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Fighting To Surrender

In the kingdom of God, surrender is fought for. The cost must be counted, and the yes must be found valuable enough to strengthen. Are we willing to invest our hearts in the battle even at great personal cost, for the sake of walking worthy of the calling we have received?  

When I got to the destination of my second midterm trip, things did not go as I expected. My first midterm I loved, in fact I would consider those months some of the best times of my life so far. Yet, my second mid term did not contain the instant ecstasy and joy I anticipated. Subconsciously I had begun to expect that if God was in it, then surely it would come easy. I expected it to be easy and to feel glorious like the first time. Yet it was not easy. Here is an excerpt from my journal. “It’s only two days in, but I don’t like it yet. In the natural, this place isn’t a good fit for me. I’m tired, disappointed, discouraged and I just plain don’t like it here so far.” To my dismay these feelings dragged into the tript longer and longer.  

I loved the location of my first midterm, so there was a strong temptation to compare or settle into disappointment. But a wise man once said comparison is the thief of joy. It may not have been what I expected, but often the biggest moments of growth come from unexpected places. Sometimes we learn more in the difficult than we learn in the easy because it forces us to get over our self-reliance and express our dependence on God. Maybe God was looking to test my yes to Him and my willingness to go anywhere.

I found it easy to look at the difficulties. I am an introvert, I get anxious in crowds and cities, and so being thrust into a global city with constant noise and chaos was overwhelming to say the least at first. I craved silence and the feeling of being totally alone. But maybe God wanted me to practice what I preach, and let my peace be more rooted in Him than in my circumstances. Maybe God brought me there because He was looking for a context to weed out roots of self-reliance and pride that had been hiding in my heart. So it was hard, but maybe God was looking to teach me that hard does not have to equate unfruitful or not worthwhile. Maybe I needed to learn to have a bad day and still be able to with confidence say it is well with my soul. In the chaos of the city I found a God whose peace was bigger than the storm. In the end it was more than worth it all.

There came a time on the trip that I had to make a choice. I could not keep expecting my joy to return only when my circumstance changed, and I could not keep serving God without a heartfelt love for the people I was ministering to. But my heart was stubborn. I wanted to love them and enjoy it, but try as I may, I could not conjure up feelings of love for the place or the people. I could not guilt myself into sincerity. I had to surrender all of my feelings and expectations, and fall into the embrace of my Father. I had to confess my weakness and dependence on Him. At the end of the day, I only had one choice. It all came down to, do I say yes or no. I am either fully in or I don’t play the game. Christ gets everything, or He gets nothing. If I conditioned my yes to whether or not I like it or feel it suits me, then I would be merely be saying yes to my own comfort and not to the glory of God. I could no longer dictate to God what saying yes to Him must look or feel like. I was either going to live fully surrendered to Him or I was going to live for myself, because living surrendered until I think I know better is merely using God. So every day I would wake up needing to choose again to love, and love says yes. Love necessitates a fully surrendered, unconditional yes.

So I committed to wrestle with the yes and fight to live surrendered. Every day I got on my knees and on my face and asked God to change my heart. I told Him that no matter the cost, no matter what I felt, and no matter what it looked like I would choose to say yes to Him. I asked Him to show me what He felt for nation in which I lived. And the strange thing is, once I said yes, I began to love the people of the land. Individual by individual God began to change my heart.

There would be moments when Holy Spirit would bring to my mind images of my Jesus on a cross. And in those moments I would break. In those moments everything I did or did not feel would shatter. I found that more than I loved a feeling, I love my Jesus. It is not okay that the nation I was in did not sing to Him. When I think of my Jesus hanging on a cross everything changes. He is enough. He is always enough. Within this revelation I found my heart began to overflow with emotions deeper than words can express. The worth and beauty of Jesus birthed a joy in a my soul that nothing in the world can compare to. No amount of worldly comfort, satisfaction, self-pity or even grandeur can compare to the glory of His face. When I said yes, when time after time I got on my knees and surrendered, He would come and take my face in His hands and meet my gaze. As I would look into His face, the childishness of the moments before would begin to dawn on me. Oh how hard I felt I fought, how grand I thought my efforts, when in reality I had done nothing in comparison to what He had first done for me. My battle to say yes was nothing more than letting go of filthy slime in exchange for a treasure greater than I could ever have imagined.

It is this revelation that will sustain me and keep me from burnout. It is his revelation that will teach me to rest and be still even in the midst of the chaos of a city far from God. It is this revelation that will keep me steadfast for 5, 10, 20 and even 90 years. It is this revelation that will keep peace and hope rooted in my soul no matter what is against me. It is this revelation that will sustain me regardless of what my eyes may see.

It is good to learn that an unconditional yes is something that is fought for. Both in its establishment and in the maintaining it is worth the cost. But in the end what I most learned, that as much as we fight to surrender we will never fight as hard as He Himself has fought for us. As much as we work to give Him a yes that is wholehearted and unconditional, we work knowing that He first gave us His yes and His all. We give all knowing that what we get is greater than what we give, for we can never outgive God. He is worthy of it all.

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History of the Modern Protestant Missions Movement

Part 3

Four years after the Edinburg Conference, the world was gripped by the sudden outbreak of one of the worst military conflicts in the history of the earth- the First World War. Protestant missions efforts were interrupted as the world was engulfed in this crisis. By the time the dust cleared in 1918, the entire world was nearly unrecognizable- the old order had been swept away in the conflict.

The era of empires had come crashing down. Gone was the German, Russian and Ottoman Empires and deeply broken were those of the British and French. Besides the immediate infrastructural devastation of Western Europe, the deaths of over 16 million young men in combat and 40 million people from the simultaneous global flu pandemic, a much deeper loss had taken place. The deep sense of optimism in human progress, prosperity and the advancement of Western utopianism that had marked the 19th century was dashed to pieces in the trench warfare of the Great War.

This affected all levels of society across the world. Europe’s prosperity and peace had been understood to be the success of not just Western ideology and culture but of Christianity itself. The Postmillennialism that had marked early Western missions exploits was harnessed to this concept and when it all came crashing down this theology was abandoned- it had been destroyed in the war along with the old order. In the face of such unspeakable suffering, people no longer believed that the Kingdom of God would physically advance unhindered towards greater levels of glory, prosperity and victory in unrelenting progress. Deep pessimism and disillusionment fell upon the modern Western world. More than the failure of Western civilization, the First World War was seen in the eyes of many to be the failure of Christianity.

Many people -both Christian and otherwise- began to question the legitimacy of Christianity itself. If Europe -the beacon of Christianity in the world- could completely destroy itself in such a catastrophe, how could Christianity as a faith be legitimate? This disillusionment affected even the most devout believers; the entire superstructure of Western Christianity felt the shock to the system- including the missions movement.  

The SVM was one of many organizations deeply impacted by the devastation of the war. In their 1919 conference, the former optimistic tone of SVM leaders had been replaced with a need to defend the faith itself in the face of disillusionment among the students present. Robert Speer is quoted in his address to those present at the conference as saying, “I am going to open quite candidly the questions that some of you have been discussing right here in these days as to whether there is worth enough in our Christian faith… There are men here in this conference, women too, who are saying that Christianity here in America, and as expressed by this Student Volunteer Convention, is a failure… No, Jesus hasn’t failed, and He isn’t going to fail. But I tell you men and women that there is a danger here of failure tonight- that we ourselves may fail.” In spite of the pleas of leaders, the disillusionment among SVM students continued. An observer at their conference five years later is quoted as saying, “There was not any expression or conviction on the part of the students that the way of Jesus is the way.” In fact, although the SVM would continue to make a tremendous impact on the missions world for many more years, its terminal end can be traced back to this traumatic post-war period.

This was not exclusive to only SVM. Rather, the events within the ranks of SVM was symptomatic of a broader and more general chagrin within the Protestant missions world. Along with the psychological challenge from the war, the expenses of the war began to effect missions organizations and many of them went into debt. Many people began to stop giving to missions exploits and it is reported that many students interviewed for missions admitted that their main focus was not missions, but was to secure a career to make lots of money. Students, long the bulk of the missionary movement, were now unenthusiastic about missions. Recruitment numbers dropped dramatically and missions agencies began to dwindle. This represented the beginning of a major decline in Western Protestant missions.

The pre-war world and framework that Protestant missions had functioned within had been broken by the conflict in Europe. The financial, cultural, emotional and theological challenges from World War 1 nearly ended the Protestant missions movement. It would not be for another twenty years that it would once again gain momentum. However, when that momentum resumed, it would come back with an incredible shift in global missions strategy- one that has remained with us to this day.

 

The Third Era- Unreached People Groups (1935- Present)

 

During the difficult years of the early 20th century, in the midst of great challenges to Protestant missions, two men stood out as significant influential leaders in their generation. Their contributions to the advancement of the Great Commission -comparable to that of Carey and Taylor- have had far reaching effects that are still felt to this day in that they were critical in the initiation of the Third Era of Protestant missions. These men are Cameron Townsend and Donald McGavran.

Cameron Townsend was born in Eastvale, California on July 9, 1896. While attending Occidental College in Los Angeles during his junior year, John Mott of the SVM visited the campus and called the student body to give their lives for missions. Cameron soon responded to the call by meeting with Mott, joining the Student Volunteer Movement and dedicating his life to missions. Although he was part of the armed forces in the war, he was challenged by a friend to honor his commitment to the SVM and made the decision to request to be discharged and pursue missions in Guatemala.

He left for Guatemala in August of 1917 and committed to stay there for one year. Towards the end of his initial commitment, he had an encounter with an indigenous Cakchiquel Indian that approached him as he was distributing Spanish Bibles. The man asked him what the Bible was and Townsend explained what it was God’s very word. The Cakchiquel Indian famously reported to have said, “If your God is so smart, why doesn’t he speak my language?”. Cameron suddenly realized that although the man lived in a predominantly Spanish speaking country, he spoke no Spanish whatsoever.

This encounter marked him in a significant way. He soon met with an older group of missionaries who had already concluded the need to reach indigenous populations in their own languages and then began his work. At the age of 23, he decided to remain in Guatemala for 13 more years, dedicating 10 of those years to translating the Bible into the Cakchiquel language. He realized that although much of the geography of the world was being reached by Protestant missions, there was an entirely new and much more nuanced frontier that was unreached: distinct ethnic peoples.

