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A Fresh Call For US Missionaries

作者: Hwa Yung
日期: 17.11.2011
Category: 合作关系, 正直与谦卑, 媒体参与

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Ida Scudder was the granddaughter of the first medical missionary sent by the American church. John Scudder, her grandfather, went to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1819, and later to India, as a missionary doctor. Ida was born in 1870 and, after finishing school in the United States, returned to India to be with her ailing mother. But Ida’s mind was made up: She would never be a missionary. She planned to go to Wellesley College, then marry and settle down in the States.

One night, three men in succession knocked on the door of her parents’ home in South India. Each came with this request: "My young wife is dying in childbirth. Can you please come and save her?"

To each, Ida gave the same reply: "I know nothing about doctoring. My father is the doctor. I’ll be glad to go with him to see your wife."

All three men—a Brahmin, another high-caste Hindu, and a Muslim—gave the same reply: "In my religion, no man outside the family is allowed into the women’s quarters."

Ida couldn’t sleep that night. Morning brought news that all three women had died in the night. Ida was never the same again. She graduated from Cornell Medical School in the first class open to women. Returning to India, she started a clinic for women, then a nursing school, then, finally, a medical school. Today Christian Medical College in Vellore remains one of the finest medical schools in India, having produced thousands of nurses and doctors to minister to millions in South Asia.

Stories like this are repeated many times, demonstrating the wonderful work of God among the hundreds of thousands of missionaries sent from American shores over the past 200 years. Many missionaries are remembered with deep affection in the countries they served, for the way they sacrificially brought the gospel. They went as evangelists and pastors, teachers and professors, doctors and nurses, agriculturalists and engineers. Many died in strange lands but have not been forgotten by those whose lives were changed forever by the message of Christ. There is little doubt that in sheer numbers and overall impact, the American church was the dominant force in foreign missions in the 20th century.

Despite such a legacy, many today are questioning the place and vitality of the American missions enterprise.

For example, we hear the call in ecumenical discussions for a moratorium on missions, first made in the late 1960s and ’70s. It is built on the presupposition that Western missions is a form of imperialism and prevents indigenous churches from maturing. One African pastor, John Gatu, asserted that "the churches of the third world must be allowed to find their own identity, and the continuation of the present missionary movement is a hindrance to this selfhood of the church." Filipino bishop emeritus Emerito P. Nacpil argued that "the most missionary service a missionary under the present system can do today in Asia is to go home."

Although these views do not represent those of many Western churches or majority-world ones, they nevertheless reverberate in the background of many missions discussions today, especially in mainline Christian circles.

关键词: Christianity Today, Hwa Yung, mission, partnership, USA, evangelisation, transformation, imperialism, guilt-complex, hope, secularism

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回复 标记 0 支持 反对 jseter (0)

This was a profound article about how to transition from Western guilt into positive, impactful action. It gives me great hope to consider that Americans can “recover a renewed confidence in the gospel” and serve with humility. I appreciate the suggestion to present the tremendous impact salvation can have in the “here and now.” The West’s long-term love affair with heaven and hell has been wrought with biblical inaccuracies and guilt-induced “faith.” I also think Americans should engage in world missions with an open heart and a willingness to learn from other cultures. The opposite of imperialism is allowing another culture to influence our thoughts and beliefs. We all have much to learn from each other.

回复 标记 0 支持 反对 jamie (0)

Thank you for this call to move forward in overcoming the Western guilt complex and partner with the majority world. I think the practical implications of first renewing confidence in the gospel and secondly remembering past mistakes in order to move forward in a spirit of humility, are indeed the means toward genuine Christian partnership. Many Westerners have shifted their focus from the power of the gospel for both eternity and now. It seems they have become focused on one or the other, which also creates disunity between Western churches, as some see the need to emphasize change for now and others emphasize eternity. It is good to be reminded that while past mistakes were made by Westerners, we can not allow guilt to cripple us from attempting reconciliation and partnership. We have so many resources to offer the world.

回复 标记 0 支持 反对 goucla1 (0)

It was refreshing to hear somebody acknowledging the missionary heritage of the United States.  I realize that heritage does not equal contemporary action, but we can learn from history.  Though many U.S. missionaries probably contributed to the spread of Western influences, they are by no means the sole reason.  I agree that U.S.  Missionaries, and the American Church, could use a shot of the vitality found in churches elsewhere.  I agree with Hwa Yung that the American Church has lost confidence in the Gospel.  We are too reliant upon strategies, programs, and not necessarily on the Gospel. 

The American Church needs to move beyond its financial might, and create new chapters of its spiritual and missional heritage.  Revival is needed in congregations, which can hopefully revitalize missionary movements.   

回复 标记 0 支持 反对 brother_edward (1)

If we look to Brazil today, we will see the vitality of Christianity even in the Western world.

Another thing i would like to take note is that, 80% of the money for missions at that congress came from USA. That is not just because USA is a rich country, because others rich countries do not contribute the same. So, let`s look to the amercian people, as brothers and sisters in Christ, that really helped and still help nowadays to spread the gospel.

回复 标记 0 支持 反对 Gardner-Webb_University (0)

Yes. US missionaries do need a fresh call. I believe that it is so easy to lose focus.

回复 标记 0 支持 反对 JoanieD (0)

I like the example of how the International Baptist Churches (IBC) are making across the world. I am unsure of the number of churches they have globally, but I know they are a good many out there. I went to one in Escazu, Costa Rica (CR); it was an amazing connection for me! I met many missionaries from the US, and from other countries as well. What they are doing in Costa Rica, and the other countries IBC’s go into is a fantastic example for other denominations, and groups of christians as a whole, to be motivated to become as.

While in CR I also came in contact with many Jehovah Witness’s; they were even trying to mission to the (us) American’s there. Hey, I gotta give them credit for the dedication. I came across a large number of Costa Ricans that were Jehova Witness converts because of the many missionaries there. They are working harder than ’we’ are... I’m just saying...

回复 标记 0 支持 反对 padre_todd (0)

Thank you for your article and insights.  As a pastor in the United States, I appreciate your comments.  I think you are right in that it is time for the church in the United States to understand its past mistakes while at the same time humbly renewing its call to missions.  As Christians, we have all made mistakes and errors.  But thanks be to God, there is forgiveness through Christ.  We cannot allow our past mistakes to hinder our commitment to the Great Comission.  Instead, we need to learn from our errors as we join together with other Christians from around the world in proclaiming the message of Christ.  As you noted, it is time for the western and non-western churches to partner together in missions because "the task is far too big for any one group to manage on its own."  It is my prayer that God will give us all a new vision for reaching teh globalized world.

回复 标记 0 支持 反对 japhia1906 (0)
@ padre_todd:

I totally concur. Your prayer is mine is well. Perhaps we will see those partnerships come to fruition and I think that this platform will be a guiding force in that. I pray also that it is in our lifetime as the need is so very great right now.





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