Missionary Minds: Meyers in South Africa

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 6.54.58 PMSeth Meyers lives with his wife and five children in Louis Trichardt, South Africa where he is church planting among the Tsonga people.

  1. Finish the sentence: Do not become a missionary if ____. You do not enjoy and see that you have some ability with language.
  2. What are the most common errors that missionaries make?
    1. They choose to work among cultures that have more light than the least-reached places.
    2. They do not devote themselves to language mastery.
    3. They do not pray as if it is their lifeline in a war.
    4. They may be gullible about the nature and power of culture as a tool in Satan’s hand to bind men with a greater fastness in darkness.
    5. They are hasty to accept professions of faith without evidence of repentance.
    6. They devote their time to other labors rather than churchplanting.
    7. They raise more support than the average national pastor assuming that they must continue an American standard of living.
    8. They don’t actively look for a way to get around the 40-churches model of deputation that requires years to raise support and a lengthy furlough.
    9. They don’t commonly cultivate a love for theology and books.
    10. They are content with a superficial knowledge of Christ and His Spirit.
  3. What missionaries (past or present) have been most influential on you? William Carey for his tireless work ethic and broad scope (evangelism, teaching, translation, and botany). John Paton for his absolute devotion to his Savior and the lost. Don Richardson (author of Peace Child), for giving me zeal while in college to reach the least-reached. Paul Schlehlein for his fellowship in all the details of life, ministry, and theology
  1. What Scripture passage(s) is most comforting to you amidst the difficulties in missionary life? Second Timothy 2:10, “I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” Revelation 5:9, “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.’”
  2. How has missions changed the most over the past 50 years? Globalization has produced more of a universal culture. Among other fruits, this brought American revivalism including crusades, instant conversions, speakers, synthesized music, and celebrities even to the rural villages.
  3. What kind of dangers do missionaries face that other ministers do not? (1) Laziness and inefficiency since they have no one to watch them. (2) Cynicism since missionaries often come from a culture that has had deeper exposure to the gospel. (3) Superficial answers to problems like poverty. (4) Increased crime or persecution.
  4. The most comical mistake I ever made is when ______. I told a group of baptismal candidates from three different villages in Tsonga that they will hold their noses, I will place them in the water, they will “get wet,” and they will come out. But by adding one extra syllable to the verb for to be wet, I told them to relieve themselves.
  5. What is the best book you’ve read on missions? William Carey by S. Pearce Carey.
  6. Who is on your Mt. Rushmore of missionaries? The Swiss missionaries who translated the Bible into Tsonga. The Welsh missionaries who translated the Bible and evangelized in Madagascar in the early 1800’s.
  7. What is the best advice you have ever received? “Where’d you learn to preach like that?” A question not meant as a compliment by a man who heard me preach in 2002. It produced a crisis that led me to expositional preaching.

Missionary Minds: Wuori in Ecuador

P1030673Steve Wuori, his wife Veronica and their three children minister in Ecuador. Saved at 27, he entered seminary at 28, and at 31—one month after graduation—arrived on the mission field. His tasks include church planting, education, jail ministry, and evangelism in the Amazon jungle. He has worked with Latinos but mostly with Kichwa and Shuar Indians.

  1. Who or what played the greatest role in your call to missions? When I first arrived at seminary I was averse to becoming a pastor. Then God gave me a desire to preach. Then He gave me a desire for missions. I thought that the US had received the Gospel and was full of churches. Other places have not received the Gospel and are without churches. As Paul wrote in Romans 15:20, “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation.” I had studied Spanish for 7 years in high school and college and saw this as God preparing me for a work even while I was an unbeliever. Shadow of the Almighty had the most direct impact regarding where my place of service would be.
  2. What are the most common errors that missionaries make? Any missionary who is not planting reproducing churches through discipleship, training pastors, and allowing the congregants to do their own work including establishing their own buildings is making a mistake. Where I minister, missionaries will go to a place, evangelize for a few days, and then leave someone with almost no biblical knowledge as the “leader” of the “church.” They return sporadically to visit one of their numerous church plants. What would our heroes of yesteryear say about this?
  3. What Scripture passage(s) is most comforting to you amidst the difficulties in missionary life? With what may be called my “lack of success”, I look to the Old Testament saints who were also called to preach where the people would not heed their call to repentance: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Noah, Lot.
  4. What adventurous tale in your current context can you tell us? Our arrival in the jungle was met with a town meeting. We were summoned and threatened with stoning and the burning of our home if we did not immediately leave. I pulled out the machete for the first time and cut a path through the thick jungle brush for my wife to flee if they came in the night. We prayed and trusted in God. I believed it was His calling for me to remain in that place. The Indians never attacked.
  5. What kind of dangers do missionaries face that other ministers do not? Death threats, disease, continual sickness due to poor drinking water and unsanitary living conditions, animal attacks, witchcraft.
  6. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first arrived? (1) Not to build a church with my own money or mission funds. (2) The Indians hatred of the white man. (3) That I would not be immune to the lack of success in planting churches in the jungle.
  7. What is the most misunderstood thing about you and/or your ministry? I’d like to change the word from “misunderstood” to “unknown” or “incomprehensible.” The deep-seated Indian hatred of the white man consumes so many of them.
  8. What missionaries (past or present) have been most influential on you? Jim Elliot, John Paton, Hudson Taylor, Paul Schlehlein
  9. What is the best advice you have ever received? If there is anything else you can do, do it, because when you are suffering only your call will get you through.
  10. The biggest blind spot Western churches have in relation to missions is _______. In many places where missionaries are located, there is no need for them. Most cities throughout the world are very similar to US cities in that they are full of churches. Missionaries should go to the places where the Gospel is not being preached, or establish pastoral training centers in the already evangelized areas. Of course in some parts of the world there is a great need for orphanages and other such missionary work.