Cameron founded Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1934. This new mission agency focused on teaching linguistics as a means to reach these new frontiers. Initially, Cameron estimated there were about 500 people groups in the earth. He revised these numbers several times and today they are estimated at over 5000. There are still roughly about 3000 languages without the Bible translated in the earth. Cameron is credited for the initiation of the Third Era of missions. The focus of this new era transcended the traditional geographic focus of missions and instead concentrated on ethnic people groups.

Meanwhile, as Townsend was discovering the linguistic nuances of people groups in Guatemala, Donald McGavran was discovering the social and cultural barriers in India. McGavran was born in Damoh, India in 1897 as a third generation missionary. In 1919, while a student at Butler University, McGavran visited Des Moines, Iowa to attend an SVM convention and was deeply influenced by John Mott. McGavran described the event as, “There is became clear to me that God was calling me to be a missionary, that He was commanding me to carry out the Great Commission”.

McGavran returned to India in 1923 and was deeply influenced by the anthropological work of J.W. Pickett who documented mass people movements to Christ in India. McGavran was troubled by the slow growth of his churches while at the same time he saw many “people movements” (thousands of people in groups) scattered across India coming to the Lord. In this time, he began see the distinct cultural and social barriers in India and started to promote the reality of homogenous units of people which are today referred to as “people groups”. McGavran’s missiological work in his book, “Bridges of God” helped to formalize the understanding of distinct boundaries within different regions that constituted unique ethnic “people groups”.

The collective work of Townsend and McGavran (both greatly impacted by the Student Volunteer Mission Movement) framed the new era of missions by calling attention to the various ethnolinguistic people groups in the earth as opposed to the more simplified geographical focus in past generations.

The progressive decline in Protestant missions that had came about after the First World War came to an end after the Second World War in 1945. The missions movement was being revitalized by thousands of veterans who were returning from Europe and the Pacific with a deep burden to bring the gospel to the places they saw that had been ravaged by the war. In 1946, 575 students from 151 different schools gathered at the University of Toronto to dream for a fresh student movement for missions. Two years later, in 1948, they gathered for another missions convention at the University of Illinois, Urbana. Urbana student missions conventions have continued to this day with the expressed purpose of mobilization for the Great Commission.

Out of the Urbana conventions, many veterans from the Second World War who had a desire to return to the foreign lands to bring the gospel were sent back out as missionaries. The experience of the war had prepared many of them so that they went out into the missions field with extraordinary effectivity. Collectively, God used them to rally another massive student-led missions movement. In the late 1940’s through the early 1950’s, more students went overseas for missions than in any other time in history- including the great Student Volunteer Missions Movement which by this time was nearly discontinued. It was this missions thrust that produced such incredible laborers as Jim Elliot, who would be martyred in Ecuador in 1956 for the sake of the gospel of Jesus.

Although the students of the 1960’s embraced more anti-government and liberal activism (thus resulting in a decline of missionaries) the 1970’s witnessed an increase of missions interest through the Urbana student missionary conventions and the Jesus Movement. Within a few years, the amount of students signing up for missions increased by nearly ten times that of 1970.

In July of 1974, one of the most significant missions conferences in history was held in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Lausanne Congress of 1974 (Also known as the First International Congress on World Evangelization) was called together by Billy Graham for a discussion on the present state of missions. With over 150 nations represented, Lausanne sought to follow in succession from the 1910 Edinburgh Conference and strategized for the completion of the Great Commission. Out of the congress the Lausanne Covenant (one of the great manifestos on world missions) was produced and signed by nearly three thousand leaders.

Ralph Winter, one of the most influential men in the history of missions attended the congress. He is widely acknowledged to be just as catalytic in the development of Protestant missions as Carey, Taylor, Townsend, and McGavran. Winter understood that the gospel does not naturally transfer from different cultures or castes even if the people share the same language. It was at the Lausanne Congress that Winter championed the work of Townsend and McGavran and popularized the concept of unreached people groups using an understanding of the biblical word ethnos as a missions strategy. He declared that for the Great Commission to be fulfilled, the gospel had to be planted in each culturally unique ethnolinguistic people group. His speech took Lausanne by storm.

Six years later, in 1980, another missions conference was held in Edinburgh, Scotland known as The Edinburgh- 1980 World Consultation on Frontier Missions. At the time, it was the largest missions conference in the history of Christianity. Remarkably, a third of those present at Edinburgh were indigenous representatives from the Global South representing 57 mission agencies- in 1910 there had been none. In Edinburgh, the strategy of focusing missions to unreached ethnolinguistic people groups became solidified. As a result of these developments, it is generally regarded that the Second Era of missions found its completion in 1980 as the missions world transitioned to a premier focus of unreached and unengaged peoples.

In 1989, at the Second International Congress on World Evangelization (Lausanne II) in Manilla, Christian missionary strategist Luis Bush called for a focused missional thrust into the “Resistant Belt” of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Following the strategy of unreached people groups missions, Bush and his associates understood that the remaining task of the world evangelism could only be accomplished by pushing into this massive “Belt”. The next year, Bush and his wife Doris used software to analyze this “Resistant Belt” region between 10 and 40 degrees north latitude and coined the famous term, “the 10/40 Window”. This region, the world of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism was referred to in 1911 by the great missionary Samuel Zwemer as the, “unoccupied fields” of the earth.

 

Finishing the Task

 

Since 1990, the world of missions has continued to evolve. The Toronto and Brownsville revivals in the mid-nineties fueled the fire of world evangelization and served the development of the missional Global South tremendously. Today, the Christian world is no longer Western-led. The Global South is no longer “developing”. In many ways, it has already emerged and has taken the lead in the task of world evangelization.

Today, the church in Africa and Asia represents over 60% of the world’s population of Christians. Meanwhile, the church of Europe is dying out. The church of America has maintained roughly the same growth ratio as the year 1900. In 1900, there were 8 million Christians in Africa; in 2000, there were 351 million. African evangelicals send out approximately 13,000 missionaries a year.

The story is similar in Asia. In 1900 there were around 22 million Christians. In 2005 there are estimated 370 million believers, making Christianity the fastest growing religion in Asia.

In Latin America there were estimated 700,000 evangelicals in 1900. By 2000 the numbers had grown to over 55 million believers.

Today the missions dynamics are no longer primarily west-to-east. The Global South has assumed a significant role in the sending of missionaries There are more African missionaries than European ones. Missionaries from Brazil travel across the earth sharing the good news of Jesus. In China, the “Back to Jerusalem” missionary movement has already begun and endeavors to send hundreds of thousands of missionaries across the 10/40 Window.

The task remains massive. After twenty centuries of missions activity there is still about 27% of the world that remains unreached (comprising over 7000 people groups). Since 1974, the strategy in place is to reach ethnic people groups with the gospel- an effort that transcends geopolitical boundaries and classical missions strategies. Today, the West no longer leads the charge but rather partners shoulder to shoulder with the Global South.

Since the day that Jesus stood before His disciples and friends and gave them the Great Commision He has guided generations of faithful men and women towards its completion. He promised that the good news of His coming Kingdom would be spread across the earth as a testimony to every ethnos and then He would return to restore all things. If there is one thing that can be drawn from looking back on the last 300 years of Protestant Missions history, it’s that Jesus is alive. He is with us. He is active in His Church in the earth by His Spirit. He has driven and is driving all of our missions efforts to a marvelous conclusion and the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church. As we now turn our eyes ahead to what lies before us and as we seek to finish this Great Commission, we can be certain of His most blessed and profound promise: “Lo I am with you always, even to the very end of the age”.

 

 

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History of the Modern Protestant Missions Movement

Part 2

Pressing On

The collective force of the first two Great Awakenings transformed the Protestant world from a mere theological and ecclesiological western European movement into a pioneering missional force to be reckoned with, piercing nearly every known nation in the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The 19th century, known as the, “Great Century” of missions, witnessed the spread and advancement of the gospel like no other prior century in history. The outpourings of God’s Spirit in Europe and the Americas had created a mighty force of sacrificial missionaries, most of whom lost their lives as heralds of the message of the cross of Jesus on the coastlands of Asia and Africa.

The era of the Second Great Awakening came to a close in a very turbulent and transitional time in America, most notably with the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 and an unprecedented influx of immigrants from Europe and Asia starting around 1850. In this time it is estimated that over 20 million immigrants moved to America from central and eastern Europe as well as Asia. At the same time, Darwinism and higher criticism were flooding over into the Americas from Europe, challenging much of the old order of Christian thinking and society. It was in this context of transition and crisis that God began to stir hearts of believers once again for a new era of missions.

We will continue to examine the history of Protestant missions starting from the mid 19th century all the way to today. The last 150 years has witnessed an even greater development and diversification of missions across the nations of the earth. This development has dramatically changed the face of world missions so that today the Global South (the non-Western world) has taken the leading role in the task of world evangelisation. Through an examination of the last 150 years of missions history we can begin to understand how a series of interrelated events crescendoed to produce our current missional focus in the nations: missions targeting unreached ethnolinguistic peoples in the predominantly North African, Middle Eastern and Asian world. We pick up our story just one month after the end of the American Civil War in the summer of 1865 on the beaches of southern England.

Transition to The Second Era – Inlands (1865-1980) & Hudson Taylor

The results of the First Era of missions had been remarkable. Although slow to gain momentum and at a tremendous cost, (nearly every missionary succumbed to death in their endeavors on the coastlands) the First Era of missions finally stabilized into a magnificent success as the gospel began to take root in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific. In fact, by 1865, many missionaries of the First Era were beginning to come home due to the overwhelming success of their church planting efforts in the coastlands. Many indigenous people had come to the faith in Christ and the First Era missionaries believed that, in a sense, their job was finished.

This marked a transitional overlapping period from roughly 1865-1910 where First Era, coastlands missions began to slowly decline while the Second Era missions (directed towards penetrating the inlands of the Asian and African continents) began to gain speed. It is important to note that in spite of the numerous missions societies produced out of the Haystack Prayer Meeting of 1806, the First Era of missions was marked by European dominance. It would not be until the beginning of the Second Era in 1865 that America began to assume a premier role in the task of world evangelization. It was in this year that a man named Hudson Taylor took the scene to catalyze a new movement of Protestant missions.

