Japanese in order to teach Greek when your mother tongue in English after
having spent years toiling with participles?
5. You don't have very many friends who can support you. One reality that faces graduates is that in the last six years you have probably lived in three different locations, and in each locations you probably did not make a lot of friends. You have spent a lot of time in libraries or have probably only gotten to know your fellow classmates.
6. You can still teach
modular classes overseas without leaving your job in the US.
7. Debt. Plain and
simple, going to school costs a lot of money. Very few escape with a PhD
and less than $45K of school loans from the various institutions they have
attended (at least in my experience).
How The Church Can Help
1. Pray God calls them (or
me or you). There is such a great need for well-trained, godly, pastoral
2. Challenge the belief
that fundraising is not for them. Have them read Steve Shadrach's Viewpoints.
It could be that one of the reasons people have a hard time asking for
support is because they do not think the people around them are generous.
That is fair. That means we should be even more open in our generosity and encourage them to go by pledging our support.
3. Seminaries in the west must
talk to students about the global Church and do so often. It is not enough to
talk about it in the Missions 101 class. It should permeate all of our
classes. Maybe seminaries should offer some full rides to students interested in teaching in developing countries.
4. Churches should talk about being missional not just in their community, but
around the world. They should also disciple these students and get them into small groups with people in the church who are not theology students, but serving the Lord in different career paths.
5. Create a way to get rid
of the debt. I have prayed that some donor would come to TLI or set up on
their own a fund that would pay off the debt of PhD's if they committed to 5
years of service overseas. Medical doctors have a program
like this. I believe this incentive would unleash many into service. I am thankful for places like Eternity Bible College and Bethlehem College and Seminary that are focused on keeping the costs low.
I am sure there are many reasons people do not go and many more ways we can help them. This is just a starting point.
A sermon by Michael Oh at the recent CROSS Conference.
From a missionary serving in Africa:
- Please do not fill a box with toys. While your child in America would love the latest Barbie, or matchbox car, children overseas do not need, want or know what to do with these toys. Most of your toys will end up in the garbage heap or as household decorations.
- Focus on filling your shoe box with school supplies and hygiene items. I realize school supplies and hygiene items aren't very glamorous, however, they are actually needed and wanted. Combs, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc will go a long ways in helping to provide for a family. Children at least in Northern Ghana love blue and red Bic pens.
- Involve your children. Take your children along with you as you fill a box. Teach them about the importance of giving. Operation Christmas Child is a great way to teach your child about the Nations. Help them to realize that the world is bigger than their school, neighborhood, city, state and nation.
- Fill your shoe box with a new shirt, hat (no Duke hats), and a pair of sunglasses. Remember most places overseas are closer to the equator and most children do not have adequate protection from the sun. Most children own their school uniform and one other shirt, an extra shirt even just a plain colored one will make a child’s day.
- Write a note and provide a picture of your family in your shoe box. Most children who receive a shoe box have had very little interaction with white people. A note/picture will go a long way in making a child’s Christmas. Include in your note a prayer of blessing for the child and his/her family.
- Follow the instructions when filling your shoe box. Instructions can be found on Samaritans purses's web site (How to fill your box). Do not think you know better than Samaritans Purse. They have been filling shoe boxes for a long time and have it down to a science; a lot of headache can be avoided if you follow their instructions.
- Pray over your shoe box. Pray when filling your shoe box. Pray before going shopping for your shoe box. Pray while shopping for your shoe box. Pray when mailing your shoe box. Pray over your box.
- Operation Christmas Child is a great way to open your eyes to the Nations and others who are less fortunate. Do not stop with only filling a shoe box. Consider purchasing a goat, mosquito nets, etc to help serve a family or a community this year. Here is a link to a site which will help you better impact others this Christmas (Baptist Global Response)
Read the whole thing here.