Missionary Minds: McPhail in Cambodia

Missionary Minds is a series of ten-question exchanges with missionaries around the world.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 4.34.16 PMForrest McPhail and his family have been involved in church planting and evangelism in Cambodia for most of 15 years. He has worked with missionaries from several different missions in several locations, including the capital city of Phnom Penh, the rural provincial capitals of Pursat and Samraong, and most recently, the city of Siem Reap. Presently, he is seeking ways to assist other missionaries, particularly those laboring in Cambodia.

  1. Finish the sentence: Do not become a missionary if ____. You think it is the height of spirituality; you think it the greatest way for Christians to prove their devotion to Christ; you are not primarily concerned with evangelism and being a cross-cultural disciple maker; you are not willing to make long-term sacrifices
  2. What is the most misunderstood thing about you and/or your ministry? People fail to understand the spiritual pressures and oppression faced on the mission field. They only think of missions in practical categories. People tend to think that missionaries do not need spiritual accountability, and rarely offer any. I have literally asked maybe five pastors over the years to provide some kind of regular spiritual accountability for me, and none have done so.
  3. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first arrived? Almost everything I know now I did not know when I first arrived! That is one reason why I wrote my book!
  4. Who or what played the greatest role in your call to missions? Pastors that took my burden for Gospel ministry seriously when I was in junior high and high school made a huge impact on me. When it came to missions, God used missionaries serving in Thailand (Jim Hayes) and Cambodia (J.D. Crowley) to direct us to where to serve in cross-cultural missions.
  5. What role does the foreign language play in your ministry? Absolute necessity for witness and discipleship. Cambodians are increasingly studying English, but very few speak English well enough to understand the Gospel and its truths without the use of their own language, Khmer. English teaching, or allowing Cambodians to practice their English on you, can be an effective means of building relationships in the community—just don’t do it in your church meeting place!
  6. How has missions changed the most over the past 50 years? The movement of peoples, diasporas, and the ease of travel and access to many places has added whole new dimensions. There is a need to cooperate more and realize that we are sowing and watering in conjunction with others like never before. Lone missionaries tackling large areas are no longer the need many places today.
  7. What kind of dangers do missionaries face that other ministers do not? Greater pressure to perform; the burden of beginning ministry in darker places of the world; genuine spiritual fellowship and accountability options are limited; it is easier to get caught in narrow-mindedness if missionaries are not actively fellowshipping with others; sin problems and ministry deficiencies and problems can go undetected much more easily; temptation to be in a state of continual doubt over what you are to do because you are solely in charge of your daily life and ministry.
  8. What are the most common errors that missionaries make? Trusting in the power of money over the power of the Gospel; trusting the methods and giftedness over the power of the Holy Spirit; lacking faith in what the Gospel can do, and what it is doing, through them; counting success according to visible and measureable attainments; frustration at God when He does not work according to our ambitions or timetable; failing to take prayer supporters seriously.
  9. What is the best book you’ve read on missions? Let the Nations Be Glad (Piper); The Planting and Development of Missionary Churches (Nevius); Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours (Plummer and Terry); Building on Firm Foundations (McIlwain); Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? (Allen); The Indigenous Church (Hodges); We are Not the Hero (Johnson)
  10. If we visited you, what is the place we would have to see? Angkor Wat and its many temples are among the World Heritage sites and are one of the few remaining wonders of the ancient world still standing. In the last twenty years, Angkor Wat and its temples, located in Siem Reap, have become one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world. They are monuments to the world system apart from God in every way, and will get you stirred up to preach the Gospel!

Carey’s Creed: The Eleven Laws of Missions

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 1.45.52 PMMany know the famous Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. But how about those of William Carey?

On October 7, 1805, nine missionaries of the Baptist Missionary Society, including the famous Serampore Trio of William Carey, William Ward, and Joshua Marshman, signed a covenant in Serampore, India. This declaration of missionary strategy would serve as a cornerstone document for future generations.