Hudson Taylor was born May 21, 1832 in Yorkshire, England to a Methodist family. His father was a lay preacher and chemist in the Yorkshire area. It is said that at Hudson’s birth, his parents who had a fascination with the Far East, prayed to the Lord, “Grant that he may work for You in China”. After abandoning the faith of his parents for several years as a young man, he had a conversion experience at the age of 17 in the year 1849. Immediately, Hudson had a burden for the gospel to go to China. In preparation to be a missionary, he began to teach himself Mandarin, Latin, Hebrew and Greek while working as a medical assistant. During this time, Taylor interacted with missionaries to Baghdad who were part of the well known Plymouth Brethren, of which George Müller was a member.

During the time Taylor was practicing medicine and preparing to move overseas, much of England’s focus and talk was interestingly enough on China. In the 1850’s the horrific Taiping Civil War broke out across China led by a religious fanatic named Hong Xiuquan. Xiuquan, having interacted with First Era missionaries years prior, adopted a pseudo-Christianity syncretized with Confucianism and Daoism. He soon established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and declared himself to be the actual younger brother of Jesus Christ that could speak on behalf of the Holy Trinity. Xiquan launched a civil war to control all of China that killed upwards of 70 million people before he was finally defeated in 1864. Tragically, the erroneous impression in England was that this was a massive people movement to Christ in China. Out of news of this “people movement”, the Chinese Evangelisation Society was formed in 1853 to prepare for missionaries to be sent into China- Hudson Taylor was sent as their first missionary at the age of 22.

After a difficult five month voyage from England, Taylor landed in Shanghai March 1, 1854 and was met with the astounding horror of the Taiping Civil War. Far from a great people movement to Christ, his first year overseas was marked with the chaos of the war and very little receptivity to his message. Along with the trial of the war, Taylor also experienced challenges in his interactions with the First Era missionaries who were content to remain ministering in the cities on the coastlands. Taylor viewed the missionaries on the coastlands as worldly and lethargic, who spent far too much time with English businessmen. Regardless of whether or not his view was accurate, Taylor intended to push beyond the status quo of the missions of the day and press into the interior of China. During his time, Taylor pioneered some of the earliest and most famous forms of contextualization to the Chinese culture by wearing traditional Chinese clothing and hairstyles instead of the typical Western garb of his contemporaries. While this choice caused great consternation among other Christians both in China and abroad, Taylor began to see an immediate openness among the Chinese people to his gospel message. This pioneering contextualization has transformed the way Protestants approach foreign cultures in missions even to this day.

Trials continued to follow him. At one point, all of his medical supplies were destroyed in a fire in Shanghai. Another time he was robbed of almost everything he owned while traveling across China. The next year in 1857, Taylor experienced great difficulty with his missions agency who could no longer continue to pay him and his fellow workers. After an encouraging letter from George Müller to live by faith, Taylor resigned from the Chinese Evangelisation Society and continued independently. The next year he married Maria Dyer (a fellow missionary who at the time was serving under Mary Aldersey, reputed to be the first woman missionary to China) and continued to serve in Ningpo with a new church plant of 21 people until 1861, when he was forced to temporarily return to England due to health problems.

It was on this furlough in England that the Second Era of missions was officially born. He spent his time on furlough traveling the nation to mobilize missions to China and the unreached world. On this trip he became friends with Charles Spurgeon, who would become a lifelong supporter of Taylor’s mission. During this time, Taylor was invited by a friend to take a break from traveling and come to the beaches of Brighton in southern England.

While walking the beaches of Brighton, he felt the overwhelming burden of the Lord for the millions of lost in China and had a dramatic encounter with the Jesus that changed the course of history. In that moment, Hudson Taylor dedicated his life in an even greater measure to the advancement of the gospel in the unreached inland provinces of China. June 25, 1865, on the sands of Brighton Beach, China Inland Mission was born as an expression of his dedication to this advancement.

Immediately Taylor asked the Lord for 24 more missionaries for all of the unreached provinces in China and Mongolia- a massive 25% increase from what was already present on the field. In the next few years, over 100 missionaries would go to the missions field through China Inland Mission. Over half of those missionaries would be martyred years later in the infamous Boxer Rebellion of 1900, much to the agony of Taylor who received reports of their deaths while visiting England on a separate furlough.

He returned to China in 1866 and would dedicate the rest of his life ministering there as a missionary in the interior of the nation. Through many difficult years, and through the loss of two wives and several children to infirmity, he paid a tremendous price to carry out God’s will in his generation. On June 3, 1905, Hudson Taylor died in Changsha, China. He was buried in Zhenjiang along the Yangtze River next to the love of his life, his first wife Maria, who had been buried there 35 years before.

Taylor’s decision on the sands of Brighton Beach to give himself entirely into the grace of God for the advancement of world missions opened the way for the birth of China Inland Mission, which would become the largest Protestant missions agency in the world by the time of his death and would fling wide the doors for the Second Era of missions. The legacy of CIM (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship International) is still felt to this day and the work of Hudson Taylor will be spoken of for ages to come.

The Student Volunteer Missions Movement

While Hudson Taylor was pioneering missions in China, God was raising up a mighty missions movement in the United States. The Student Volunteer Missions (SVM) Movement was beginning to form in the hearts and minds of young believers across the country. This movement became perhaps the single greatest missions force in North American history and accelerated the sending and going of laborers far beyond anything that Protestantism had witnessed up to that point.

The SVM had its origins in the famous Haystack Prayer Meeting of 1806. Out of that prayer meeting at Williams College numerous missions societies and organizations were born, including the Society of Brethren at Andover Theological Seminary in Newton, Massachusetts. One of its members, a man by the name of Royal Wilder, left for India as a missionary in 1846 and returned with his family in 1877. Royal’s son, Robert was to become a premier leader in the upcoming missions movement.

Robert Wilder was born in India in 1863 and returned to America at age 14. He joined Princeton University and began to pray with several students on campus for missions and revival in Princeton. During that time he founded the “Princeton Foreign Mission Society” and continued to pray fervently with fellow students and his sister Grace on a weekly basis for God to raise up 1000 missionaries to be sent overseas. Their society declared of themselves, “willing and desirous, God permitting, to go to the unevangelized portions of the world”.

In the same year, Luther Wishard became the first secretary of the new intercollegiate YMCA division. Luther’s desire was not only for the gospel to impact college campuses through the YMCA, but also for it to impact the nations through world missions. In 1879, Wishard helped to organize the first missions department of the intercollegiate YMCA. He was deeply inspired by the events at the Haystack Prayer Meeting and the life of Samuel Mills and traveled to Williams College to pray for a missions movement. At the site of the old prayer meeting, along the river, Luther prayed, “Lord, do it again. Where water once flowed, let it flow again.” Although he greatly desired to be a missionary, he felt the burden of the Lord to mobilize a generation of students for the task of world evangelization. After his trip to Williams College, he sought to host a summer conference for college students and left to seek out revivalist D.L. Moody to help in this endeavor.

D.L. Moody, the great American evangelist, had visited Britain in 1882 to tour the country and preach the gospel. During this year, he visited the university of Cambridge and shared the gospel and mobilized for world missions. The results were staggering. Many Cambridge students began to sign up for local missions societies to go overseas. During this time, there was an increasing interest among the students in the recently formed China Inland Mission.

Out of Moody’s meetings in Cambridge, the Holy Spirit began to move across the hearts of seven brilliant young students in particular for missions overseas. After graduation, they traveled throughout England and Scotland visiting colleges and churches mobilizing for world missions. These became known as the Cambridge Seven. In February of 1885, after several months of traveling, the Cambridge Seven sailed to China to give their lives for missions. One of the seven, a man named Charles Thomas, would later become the successor to Hudson Taylor as the director of CIM. The news of the Cambridge Seven began to sweep through American colleges and many students became deeply inspired by their example to pursue missions.  It was out of these events that Luther Wishard sought out the help of D.L Moody and others for the mobilization of missionaries from the American college campuses.

In 1886, Wishard approached Moody about hosting a month long summer Bible conference at his Mount Hermon School for Boys in Massachusetts. Moody, although uncertain that students would want to take a month of their summer for the conference, finally agreed to host it. Beginning July 7, 1886, the conference continued until August 1. Although Wishard desired for students to be raised up for world missions, the conference itself did not have a specific agenda. 251 young men from 89 colleges across America attended and numerous speakers and professors came to speak and share during the duration of the conference. Remarkably, in spite of Wishard’s missions zeal, there was no real missional emphasis present during the conference initially. This emphasis would come from the student body itself, led by Robert Wilder.

Wilder sent word during the conference that any students who were interested in missions should join in a special meeting. Out of that meeting, 21 students joined the Princeton Foreign Mission Society. Soon the 21 students began to spread the word to the broader student body about the need of missionaries. They approached several leaders to share on missions but in particular they asked a well known pastor present named A.T. Pierson to share on the Great Commission at one of the main sessions. Pierson’s call to evangelize the world in their generation shook the conference with a missions spirit and by the end of the conference 100 students signed up to give their lives as missionaries. They became known as the “Mount Hermon 100” and with this the SVM was born.

The next year, Wilder and an associate John Forman traveled across America preaching at almost 200 college campuses mobilizing for world missions. Within two years over 5000 students had signed the pledge to give their lives as missionaries. In 1888, the “Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions” was officially established and John Mott, one of the original 100, was chosen to serve as chairman. Within five years of Mount Hermon there were 6200 student volunteers from 352 schools in the United States and Canada, encompassing a vast array of denominations and social backgrounds. Their watchword, officially adopted in 1889, was, “The Evangelisation of the World in This Generation”. The leaders of this movement truly believed that the completion of the Great Commission was possible in their generation and they proved it by the incredible thrust of missionaries into the unreached, inland world.

Over 40% of the students went to China, Japan, Korea and other parts of Southeast Asia. 21% went to India, Burma and Sri Lanka. The rest went to Africa, Iran, the Ottoman Empire, Arabia and many other unreached places. In 1890, there were only 934 Protestant missionaries on the field. By the end of the 1920’s, there were over 14,000 missionaries-  half of whom had signed on through the SVM.