William Carey, who is recognized as the father of modern missions had a huge task ahead of him. He had to convince the church of his time that the Great Commission was still binding. Most believed it was only for the apostles. Here is what Carey wrote:
Our Lord Jesus Christ, a little before his departure, commissioned his apostles to Go, and teach all nations; or, as another evangelist expresses it, Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. This commission was as extensive as possible, and laid them under obligation to disperse themselves into every country of the habitable globe, and preach to all the inhabitants, without exception or limitation. They accordingly went forth in obedience to the command, and the power of God evidently wrought with them. Many attempts of the same kind have been made since their day, and which have been attended with various success; but the work has not been taken up, or prosecuted of late years (except by a few individuals) with that zeal and perseverance with which the primitive Christians went about it. It seems as if many thought the commission was sufficiently put in execution by what the apostles and others have done; that we have enough to do to attend to the salvation of our own countrymen; and that, if God intends the salvation of the heathen, he will some way or other bring them to the gospel, or the gospel to them. It is thus that multitudes sit at ease, and give themselves no concern about the far greater part of their fellow-sinners, who to this day, are lost in ignorance and idolatry. There seems also to be an opinion existing in the minds of some, that because the apostles were extraordinary officers and have no proper successors, and because many things which were right for them to do would be utterly unwarrantable for us, therefore it may not be immediately binding on us to execute the commission, though it was so upon them. To the consideration of such persons I would offer the following observations.
FIRST, If the command of Christ to teach all nations be restricted to the apostles, or those under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost, then that of baptizing should be so too; and every denomination of Christians, except the Quakers, do wrong in baptizing with water at all.
SECONDLY, If the command of Christ to teach all nations be confined to the apostles, then all such ordinary ministers who have endeavoured to carry the gospel to the heathens, have acted without a warrant, and run before they were sent. Yea, and though God has promised the most glorious things to the heathen world by sending his gospel to them, yet whoever goes first, or indeed at all, with that message, unless he have a new and special commission from heaven, must go without any authority for so doing.
THIRDLY, If the command of Christ to teach all nations extend only to the apostles, then, doubtless, the promise of the divine presence in this work must be so limited; but this is worded in such a manner as expressly precludes such an idea. Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the world.
That there are cases in which even a divine command may cease to be binding is admitted - As for instance, if it be repealed, as the ceremonial commandments of the Jewish law; or if there be no subjects in the world for the commanded act to be exercised upon, as in the law of septennial release, which might be dispensed with when there should be no poor in the land to have their debts forgiven, Deut.15:4. Or if, in any particular instance, we can produce a counter-revelation, of equal authority with the original command, as when Paul and Silas were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Bythinia, Acts 16:6,7. Or if, in any case, there be a natural impossibility of putting it into execution. It was not the duty of Paul to preach Christ to the inhabitants of Otaheite, because no such place was then discovered, nor had he any means of coming at them. But none of these things can be alleged by us in behalf of neglect of the commission given by Christ. We cannot say that it is repealed, like the commands of the ceremonial law; nor can we plead that there are no objects for the command to be exercised upon. Alas! the far greater part of the world, as we shall see presently, are still covered with heathen darkness! Nor can we produce a counter-revelation, concerning any particular nation, like that of Paul and Silas, concerning Bythinia; and, if we could, it would not warrant our sitting still and neglecting all the other parts of the world; for Paul and Silas, when forbidden to preach to those heathens, went elsewhere, and preached to others. Neither can we allege a natural impossibility in the case. It has been said that we ought not to force our way, but to wait for the openings, and leadings of Providence; but it might with equal propriety be answered in this case, neither ought we to neglect embracing those openings in providence which daily present themselves to us. What openings of providence do we wait for? We can neither expect to be transported into the heathen world without ordinary means, nor to be endowed with the gift of tongues, &c. when we arrive there. These would not be providential interpositions, but miraculous ones. Where a command exists nothing can be necessary to render it binding but a removal of those obstacles which render obedience impossible, and these are removed already. Natural impossibility can never be pleaded so long as facts exist to prove the contrary. Have not the popish missionaries surmounted all those difficulties which we have generally thought to be insuperable? Have not the missionaries of the Unitas Fratrum, or Moravian Brethren, encountered the scorching heat of Abyssinia, and the frozen climes of Greenland, and Labrador, their difficult languages, and savage manners? Or have not English traders, for the sake of gain, surmounted all those things which have generally been counted insurmountable obstacles in the way of preaching the gospel? Witness the trade to Persia, the East-Indies, China, and Greenland, yea even the accursed Slave-Trade on the coasts of Africa. Men can insinuate themselves into the favour of the most barbarous clans, and uncultivated tribes, for the sake of gain; and how different soever the circumstances of trading and preaching are, yet this will prove the possibility of ministers being introduced there; and if this is but thought a sufficient reason to make the experiment, my point is gained.
