I recently got this email that highlights from an “old-school”, “traditional” missionary (which terms have been used to ridicule in some circles, I am now using to praise) in response to my last post. It hightlights the real problem going on in missions: generational superiority. This new generation of missionaries (of which I am the youngest) starting with, it seems, the late 80’s to early 90’s, thought they new a better way to do it that would have more results. The result is an overemphasis on business with an underemphasis on evangelism, the insider movement, etc. I thought you all deserved to see it and learn:
We have been following your ministry through your emails and rejoice in the ministry that you are currently involved. My wife and I read with interest your recent ministry with __________ (an 80 year old missionary to Muslims who recently visited us). I remember back when I was in Bible Scool praying for ________ in our muslim prayer meetings.. he was then just arriving in NA.
We all faced the same issues that you mentioned in your “Stupid” comments. We were in NA in the city where the BCC sent our courses when we did our language study. We were also the last to be expelled in 1969. My wife and I then went to Belgium where we worked for eleven and a half years in an aggressive evangelism ministry in Belgium and in Holland and Nothern France before we went to Malaga. We are glad that an Arab church is now active in that large city.
Over the years we have been witness to the change that has been taking place that grew out of the multicultural view into contextualization and now into insider movements, which are as heavily culture laden as the movement’s criticism of the older missionary efforts. I notice as these movements progressed that the missionaries seemed to be all-concerned with not doing anything to “blow their cover.” Their fear of doing anything openly was conveyed to the national believers. The church became fearful.
We have noticed that when persecution comes, one of the things that seems to come out of it is that the believers are relieved to know that the government now knows they are christians and they meet other believers in the same situation and that after they have been released life goes on.
My view is, preach the gospel, teach other believers, but let them decide how they will carry on their church life. Truth is more important than forms whether Western or contextualized. God converts and the Spirit guides the church. We should not be doing anything that they can do. Let God do His work.
Do not worry about being “stupid!” Do what you believe that Lord has laid on your heart. The biggest obstacle we face is fear. We are afraid of what might happen, but that is a mental hypothetical. We do what God wants and find that our fears are not what we imagined them to be.
We are thankful for the thirty years that God allowed us to be involved in Muslim ministries. We are thankful also that Acts 13:36 reminds us that we serve our own generation. We are glad that the Lord raises up others in the next generation to carry on to see His church planted in remote areas and that one day the church will be completed with those from “every tribe, tongue and nation.” keep on what the Lord is leading you to do and leave the consequences with Him. Don’t let the fears of what others say detract you.
Did you notice what effects this very veteran missionary has observed on the church as the missionaries focus on not “blowing their cover”?