The powerful Student Volunteer Movement pierced into the darkness of the unreached inland world for decades. It is undisputed that the Protestant missions thrust was spearheaded for years by college students. To this day, the SVM represents the single greatest movement of missionaries to the nations in American history.

Although the First World War caused the movement to go into terminal decline, by 1945 the SVM in total had rallied over 100,000 volunteers with over 20,500 actually sent as missionaries (the rest remained to mobilize). Because of the unimaginably wild success of the Student Volunteer Missions Movement, the United States took the leading role in the advancement of world missions, which it would maintain for the better part of a century.

Turbulence & Transition of the Early 20th Century

As the “Great Century” of world missions came to a close so did the era of relatively unchallenged progress in Protestant missions. Although there were always challenges to the objective of world evangelisation, (such as theological opposition, the daunting task of mobilization and martyrdom to name a few) the 19th century witnessed a steady overwhelming progress of missions efforts.

This progress is to be understood within the framework of the broader 19th century social and theological optimism. The Western world of the mid to late 19th century was deeply optimistic due to the social and cultural expansion of Westernism through colonial influence. The Industrial Revolution had ushered in a new era of technological and economic growth; It seemed that anything was possible.

Even in the Protestant missions world, the continued prevalence of Postmillennial theology and the increased expansion of the gospel on the earth through the enormous missions exploits crystalized this sense of mirthful optimism. In the last few decades of the 19th century it seemed that no matter where one looked, societal progress was everywhere. All of this began to come crashing down at the turn of the century through a series of events culminating in the outbreak of the First World War. In the midst of this turbulence there was a deep undercurrent of transition running through the Protestant missions world; the balance of global mission leadership was beginning to shift away from the West.

In April and May of 1900, Protestant missions leaders from various denominations gathered from across the nation in New York to strategize for the advancement of world missions. They discussed the need to mobilize more Christian congregations and turn the public support towards missions in a greater measure. This became known as the New York 1900 Ecumenical Missionary Conference. The leaders present shared on the testimony of the magnificent expansion of Christianity during the 19th century as well as to cast vision and discuss strategy for the new century that was upon them. The sense at the conference was one of great triumph and joyful expectation of what was to come.

The very next month, in June 1900, the Boxer Rebellion in China took a tragic turn after one of the governors of northern China declared war against Western powers and Christians in particular. In July, 44 Christians from missionary families were massacred after being promised shelter in a provincial capital in the infamous Taiyuan Massacre.

By the end of the rebellion, 136 Protestant missionaries, 53 of their children (many of them served with China Inland Mission) and 2,000 Chinese Protestants were martyred by the rebels. These Protestants became known as the China Martyrs of 1900. Along with Protestant martyrs, 47 Catholic priests and nuns, over 30,000 Chinese Catholics and several hundred Russian Orthodox believers were murdered.

The sum impact of the Boxer Rebellion was a withdrawal of European influence in Chinese affairs and a shock to the system of Western missionary efforts. The optimism present during the New York 1900 Ecumenical Mission Conference was deeply challenged with the news of mass martyrdom of the Boxer Rebellion. Indeed the effects were felt all across the Western world. This juxtapositional shock would characterize the next few decades of the 20th century.

Six years later, the Holy Spirit visited Los Angeles, California with an incredible revival that transformed the face of missions forever. The Azusa Street Revival, led by the African American preacher William J. Seymour, birthed the modern Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement in the earth. Thousands flocked to Azusa Street to receive a baptism in the Holy Spirit during the years of the revival.

One of the most marked characteristics of Azusa was that it was not contained  geographically in the same way that the two Great Awakenings were. While the Great Awakenings mostly impacted America and Western Europe, Azusa was unique in its near global impact seemingly at the outset of the revival- in particular, its impact on the birthing of missions movements in the non-Western world.

In just over a century, Pentecostalism has exploded across the earth and now comprises over 25% of all Christians on the planet. Much of this population is indigenous to the Global South. The expansion of Pentecostalism has far surpassed every other denominational exploit in the non-Western world for the last hundred years. In Chile for example, Methodism has grown to 5000 believers while Pentecostalism grew to 2,371,000. In Brazil, the Baptist denomination grew to 1,050,000 while Pentecostalism grew to over 21 million believers! Pentecostalism is currently the fastest growing denomination in numerous parts of Africa. Within just two years of Azusa the movement had spread into over 50 nations including: Britain, Botswana, Scandinavia, Egypt, Holland, Syria, Germany, South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Ceylon and India.

The Azusa Street Revival poured the life of the gospel into the Global South to such a degree that the balance of leadership in global missions has shifted away from the West in recent decades. This shift can be traced back to Azusa.

In June of 1910, the World Missionary Conference was hosted in Edinburgh, Scotland with the expressed purpose of discussing the advancement of missions in the Protestant world. The SVM watchword, “The Evangelization of the World in this Generation” was adopted by the conference. In fact, John R. Mott, who served as its chairman described it as, “the most notable gathering in the interest of the world-wide expansion of Christianity ever held, not only in missionary annals, but in all Christian annals”.

Among the agenda items at the conference was a desire to see a genuine ecumenical movement of unity between the various denominations in the task of world evangelization. It was at this conference that a truly global church was envisioned. Another agenda item was the discussion of the transition of leadership and evangelism in foreign churches from Western missionaries to the indigenous believers in those nations. This was an unprecedented pursuit and demonstrated just how successful the missions movements in the East had been in the establishment of thriving indigenous churches.

Significantly, Edinburgh is understood to be the formal close of the First Era of Protestant Missions. The era of pioneering into the coastlands had concluded. The coastlands were reached and their indigenous believers were ready to begin to assume leadership in the place of Western workers. The prominence of “Kingdom Mission” (the holistic missions efforts of the William Carey era that sought to transform and “civilize” mission fields along Western cultural lines) was over and had given way to the Second Era of missions. The Second Era was marked by a “Church Mission”, with the emphasis off of societal gospel impact and on evangelism and personal salvation.

The legacy of the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference was that it marked a crescendo in Western missionary efforts to the unreached. It is seen by many as the highest point of Western leadership in world missions and the beginning of a truly global church. Andrew Walls said it well, “The World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910, has passed into Christian legend. It was a landmark in the history of mission; the starting point of the modern theology of mission; the high point of the Western missionary movement and the point from which it declined; the launch pad of the modern ecumenical movement; the point at which Christians first begin to glimpse something of what a world church would be like.

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History of the Modern Protestant Missions Movement

Part 1

The history of Christian missions is vast and deep, stretching across nearly two millennia. From the moment Jesus commanded the disciples to, “Go into all the world…” so His Church has gone. Leaving all behind, they have gone out to follow the Lamb’s call for the rescue of the nations. Across continents and cultures, languages and generations His gospel has sounded forth through the earth rushing towards its eventual climactic conclusion- a conclusion of which we are privileged to be partakers. While all of missions history from the last two thousand years is important and is worthy of study, the following notes will examine the history of Protestant missions on a cursory level- specifically the era between 1722-1850. Most Protestant missionaries live life and serve overseas completely unaware of the magnitude of change and acceleration that has taken place in missions in the last 300 years of history. This acceleration has only continued into the present day with no signs of slowing down. For the modern missions movement to be fully appreciated, it must be contextualized within the broader history of missional Protestantism that began in 18th century Germany. It is only from understanding where we have come from, and the shoulders and foundation on which we are standing, that we can truly appreciate with inexplicable wonder the phenomenon that is the missions and prayer movement in the modern world.

 

After the birth of the Reformation in 1517 European Christianity experienced unprecedented transformation, particularly in the central and northern part of the continent. The influence of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and other reformers changed the entire theological landscape of Europe in one generation. However, the outward missional focus that was true of the historic Catholic European church was largely void in this new expression of Reformed Christianity, and for nearly 200 years there was no missional movement within in Protestant Christianity.

 

This was partly due to the fact that much of the new Protestant churches were focused on the expansion of Protestantism on a theological and ecclesiological level. During this time, the only two superpowers who were really interacting with the unreached world, Portugal and Spain, had remained staunchly Catholic and thus Protestantism could not expand through their transatlantic colonial influence. It is also important to realize that as a result of Reformation theology and ecclesiology, widespread dissolution of monastic sodalic orders in Protestant spheres wiped out the only sociological group that had historically been able to accomplish the task of world evangelization: The monks who lived lives fully devoted to prayer, worship and mission. Thus in this new expression of Christianity, the ancient driving force of old Catholic mission -communities of day and night prayer and vocational laborers- were largely absent due to backlash against monasticism. The net result was that for nearly two centuries there was very little Protestant missionary activity outside of Europe.

 

All of this began to change in the late 17th century through the early 18th century. During this time, four separate movements began to arise nearly in unison, each that contributed to the birth of Protestant missions. They were the: Puritans, Pietists, Wesleyans, and the Moravians. All of these movements paved the way for and contributed to the first wave of Protestant missions. Let’s examine them briefly:

 

The Puritans focused on conversion and the authentic simplicity of the Christian life. They also developed the first Protestant mission theology. The Puritans produced men like John Eliot (1604-1690) who traveled to New England and ministered as a missionary to the Algonquin Indians, established a number of Christian villages through converts and translated the Bible into their language.

 

The next group, the Pietists, further laid the foundation of Protestant missions. Arising out of the desolation from the Thirty Years War in central Europe, Pietism was a purist expression of Christianity that sought to return to the simple teachings of Jesus lived out in the daily lives of believers. The first Protestant missionaries to Asia came from the Pietist movement. In 1706, Frederick IV of Denmark sent Pietist missionaries to Tranquebar, India. Soon, over sixty Pietist missionaries had been sent to Asia. Some have regarded Pietism as, “The parent of missions to the heathen… also of all those saving agencies which have arisen within Christendom.”  

 

The Wesleyans, led by John & Charles Wesley, significantly helped to pave the way for the first Protestant missions movement. The impact of Wesleyanism, particularly in the American colonies during the years of the Great Awakening, cannot be overstated. We will discuss their impact more in the next section.

 

The final group represents one of the most remarkable and unique movements in history: the Moravians. The Moravian church, known officially as Unitas Fratum (Unity of the Brethren) began with a band of religious refugees from Moravia who made their way to the estate of Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf in Berthelsdorf, Germany. Zinzendorf, brought up in the traditions of Pietism, allowed the believers to settle in his land in Upper Lusatia (modern Saxony). The village that was established by the refugees was called Hernhutt.