It has been said that some learned divines have proved from scripture that the time is not yet come that the heathen should be converted; and that first the witnesses must be slain, and many other prophecies fulfilled. But admitting this to be the case(which I much doubt [footnote: See Edwards on Prayer, on this subject, lately re-printed by Mr Sutcliffe.]) yet if any objection is made from this against preaching to them immediately, it must be founded on one of these things; either that the secret purpose of God is the rule of our duty, and then it must be as bad to pray for them, as to preach to them; or else that none shall be converted in the heathen world till the universal down-pouring of the Spirit in the last days. But this objection comes too late; for the success of the gospel has been very considerable in many places already.
It has been objected that there are multitudes in our own nation, and within our immediate spheres of action, who are as ignorant as the South-Sea savages, and that therefore we have work enough at home, without going into other countries. That there are thousands in our own land as far from God as possible, I readily grant, and that this ought to excite us to ten-fold diligence in our work, And in attempts to spread divine knowledge amongst them is a certain fact; but that it ought to supersede all attempts to spread the gospel in foreign parts seems to want proof. Our own countrymen have the means of grace, and may attend on the word preached if they choose it. They have the means of knowing the truth, and faithful ministers are placed in almost every part of the land, whose spheres of action might be much extended if their congregations were but more hearty and active in the cause: but with them the case is widely different, who have no Bible, no written language, (which many of them have not,) no ministers, no good civil government, nor any of those advantages which we have. Pity therefore, humanity, and much more Christianity, call loudly for every possible exertion to introduce the gospel amongst them.
From the Cripplegate:
Should You Be a Missionary
I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world. Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations. Who will do this?
Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen? Millions have never heard the Name of Jesus. Hundreds of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know nothing of our King. Shall we let them perish?
Can we go to our beds and sleep, while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned? Are we clear of their blood? Have they no claim on us? We ought to put it on this footing – not, ‘Can I prove that I ought to go?’ but, ‘Can I prove that I ought not to go?’ When a man can honestly prove that he ought not to go, then he is clear, but not else. What answer do you give, my brethren? I put it to you man by man.
I am not raising a question among you which I have not honestly put to myself. I have felt that, if some of our leading ministers would go forth, it would have a grand effect in stimulating the churches, and I have honestly asked myself whether I ought to go. After balancing the whole thing, I feel bound to keep my place, and I think the judgment of most Christians would confirm my decision; but I hope that I would readily, and willingly, and cheerfully go abroad if I did not feel that I ought to remain at home.
Brethren, put yourselves through the same process. We must have the heathen converted; God has myriads of His elect among them, we must go and search for them somehow or other. Many difficulties are now removed, all lands are open to us, and distance is almost annihilated. True, we have not the Pentecostal tongues; but languages are now readily acquired, while the art of printing is a full equivalent for the lost gift.
The dangers incident to missions ought not to keep any true man back, even if they were very great, but they are now reduced to a minimum. There are hundreds of places where the cross of Christ is unknown, to which we can go without risk. Who will go?
… Surely there is some self-sacrifice among us yet, and some among us who are willing to be exiled for Jesus. The Mission languishes for want of men. If the men were forthcoming, the liberality of the Church has provided the supply, and yet there are not men to go. I shall never feel, brethren, that we, as a band of men, have done our duty until we see our comrades fighting for Jesus in every land in the van of the conflict. I believe that, if God moves you to go, you will be among the best of missionaries, because you will make the preaching of the gospel the great feature of your work, and that is God’s sure way of power.