The missionaries lived together and essentially gave up personal property. In the covenant they wrote: “No private family ever enjoyed a greater portion of happiness, even in the most prosperous gale of worldly prosperity, than we have done since we resolved to have all things in common.” Continue reading

Did St. Paul the Missionary Contextualize?

In Galatians, the Judaizers were willing to accept only part of the message and in the end got full condemnation. They believed in justification by faith, only not by faith alone. In Islam, Muslims accept Jesus as Messiah, only not as the Messiah who is Creator of the universe and Savior of the world.

Insiders and C5 proponents believe that the way to bridge the gap is by blending in to the community and in doing so softening the vast differences between Christianity and Islam. Paul’s perspective from Galatians can help us here.

First, Paul’s gospel was not palatable to the unconverted. His goal was not to tickle the ears but teach the evangel. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).

Apparently some were accusing Paul of being a flatterer, acting like a flag that flies in the direction of public opinion. Anathematizing to hell anyone who twists the gospel (Gal. 1:8-9) quickly put an end to this farce. Paul did not remove the rough edges or offense from the gospel. “But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed” (Gal. 5:11).

Second, the only times Paul “contextualized” with his hearers is when he made life more difficult for himself, not easier. Hence, the “all things to all men” passages in 1 Corinthians 9. Any definition of contextualization that made it easier to be a follower or proclaimer of Jesus was foreign to Paul. John MacArthur wrote:

[Paul] was not advocating a marketing plan. He was not making a plea for ‘contextualization.’ He was not suggesting that the message be made more acceptable….He was calling for self-denial and sacrifice for the sake of proclaiming the unadulterated truth to those who do not know Christ.

In conclusion, our recent analysis of the Insider and C5 Movements demonstrates they misappropriate contextualization to Muslims by softening the theological differences between Islam and Christianity and discouraging suffering for Christ.

All Nations Sing for Joy

This missions anthem may be sung to the tune of “Now Thank We All our God”

  1. All nations sing for joy, each tribe and tongue and kingdom.

Like clouds infused with rain, pour all thy praise upon Him.

The gospel now unfurled, glad servants He shall send.

To every land and realm, And then shall come the end.

  1. ­ All churches fast and pray, the Spirit bids thee sending

An army full of hope, a multitude unending.

Adorn the hills with praise, with feet arrayed in truth

Proclaim the Treasure hid and gates of hell subdued.

  1. All martyrs to be slain, your blood at Satan’s bidding

Lift high the victor’s hymn, for Jesus goes on winning.

God’s sheep held in contempt, the world intent to kill.

The same your Lord endured, now His afflictions fill.

  1. All choristers confess, Jesus the Lamb unblemished

Unsullied blood vast shed, for sinners that would perish.

This psalm of thanks a ray, His work of grace the sun

For now and evermore, the song has just begun.

Interacting With the Insiders

The C-Spectrum is a practical tool some missionaries use to describe six types of Christian communities found in Muslim contexts. It is a coded scheme devised to see how contextualized one can become within Islam, even to the point of being considered a Muslim.

On the far left is C1, a traditional church that uses outward elements foreign to Muslim culture and considered Christian by both Christians and Muslims. On the far right is C6, supposed secret followers of Jesus but still considered Muslim by the Islamic community. Think of a C5 believer as one that makes a Muslim pause and tilt his head.

John Travis (a pseudonym) has written assiduously on this matter and is among the greatest proponents of what missiologists call the Insider Movement, a method of evangelizing Muslims that allows them to remain as active participants of Islam. Below is a summary of some C5 ideology.

Insiders Believe Religious Affiliation Doesn’t Matter

In his article, “Must all Muslims Leave Islam to Follow Jesus”, Travis tells of a question his daughter brought to him: “Daddy, can a Muslim go to heaven?”

I responded with an Acts 15:11-type ‘yes’: If a Muslim has accepted Isa (Jesus) the Messiah as Savior and Lord, he or she is saved, just as we are. We affirmed that people are saved by faith in Christ, not by religious affiliation. Muslim followers of Christ (i.e., C5 believers) are our brothers and sisters in the Lord, even though they do not change religions.

Let us keep our eye on the ball. No one is arguing against the opportunity that even the worst of sinners have for salvation. Those of any false religion will be granted eternal life based on the merits of Christ. But this girl’s question addressed the results of such a supposed conversion.

Suppose his daughter asked a similar question? “Daddy, if a Buddhist, atheist, or Satanist has accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, can he be saved and not leave his religion?” If Travis answers yes, then he has no problem with Christians dabbling in the occult and denying God’s existence. If he answers no, then I wonder why a Satanist must leave his place of worship but a Muslim must not. This brings us to the crux of the issue.

Continue reading