 

Within a few years, Hernhutt grew rapidly but by 1727 there erupted theological division in the community. Through the mediation of Zinzendorf, the community resolved their conflict and then, in August 13, 1727 a massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place in Hernhutt that changed the course of history. This outpouring transformed the little community of brethren in Hernhutt into a renewal center for the world. The renewal movement produced 100 years of 24 hour continuous prayer and worship in Hernhutt. When the Moravians sent out their first missionaries, there were only about 300 people living in the community. Within 30 years, several hundred missionaries were sent out from Hernhutt across the Caribbean, Africa, East Asia, the New World, and even to the Arctic.

 

The Moravians were the first Protestant denomination to minister to slaves. There are stories of Moravians selling themselves into slavery in the Caribbean to reach slaves with the gospel. Out of these years came the “Moravian Anthem”, “May the Lamb receive the reward of His suffering!”. They were the first to send out laymen as opposed to clergy. The first Moravian mission center was established in 1732 in St. Thomas. By the time Zinzendorf died in 1760, the movement had sent 220 missionaries to every known nation on earth except Australia. Their emblem is a lamb with a flag of victory. It reads, “Our Lamb has conquered; let us follow Him”. The monumental revival that broke out in Hernhutt in 1727 transformed missions across the globe forever. The Moravian movement was ignited, and with it the the birth of Protestant missions.

“May the Lamb receive the reward of His suffering!”

 

The wave of renewal through the Moravians also had a broad ranging effect in England as well as the American colonies that would directly affect the nascent missions movement. Years of Pietism had prepared England and the colonies for revival and the Hernhutt outpouring was just the beginning of the awakening that was about to sweep the English speaking world.

 

In 1735, the First Great Awakening concretely exploded in Wales and, sweeping the British Isles and the American colonies, resulted in one of the largest revivals in history. Some of the most instrumental leaders of the First Great Awakening were directly impacted by the Moravians. Most notably John Wesley, who attributed his 1734 conversion experience directly to his interaction and fellowship with Moravian brothers from Germany. Wesley would later visit Hernhutt and stay with the Moravians for a time.

 

Wesley’s ministry in the colonies was no doubt directly influenced by the Moravians and would affect the New World dramatically in the years to come. The Great Awakening deeply impacted the colonies with the gospel and the influence of the Moravians on some of the greatest voices of the Awakening (John & Charles Wesley and George Whitfield) cannot be overstated. While it did not directly produce a wide scale missions movement, the First Great Awakening produced a missions spirit in the colonies that would last for generations. The immediate result was an increase in domestic missional activity towards the Native Americans. David Brainerd’s diary, (as published posthumously by his father-in-law Jonathan Edwards) which described his missional exploits to the Native Americans at the eventual cost of his life, spurred this missions spirit even more. Edwards, a major leader in the awakening, was even known to host prayer meetings for the advancement of world missions.

 

The collective impact of the Moravians and the First Great Awakening prepared the way for what missiologists refer to as, “The First Era”, of Protestant missions- the era of coastland oriented missions in the Far East. This era was ignited by two simultaneous events that have forever transformed Protestant missions: The Second Great Awakening and the advent of the ministry of William Carey.

 

By the end of the 1700’s, the new nation of America quickly found itself in severe spiritual decline. Universities were almost entirely secular, church attendance was dropping, and the morality of the nation was in decline. Yet, in the midst of the spiritual decay there were rumblings of awakening. Small camp meetings were beginning to be engulfed in revival and hunger for the Holy Spirit was returning to remnant groups of praying believers. Suddenly, on August 6, 1801, a torrent of revival broke out across America starting in Cane Ridge, Kentucky resulting in one of the mightiest revivals in American history. Incredible demonstrations of the Holy Spirit, conviction of sin and mass conversions were sweeping the nation- the Second Great Awakening had begun.

 

Anointed leaders like Charles Finney, Lyman Beecher, Barton Stone, Peter Cartwright and James Finley were used mightily by the Lord to bring the nation back to Himself. The spirit of missions that had been deposited through the First Great Awakening was now being fanned into flame through the Second. Many denominations that had been in severe decline were now filling up with new members as thousands entered the Kingdom and were saved through the ministry of the Holy Spirit across New England and the Midwest. Suddenly, numerous independent Christian societies began to emerge alongside accelerated local church growth. The atmosphere was electric with awakening and the nation was being prepared to send out her first missions movement to the ends of the earth.

 

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the French Revolution and subsequent Napoleonic Wars had devastated Europe. Much of the European infrastructure was decimated and the continent was in shambles. The wars had cut the roots of the European overseas commercial network and thus the Catholic missions routes had been severed. It was in this context of awakening and shaking that God launched the First Era of Protestant missions- referred to by some as the “William Carey Era”.

 

William Carey was born in Northamptonshire, England in August 17, 1761. He was raised in the Anglican church and was married at the age of 20 to Dorothy Plackett. Although Carey came from humble beginnings (leaving school at the age of 12 and working as a shoe cobbler in his youth) he demonstrated tremendous brilliance, teaching himself Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Dutch, and French. At the age of 22, Carey was baptized and committed himself to the Baptist denomination.

 

In 1785, while pastoring a local Baptist church, he read Jonathan Edwards’ publishing of David Brainerd’s diary detailing his life and eventual death on the missions field. Upon reading his story, Carey was struck with a burden to see the gospel reach the very ends of the earth. Brainerd was so influential to William that he became one of his “canonized heroes” along with the apostle Paul himself! Carey was also deeply impressed with the example of the Moravians from the generation prior.

 

Although his heart was burning for missions, Carey found himself in a religious environment that was nearly hostile to the notion of cross cultural missions. The theological landscape of the time was almost entirely hyper-Calvinist and many Protestants believed that the advancement of the gospel to the ends of the earth had been only the duty of the apostles and now it was entirely up to God to save the lost. In 1787, Carey joined a Baptist ministerial meeting to inquire about the legitimacy of spreading the gospel across the earth. Shockingly, baptist minister John Collett Ryland is famously said to have responded to Carey: Young man, sit down; when God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid and mine!. It is no coincidence that the vibrancy of hyper-Calvinism in the late 18th century created an environment that directly inhibited the advancement of world missions.

 

Carey, however would not be discouraged and five years later, in 1792, he published his magnificent missions treatise, “An Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens”. This five part book opened up a new discussion on the “means” by which Christians were obligated to advance the gospel to the ends of the earth. One of Carey’s greatest accomplishments was the initiation of real conversation around the nature of the church’s role in the advancement of world missions.

 

In October of that same year, Carey experienced breakthrough. In spite of much resistance, he and several colleagues founded the Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen (known today as BMS World Mission)- the first Protestant missionary agency in history. The significance of the establishment of this agency cannot be overstated. Since the dissolution of the monasteries in the Reformation, there had been no sodalic missional expression in Protestantism. For nearly 300 years there were only local church modalities. Carey’s simple book turned the conversation of missions towards the “means” by which the church was to participate. Carey and his colleagues understood that for the accomplishment of the task of the Great Commission there needed to be a subsequent means to do so that was beyond the local church and thus the Protestant mission sending agencies were born. This is one of the reasons that William Carey is known as the “Father of Modern Missions”. Carey’s vision for a new type of society transformed the Protestant understanding of missions forever. Gustav Warneck rightly described this year when he said, “Thus, the year 1792 may be considered the true birthday of modern missions”.

 

They began to quickly raise funds for the new society and in April of 1793, the new agency sent Carey, his family and Dr. John Thomas and his family to Calcutta in West Bengal, India, landing in October of the same year. While this was not the first Protestant missions team sent out (the Moravians and Pietists had sent out missionaries a generation prior), this team was unique in that it signaled a new era of missions specifically through the means of missions sending agencies. Thus the coastlands era was born.

 

The next hundred years marked the greatest acceleration in missions in the history of the world. This has come to be known as the, “Great Century of Missions”. Never before in history had such opportunity been presented to the church for the expansion of the Great Commission. Colonialism had opened up avenues to nations and peoples that generations in the past could never have dreamed of reaching. In the words of church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette, “Never before in history had Christianity, or any religion, been introduced to so many different peoples and cultures. Never before in a period of equal length had Christianity or any other religion penetrated for the first time as large an area as it had in the nineteenth century. Never before had so many hundreds of thousands contributed voluntarily of their means to assist the spread of Christianity or any other religion.” More was accomplished in span and scope for the gospel in the nineteenth century than in all of the previous centuries combined. If Martin Luther was the reformer of theology and ecclesiology, then William Carey was the reformer of missions.

 

Just as the gospel had spread rapidly in the early years of the church through the Roman roads, so the gospel was spreading rapidly through the colonial straits of European powers. The pioneering work of William Carey began a hundred year missions movement targeting the coastlands of Asia and Africa. Much of the interior of the continents were too dangerous and this first era of Protestant missions activity focused on bringing the gospel to the coastlands.

 

Despite the danger and risk, Carey was soon followed by hundreds of Protestant missionaries. The first North American missionary, Adoniram Judson, arrived in Calcutta in 1812 and was baptized by an associate of Carey’s. Carey urged the Baptist denomination in America to support Judson’s ministry, resulting in the establishment of the American Baptist Mission board in 1814. Departing from Calcutta, Judson and his family moved to Burma where he would live the rest of his life serving the Burmese peoples as a missionary. He died on a ship in the Bay of Bengal April 12, 1850 and was buried at sea.

 

This would be the story of almost all of the early Protestant missionaries. Nearly every Christian who landed on the coastlands of Africa and Asia died. In fact, no missionary efforts in Africa had been successful or survived whatsoever- including those of the Catholics and the Moravians. For the first sixty years of the First Era nearly every missionary sent to the coastlands of Africa died within the first two years in a near successive stream of certain death and loss for the sake of Christ’s name. Carey himself lost several friends, children and wives (he remarried several times) to foreign disease. It took him seven years to see his first Hindu convert. One need not look further than the early Protestant missionaries to see the true cost of the missions field. William Carey died in India June 9, 1834 at the age of 72. His motto, Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God” has inspired missionaries from every generation since.

 

A final look at the development of the First Era of Protestant missions is at the famous 1806 prayer gathering in Williamstown, Massachusetts that later became known as the Haystack Prayer Meeting held by five college students from Williams College.

 

The students, due to the religious hostility from secular peers, would gather off campus several times a week on the banks of the Hoosac River for prayer and discussion of the theology of missions in a place called Sloan’s Meadow. The students were Samuel Mills, James Richards, Francis LeBaron Robbins, Harvey Loomis, and Byram Green.

 

One day, in the summer of 1806- in the throes of the Second Great Awakening- after reading William Carey’s Inquiries, the five students were caught in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm while discussing the need of foreign missions to China. As the storm hit, they took shelter underneath a haystack and began to pray fervently together for God to raise up a student missions movement to the unreached of Asia. Sam Mill is supposed to have shouted to his friends in the midst of the storm, “We can do this, if we will!”. In that moment something happened in their hearts and their lives were changed- they afterwards dedicated their lives to the advancement of the Great Commission on the earth.

 

Two years later, as more students joined them, they began to call themselves, “The Brethren”, with a singular focus of giving their lives for the completion of the Great Commission. Word began to spread all over about the Haystack Prayer Movement and many college students began to be gripped for missions all across the nation. Many missions societies and agencies began to spring up on campuses across America out of this little prayer meeting.

 

Under the conviction that churches of America should sponsor the sending of laborers, the students requested for the establishment of a missions agency that would accomplish that task. In response, two years later in 1810, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was established: The first American missions sending agency. Adoniram Judson was among the first five students that they would send to India just a couple years later.

 

The legacy of the Haystack Prayer Meeting, just one of the many precious moments of the magnificent Second Great Awakening, would span well beyond the First Era of the Coastlands. Dozens of missions agencies were formed and countless lives impacted by a simple prayer meeting underneath a stack of hay in a summer storm. America can look back at her introduction to world missions through this little prayer meeting in Massachusetts in the summer of 1806. The Haystack Prayer meeting would directly influence both the formation of the Second Era, where missionaries would brave the interior of foreign continents for the sake of Christ and also the beginning of the mighty Student Volunteer Missions Movement.  

Antioch Series: When Worship, Prayer, and Missions Collide

#5- A Barnabas Company


At the core of Jesus’ invitation in the Gospels is the simple call to “follow him” and the radical cost associated with that decision along with it’s immeasurable reward. In Mark chapter 10, a wealthy young man came to Jesus. Here was a guy who was young, rich, intelligent, and influential. Think of all that this guy, with this kind of wealth and influence, could accomplish for the kingdom! He had a clean record and a good reputation. Not only that but he was ready to go! Jesus, make it easy for this guy, don’t scare him away.  If we can get him saved then he can start sharing his testimony among the other wealthy and affluent citizens, maybe even write a book, and do some fundraising for the cause.

Yet he lacked one thing. The bible says when Jesus looked at him He loved him. He knew that this guy wanted into the leadership team for what it could provide for him. It would give him the visibility, position, influence that he craved. Jesus looked into his soul and saw all of his wealth and affluence. Something else had so possessed his heart that he could never see Jesus as supremely valuable and worthy of all that he had.

You may be asking, “well what does that have to do with me?!?” If you live above the “poverty line” in America, you are in the top 2% of the wealthiest people in the world. If you live on or above the median income level in America you are in the top 1%.

We are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who want us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream.  – David Platt

 

Christ is fighting for our greatness! Not only in this age but in the age to come.  Jesus wasn’t trying to strip this man of all his pleasure. He was fighting for his greatness and for a reward that will last forever! Money and possessions are not inherently evil, but according to the Bible they can cost you your life and the love of them can cost you your destiny. This young man walked away from an opportunity of a lifetime. He could have been on Jesus’ apostolic leadership team.

There was another wealthy man who, in the grace of God, actually said yes to the invitation from Jesus. Luke introduces us to him in Acts chapter 4. Acts 4 is a snapshot of a community of people whose hearts and lives have been utterly revolutionized by believing in Jesus. They found themselves freely caring about people and freely selling land and houses, giving the money to the church for distribution to those with specific needs. Luke attributes this to the great grace that was upon them all. When grace moved, all of a sudden, people started falling out of love with “things” and started falling in love with the Lord and with His people. They had found something of more value than houses and comfort and possessions. They were becoming disciples of Jesus. Heavenly people. They were transitioning from their “ownership” mindset to “stewardship” for the glory of Jesus Christ.


Luke focuses in on two stories that are meant to complement and contradict what was going on in the community there in Jerusalem. The first account is of a man that will become one of the most influential and beloved men of the New Testament. Luke chooses to introduce Joseph. A wealthy man from Cyprus who owned land and was an affluent citizen in Jerusalem. He wasn’t a young and irresponsible man being swept up in a fad or a trend. He was being radically transformed by grace, from the inside out, into a heavenly minded vessel for the kingdom. And he was full of joy. So much so that the Apostles had nicknamed him “son of encouragement” or Barnabas.

He shines as one of the most mature, reliable, loveable leaders of the early church. Right here in Acts 4:36–37, Luke shows us how Barnabas’ trusted ministry began. It started with a demonstrated freedom from the love of things and a heart of love for the presence of God and the people of God. He sold a field that belonged to him and gave all the proceeds to the apostles to use for the movement. In this story he stands as the example of what the grace of God and the Spirit of Revival does in the human heart. It creates a bond of love for people and cuts a bond of love for money and possessions. These three things were distinguishing marks on Barnabas’ life.

Love for people, radical generosity, and great joy.

He was a Levite, well acquainted with Levitical law. Barnabas in this one act gives us a glimpse into “New Covenant” giving. “Old Covenant” required 10% tithe. The New Testament writers never give a number as a law for giving because giving was meant to flow out of a heart of joy and love, struck by the worth of the Lamb. Instead they write about Barnabas and others…

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints-– – 2 Corinthians 8:1-4

Do you see that? The grace of God was producing a wealth of generosity even in their severe affliction and extreme poverty. Old testament giving was 10%, New Testament giving is Barnabas. Barnabas found a greater joy then having influence and a greater possession than having wealth. He found a treasure hidden in a field and in his joy he went and sold all that he had. 

He sold his little field and he gained an apostolic assignment. He laid down his field at the apostle’s feet and picked up a mantle for a greater field called the nations of the earth.

Radical generosity changes history and unlocks destiny.


Immediately after, Luke then juxtaposes another story with Barnabas’. A man named Ananias who also sold a field.


What was wrong with Ananias and Sapphira? They loved their money and they loved position. They made the sale, they looked at all that cash, and they couldn’t bear the thought of giving it all away without getting something in return. So they kept some back (v. 2). They, like the rich young ruler who, thought if they followed some external religious law, could manipulate their way into the promises.  They wanted to look more generous than they really were. They wanted the apostles to think that they were like Barnabas perhaps. They not only loved money, they loved the praise of men. They wanted approval. So they lied to cover their covetousness, and to give the impression of radical generosity. If you love possessions and you love the praise of men, your love for truth will dissolve into deception and fraud. That’s the meaning of hypocrisy. Half hearted obedience is no obedience at all. They were struck dead at the altar so that all the church would know this one thing. The love of money and the love of the praise of men will lead to a wasted life.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:7-9

The truth is: You are reaping what you sowed five to ten years ago and what you do today is setting the stage for what you will walk in five and ten years from now.

Barnabas shows up next in Acts 9 about 6 years later. At this point, Saul has had his conversion experience and spent a few years in the wilderness before coming up to Jerusalem to try and join the apostolic leadership team. Everyone was afraid of this young “convert” and no one wanted to associate with him. But one man, full of love, grace and joy took Paul by the hand and marched him right up into Peter and James’ office and said, “You gotta hear this young mans story.” Barnabas believed in Paul and his calling when no one else would. He saw this diamond in the rough and was determined to put his arms around him and make sure was successful. He was a true spiritual Father.

When the Apostles heard the report of what was happening in Antioch, they knew there was only one man right for the job of shepherding this young revival community. They sent Barnabas. When he saw what was happening in Antioch, he knew that it was the perfect place for the young Paul to cut his teeth in ministry and leadership. Only one problem, he hadn’t seen Paul in a few years and heard that he had returned home to pursue a different path for his life. Barnabas believed in Paul’s calling even when Paul didn’t have the courage to believe in it himself.

I often say that Acts 11:25 is one verse that changed all of history,

So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch…” – Acts 11:25


Barnabas goes and searches for this young man and finds him living at his parents house, completely resigning from his calling because of hope differed, disappointment, and wounds from leaders.

Imagine the conversation in the living room of Paul’s parents house. Whatever was said changed history.  

Barnabas returns to Antioch as an Apostolic leader to care for this young revival community and nuture it into maturity while mentoring Paul in Antioch. Pretty soon the community starts to reflect this DNA of radical generosity and love for people under the leadership of Barnabas. After he returns from Tarsus with Paul, it says they spent a whole year teaching a great many people (Acts 11:26). Two verses later, an offering is being taken up to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. This was no small love gift. Everyone in the church of Antioch pitched in. In fact it says that everyone according to their ability or NASB says it this way, they determined to send a contribution according to each of their means. Sound familiar? Love for people and radical generosity with joy!

In just a year or two he and his young companion would be launched out as the first Apostolic mission’s movement that will raise up revival communities all across Asia minor and be one of the few catalytic leaders in the rapid expansion of the church in the first century.

 

All because he sold a field.


Antioch Sending Centers are always marked by the lives of fathers and mothers who, like Barnabas, long ago “sold their field” to be a part of what God was doing on the earth. These ones are so marked with love, generosity and joy that they provide a safe place for young laborers to be formed and fashioned without the fear of over-correction, manipulation, or punishment. Their lives of faith and obedience over decades give permission for a new generation to go hard after God no matter what the cost. I believe that there are hundreds and thousands of Barnabas’ out there that God is sending to serve these emerging prayer, revival and missions centers across the earth so that hand in hand, not passing the baton, the generations can experience the greatest outpouring and missions thrust the earth has ever seen.

 

R.A. Martinez

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Missions From A Different Perspective

The following blog was written by a Middle Eastern international student:

 

There are 80 million people and 1,000 or less missionaries in my country. That’s 1 missionary per 80,000 people here, most of which have never heard the gospel. The work here is too difficult to do alone.There are only 5,000-10,000 believers. But it’s not just about the injustice of the matter, it is simply that it is just too much. The numbers and weight of the task is overwhelming. It’s hard, I cannot do this on my own. It is so important that people come and help because I cannot do this alone. The believers here cannot do it on their own. We need help, we need people to come and help us.

Before MAPS I knew it was important to share the Gospel, but now I realize the importance of it. I am thirsty to share the Gospel, I long for it to go forth. I know that this is my responsibility. I feel that God gave me this burden and I feel His heart for this nation and these people. But during MAPS I learned not only to feel His heart for my own people, but for all the nations. I cannot just pray for my own people. I am heavenly minded now, I must pray for all people. I got a heavenly mindset that I can’t just pray for my own country I have to pray for other people too because I am not in this world anymore, I am heavenly minded. This happened through MAPS that I now have a heart for nations beyond my own.

Being with MAPS taught me that even if I cannot just go out and share the Gospel with a thousand people every day, I can intercede for them. I have learned the place of intercession. I used to feel that I constantly need to do more and share with more people. But no longer do I just have to work more and always try to do more, but I have learned that I need to pray and cry out to God. I can do so much more through my intercession. I can’t just go on sharing the gospel alone I need His help. Yes, I need to share the gospel, I need to love people. But I also need to pray and cry out to the Lord every day and seek more of Him.

My people do not get love from their religion. What allah is giving them is all about judgement. Their god is distant from them. They also often do not get love from their parents. Not all people here, there are exceptions, but a lot of them are seeking for love from something. When they are seeking their god know that they are sinful and cannot find success in their religion and so they just give up. Their sins outweigh their good works and they feel that they are doomed to hell. But when we share the gospel with them we give them love that they have never experienced before. We give them pure love that is all about grace. Even though they do not deserve love, we love them because God is love. This is different from the world. This makes them begin to think and question, “Who is God? Who is this Jesus?” This is what my team does, they love the people here. Through this love the Gospel goes forth, and I am so thankful for them. I am so thankful for what God is doing in this nation. He is faithful, I know great things are about to happen.

It is a privilege to come here as a team. I am not alone. It is good that people said yes and came here to my country. When my team came to my country with me I felt like Moses when Aaron and Hur came to hold up his arms. When he was too tired and weary to hold his arms up any longer they came alongside him to hold up his arms that the battle might be won by the Israelites. When I see missionaries come to my country this is how I feel. You see, it is not about you or me, but it is about community. It is about being family. We get to do this together. The task of evangelizing this nation is big and heavy, but my team is here helping me. I do not have to do this alone anymore. I have a family around me who is fighting alongside me for the destiny of my people.

 

MAPS Global Student

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Taking Your Secret Place Public

What would it look like if you prayed and interceded for the lost or the unreached for 30 minutes every day in the secret place and then brought that into a house of prayer? How would God move if you spend your free time intentionally engaging and coming into agreement with God’s heart? In Hebrews 7:25 it says this, ‘Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.’

Jesus is always interceding for us. Intercession goes beyond just praying. It’s taking those prayers on yourself. He’s the only one that can since He died on the cross. He took all of that on already. Because Jesus lives in us and us in him, we can come into partnership with what he’s already doing constantly. We may not feel a heart for what we’re praying for, but He will give your heart what burdens His if you continue to press and and pray for it. Let’s continue to partner with it even if we can’t feel it.

If you only spend the time during an intersession set and no other time outside of it. That’s only 30-60 minutes a week praying into salvation for the lost or bringing the gospel to the unreached. That’s only two topics and there are so many other topics we can pour our hearts into that need to be prayed into as well. What if you take extra time during your quiet time in your secret place to pray into this things as well? In Matthew 6:6 is says, ‘But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’

There is something unique about taking the time and going to where no one can see you, where it’s just God and you, and pouring your heart out for the nations or the lost or how many people are affected by pornography, or abortion. Whatever the topic is there is something that is powerful and God loves when you pray and intercede in your secret place. If we practice and steward praying and interceding in the secret, our time in a house of prayer should look very different if haven’t been doing it in secret.

What comes out of our hear in our alone time probably looks different then when we do it in front of people. What if it didn’t though? What if you were just as raw with God in a house of prayer as you were in the secret place? I think things would visibly shift in the atmosphere around us if we practice this. Our boldness and honest needs to be the same in our prayers no matter where we are. The amount of people around us should not change anything. The fact we have a mic in our hand should not change anything. That difference needs to be smooths out and erased. We can’t let the genuineness and boldness of our prayers be different between the two.

It’s important to be intentional with interceding and praying for what burdens your heart. The more we do this the more we partner with Jesus, which will affect us many areas of our walk in life. This topic is something God is revealing to me I feel. Personally, I know I’m no where close to doing this but I want to steward this more and more. When we steward this intentionally, I believe it will change not just nations, but everything. And if everyone in the room is doing this daily, how could God resist moving?

 

Ryan Hoskins, MAPS Global Student

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The Seeds We Plant

Sometimes God gives us chances to build friendships with locals and share the full gospel; however, sometimes God only gives us brief moments to plant seeds. I want to be faithful with the time God has given me in this nation. I’m learning to be obedient and look to Him for how to respond when it comes to evangelism. Sometimes we are asked to be faithful to do the work of building and maintaining a friendship, and sometimes I feel a stirring from the Holy Spirit to share as much as I can because all I have is this moment. This was one of those occasions where I felt it was my one shot to love this person as much as I possibly could.

A couple weeks ago my team and I went out to play music and do evangelism. We worshipped freely in the open air. We danced and were filled with the joy of the Lord. The dance itself felt like a prophetic declaration that the Joy of the Lord was greater than the oppression, particularly on women, in this country. It didn’t take long for a small crowd to gather around – sometimes joining in the dancing with us. Many people said they were drawn to the joy they saw in us.

During that time I befriended this sweet woman. She wore a hijab and clung to her purse, clearly drawn to us but not totally trusting or sure why we were there. I used all the words I knew in her language to connect with her. It was amazing how much I was able to connect with her and love her even with a huge language barrier. My team member, who spoke the language, prayed for her and shared the gospel but was quickly grabbed to translate for someone else. All that my teammate communicated to me about my new friend was that her husband wanted to divorce and she didn’t want him to leave her.

I felt strongly that this woman just needed to feel loved and seen. She stayed by me the whole time watching the dancing. She clearly wanted to join in but was hesitant. I talked with her all I could. I hugged and grabbed her arm or hand every chance I could. (The culture here is VERY physically affectionate). Eventually, I got her to dance with me! She was all smiles, holding my hand and dancing in circles to “I Am a Child of God.” In that moment she got a taste of the true joy and freedom that we have in Christ! I can only imagine what that meant to her heart coming from a culture where the women are so oppressed. I’m sure we made quite a spectacle laughing and dancing together while she tried to keep her hair covered.

I was heartbroken when we had to leave. She didn’t have a phone or a way to see me again. I kept calling her the words I knew for “my friend” and “my love/my soul” in her language (which is something you call your friends.) When she left we hugged and used all the affectionate goodbyes. As I saw her walking away I yelled one last “goodbye, friend” and she smiled so big!

I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again but I know that planted a seed in her heart and I am praying for her everyday. I am praying that Jesus will encounter her. I am praying that Jesus will draw her away with His love and heal her heart. I’m praying that His will be done in her marriage. I’m praying that God uses whatever happens to lead her to salvation and true joy and freedom in Christ.

 

Katie Prock, MAPS Global Student

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Antioch Series: When Worship Prayer And Missions Collide // A Heavenly Family


#4- A Heavenly Family


By Acts chapter 6, the Apostles are so overwhelmed with the work that comes with revival that they call a meeting to figure out how to raise up and train “second tier” leaders to help carry the load of administration that comes with thousands of people under your pastoral care. They were in desperate need to return to the things they did at first anddevote themselves to the word of God and prayer.”  It is now about a decade since the day of Pentecost and they still haven’t left Jerusalem and there are no indicators that they were even considering the possibility of sending out laborers for the task that was given to them by the resurrected Lord Himself.


Something else was beginning to rear its ugly head in Acts 6 that was subtly going unnoticed in the Jerusalem movement. There was a deep undercurrent that was causing an ambivalence, yea even an aversion to the mandate to disciple all nations.

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. – Acts 6:1


Yes, the busyness of revival was real, but something even more real was lurking in the shadows. We see the first glimpse of it in Acts 6 but it doesn’t come to the forefront until about another decade later in Acts 15. It finally comes to a head in ANTIOCH with a rebuke of an Apostle by another Apostle in front of the whole church.

Antioch becomes the flash point where God deals with the sin of racism in the global church in the first century. Antioch is the first place we see a multi-ethnic leadership over a multi-ethnic community. God was doing something unique in this community that was preparing them to be the sending center to the ends of the earth. God was tearing down strongholds that were preventing the church from fulfilling her destiny.

RACISM IS ANTI-GOSPEL AND THE ENEMY OF MISSIONS

 

As Gentiles begin to come into the kingdom and Antioch rises to prominence in the first century Christian movement, some teachers from Jerusalem, feel it’s their duty to visit these “barbarians” and bring some theological correction to their movement that was clearly “out of order”. Paul and Barnabas, who have been a part of this new multi-ethnic leadership team take issue with these racist ideas parading around as inspired words.

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” – Acts 15:1

Paul and Barnabas, who then were based in Antioch, challenge these ethnocentric, anti-gospel teachings and the debate makes its way to the very top. The Jerusalem council (Acts 15) was the first church council recorded and its purpose was to tear down cultural ideas that were masking themselves as theological truths and obstructing the advancement of the gospel to the ends of the earth.

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” – Acts 15:6-11

As the council reached its’ conclusion, those present penned a letter recognizing the legitimacy of these Gentile believers and exhorting them continue in the faith. The sent this letter to Antioch with a team of prophets accompanying Paul and Barnabas. This marks a significant transition in the Book of Acts where the church and leadership in Jerusalem no longer remain the central component to the Holy Spirit record of the God’s activity in the first century. From this point on Antioch and its multi-ethnic leadership team become the “central hub” of New Testament Christianity.

Even though Peter had the correct theological stance of “inclusion of the Gentiles through the gospel” at the Jerusalem council, we soon find out that having the right theological stance can be much different than acknowledging your own ethnocentricity and allowing God, by the power of the Spirit, to search you and fully deliver you from the culture that nurtured your fallen mindset.

When Peter finally makes it down to Antioch to see what is transpiring in this new apostolic center, he comes face to face with his own racism.

For before certain men came from James, he [Peter] was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” – Galatians 2:12-14

Paul’s rebuke to Peter’s conduct in Antioch is simple yet profound. I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

In other words…

 

The cross is the end of racism.

 

Paul says that his confrontation with Peter was over the truth of the gospel itself. Christ not only died for us, but died with us and as us. Now if you became one with Jesus on the cross and joined with Him in the grave, then it is impossible for you not to be raised with Him with a new nature. You died with Christ so that He could raise you with Him and justify you as righteous, holy, and blameless. God raised Jesus, vindicating His life of obedience, and in the same moment destroyed the power of death and the curse of the fall over you, having been raised with him. When he came out of the grave, you were reborn and now have a new nature inherited from the Second Adam.

You now are altogether different than who you once were. You no longer are identified with the nature you inherited from the first Adam. The finished work of the cross makes you a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.Colossians 3:10-11 

This new nature you have inherited is Christ’s nature within you. You in Him and Him in you. This nature is shared by all who believe in Him.

Something finally clicked with Peter in Antioch. Maybe it took a public rebuke for his racist attitudes and actions to finally be purged. Later he writes, near the end of his life to the church dispersed all over Asia minor, You are a chosen race [genos], a holy nation [ethnos]…once you were not a people [laos], but now you are God’s people [laos]…”. 1 Peter 2:9-10

These words from Peter take aim at any remnant of ethnocentrism that may have been lingering in the dispersed believers throughout the Roman empire. The same Peter that pulled back from fellowship with brothers from different races is now declaring that through the body and blood of Jesus, God has created a whole new genos, ethnos, and laos. This new family, race, and nation is made up of believers from every ethnic group on the planet. The Blood of Jesus has freed us from every earthly, Adamic, unspiritual, means of separation. We no longer are defined by our Socio-Economic status, Politics, or cultural preferences. Jesus is the end of Ageism, Sexism, Nationalism and most of all Jesus is the end of racism. The church is a global family of affection and the ruling aristocracy in the earth. You have more in common with the brethren in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia, and Indonesia than you do with your closest unbelieving friend that has the same political, cultural, and social views as you. You share the same spirit, blood, and nature.

Jesus displays this on his leadership first leadership team. The Lord handpicked men from polar opposite sides of the spectrum and turned them into something altogether new. He takes them through such a magnificent transformative journey that their former political allegiances, passions, paradigms, all melt under the power of the leadership and love of Christ and they in turn begin love each other in the same manner.

Racism denies the power of the cross and clings to the nature that we inherited from Adam. Racism and the Gospel are mutually exclusive. One cannot “deny himself, pick up his cross and follow Jesus” and at the same time attach themselves to ethnocentristic mindsets and racist attitudes. As Russell Moore so eloquently states, “You can’t serve Jesus Christ and Jim Crow at the same time.

We learn to love beyond ourselves when we embrace those that are ethnically and cultural different than us. The comfort of the homogenous bubble of Jerusalem Christianity was robbing the apostolic church from entering into the John 17 “glory” of being united in Jesus Christ across the diving wall of hostility that separated races. When we are surrounded by people who look like us, think like us, talk like us, and dress like us, our love is fenced in by our own comfort and self-importance. We are not loving like the cross teaches us to love, we are loving our self-reflection.

Racism makes us irrelevant because it refuses self-sacrificial love. Racism strips us of our authority as peacemakers standing between two parties at odds because it attaches itself to one side of the argument.  

Racism makes us deaf because we cannot hear the wounded groan of our brothers and sisters while our ears are clogged with cultural narratives. Therefore, we cannot “weep with those who weep.” (Rom 12:15)

Racism makes us blind because we cannot see glaring injustices through the fog of political rhetoric. Like the lawyer in Luke 10, desiring to justify ourselves, we smugly ask Jesus, “WELL WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?!?!”

Racism is the enemy of missions because true missions is born out of a vision of the worth of Jesus that produces a self-sacrificing love for peoples and nations. These nations we would have nothing in common with on our own. Now the commonality we have with the unreached of the earth is the compassion of the Lamb that compels us towards and not away from our “enemies”. 

Here in Antioch they began to call themselves not by their ethnic identities, not by their national allegiances but simply by one word that described what they now were together, “Christians”. (Acts 11:26) Little Christs… crucified with Him, buried with Him, and raised with Him in the newness of life where there is no Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

What is the indicating marker in your life that tells everyone you are have been so radically transformed by the gospel and ripped out of your former passions, former mindsets, former allegiances? Is it not that we love what we formerly hated? And what does that love look like except to lay our lives down to serve those that could never repay us? Is it not that we care for our brother in his need?

 

Then we can truly call ourselves, “Christians”.

 

Sunday morning remains one of the most segregated hours in American life, with more than 8 in 10 congregations made up of one predominant racial group. Jesus is calling the church to stare its racism in the face and repent. The current conversation about racial tension in America is an opportunity to do just that. Somewhere along the way we lost the biblical command to be “slow to speak, quick to listen, slow to angerand in its place we have inserted “categorize the opponent, attack with counterpoints, win the argument”. Make no mistake, God is using the discussions around police brutality, institutional racism, criminal justice reform, income disparity, educational inequality, southern strategy politics, privilege, ect… to refine us in love and humility. What’s at stake here is more than losing an argument, it might be losing our soul. The church in America divided over social, political, and economic issues says to the world that the gospel is weak, the kingdom is fractured, and Christ is an inadequate leader.

What we don’t realize is, by ignoring, dismissing or worse, actively emboldening one side of the conversation, we could actually be forfeiting our destiny as the church in this nation to become an Antioch at the end of the age. I believe that the church in America is called to be a sending nation that participates with the Lord of the Harvest in praying, training and sending laborers to the ends of the earth. We are throwing away our destiny with every dismissive, apathetic or argumentative attitude when it comes to race in America. The current racial climate is a training ground to teach us to love like never before and to cleanse us of our ethnocentrism so that we can actually look up and see the white fields ready for harvest in the nations of the earth.

 

R.A. Martinez

 

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Triumph Through Fasting

I felt the Lord stirring me to fast… I said “God Again?” “Yes again” He said.

As a ‘worker’ trainee on a short three month trip, I have been preparing for this season abroad. I have prayed, studied, meditated, and even fasted. In fact I had fasted right before coming on this trip for an extended time beyond the normal 3-7 day period. In many ways I felt I had prepared enough, done enough to make this trip a success. In my heart I resisted having to do more particularly when it takes away something that is a comfort, like food. And yet I feel my soul weakening here, my spirit growing dull, and the enemy’s voice growing louder. I must have thought before coming here that the enemies attacks would be less than they are or that I am stronger than I actually am in resisting temptation. So here I go preparing for the Lord’s grace to fast, but also preparing for whatever the Lord will do in the process.

Outside of my comfort zone of America, the enemy feels stronger than normal. Because we are humans, no matter how hard we prepare for these kinds of trips there is always something unknown that comes up in our hearts. For example, if we ask the Lord to give us love, patience, and humility, of course, He does. Yet, other areas that are hidden come up, such as anger, fear, or self preservation. The enemy of our souls has been messing with humans so long that he has a 1, 2, 3 step program. Step 1. He will try attacking your surface level weakness areas. Step 2. If he can’t get you there he will go to the deeper, hidden, weak areas and attack. Step 3. He will repeat steps 1 and 2 again and again and again, every time he feels he has you are going week in those areas. Your welcome!

My hope is in the fact that the Lord knows this all to well. Our weakness, temptations, and struggles do not cause Him to change His mind about our calling. In fact He will use the devil, and our weakness; unphased He approaches us and says, “I’m going to use this and make you triumphant.” “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. When we call on Jesus He comes to deliver us. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10.

I am reminded that Jesus Himself after being commissioned to ministry went into the wilderness for 40 days and was tempted by the enemy. Not only was He tempted in the wilderness, in Matthew 4:1 it says the Spirit lead Him to be tempted. John Piper said, “The Spirit of God willed that the Son of God be tested on His way into ministry and He willed that Jesus triumph in this testing through fasting.” Somehow fasting played a big part of the triumph that Jesus had in the wilderness. Perhaps I have seen fasting in the wrong way. Many times I have seen fasting as giving up pleasure of food to get something I want; instead of a way of triumphing through testing.

The Spirit lead Jesus to where He knew the devil would try to tempt Him. Jesus didn’t fast in order to get something out of the Lord, but He humble Himself before His Father. By submitting Himself through giving up the pleasure of food, He was able to triumph over the devil and boldly declaring His full submission to the Father. Jesus showed that He wanted the Father’s will above His own temporary desire. He gave up the temporary in order to serve the purposes of the eternal. Nothing changed in the heart of Jesus when the devil tempted Him. It wasn’t the devil that gave Jesus His resolve to submit to His Father. His fasting was the proof of this submission and when the devil tempted Him He was able to verbally declare the resolve in His own heart. For those of us who do not claim to be fully God, fasting can shows us how we can submit to our Heavenly Father. If we can lay down our flesh in order to submit to the Lord by fasting it also can show us the triumph we can have over our enemy. When the devil tries to show us something desirable we have a deeper understanding that connects us to the truth that the temporary is lesser than the eternal. It’s a journey we Christians are on in understanding how to submit to the Lord. “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.” Deuteronomy 8:2.

And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3

I have spend the last few weeks meditating on the last part of this verse. “Man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” How profound and unfathomable is this statement. I can taste, see, touch, smell and know that God and his goodness is better than bread. Knowing Him satisfies to the very center of my being. I can forever find new manna which feeds me spiritually.

I love the Lord for showing me what it looks like to triumph through fasting. If I can fast it shows that I am capable of submitting to the Lord and resisting the enemy, and therefore I am capable of doing the will of the Father. When I am satisfied with God all other temptations grow distant and lack their appeal.

Caridad Haller, MAPS Student