Discussion of who to prioritize in Mission efforts
PRIORITY OF COMMUNIST EVANGELISM
QUESTION: What do you think of the following quote? From Richard Wurmbrand's book, TORTURED FOR CHRIST, page 63, c.1967 "All the areas in which missionaries labor so hard, such as New Guinea or Madagascar, will follow simply if the Communist rulers are won, because this will give Christianity am entirely new impetus.
"I have personally known converted communists. I myself was a militant atheist in my youth. Converted atheists and communists love Christ much, because they have sinned very much.
"Strategic thought is needed in missionary work. From the point of view of salvation all souls are equal; from the point of view of missionary strategy they are not equal. It is more important to win a man of great influence, who can afterward win thousands, than to speak to a savage in the jungle assuring salvation only for him. Therefore Jesus chose to end His ministry not in some small village, but in Jerusalem, the spiritual headquarters of the world. For this same reason Paul strove so much to arrive in Rome.
"The Bible says: 'The seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent.' We tickle the serpent on the belly, making him laugh. The head of the serpent is somewhere between Moscow and Peking, not in Tunis or Madagascar. The communist world must be the chief concern of church leaders and mission directors as well as of every thoughtful Christian."
ANSWER From: Bruce Sidebotham <73362.1503@CompuServe.COM> I agree that some missions work and some areas are more strategic than others. Wurmbrand was probably correct about the strategic nature of the Communist world in 1967. However, times have changed. Power is shifting to countries with the most dynamic populations, namely China and India. Anti-Western sentiment in these countries is probably the single biggest obstacle the gospel faces. When Christians start getting killed for their faith in the West, then perhaps it will become a fad to be a Christian in the East. Much as I dislike it, the historical pattern for Christianity with respect to civilizations goes from resistance, to permeation, on to assimilation, and then back to resistance with the presence of a small remnant. Historically the demise of Christianity in one civilization has coincided with its growth in another. This may be more than coincidence, and may be related to issues of cultural pride which can be both chasms and bridges. Our hopes and prayers for revival in Russia, America, and Europe go against precedent Christianity in Western and Orthodox civilization has been in decline, as it was centuries ago in the Middle East and North Africa. How much did antagonism from the Middle East contribute to Christianization of the West? In most of Latin America and black Africa Christianity is in the permeation and assimilation stage. In China and India it is beginning to take hold. Muslim Central Asia and a few other places may be the "last frontier."
ANSWER From: Justin Long <email@example.com> I think the quote is somewhat dated at this point. Most of the old Communist empire is in a period of transition and Christians are at work there, everywhere. I think the Muslim and Chinese world--the 10/40 Window, mainly--should be the paramount concern of every thoughtful Christian.
ANSWER From: <Mikeehc@aol.com> I think that there is a lot of value in reaching people of influence to win others through their positions. However, I think that the author is incorrect in thinking that this is the only or the best Biblical position. I believe that the model which Jesus used is the best. He chose those who we would not have chosen in our human ignorance - a bunch of stinky fishermen, an IRS agent, a doctor, and a "professional" theologian (Paul) to name a few... These were not men of great influence - that is how they were used so well. God was able to show HIS great influence and power through the transformation in their lives. Also, Jerusalem was the spiritual center for Jews and Christians, but not for the majority of the world's population. What about China (or India) which had a huge population and a developed religious system at that time? The author's position is one of a "Western Civilization" focus - which is quite typical among many of us as we seem to forget about most of the world when we think about Rome, Jerusalem, etc. I think that he makes some good points, but his overall premise is not something which I can agree with nor is it something which most people who seriously contemplate this issue can agree with.
ANSWER From: SeniorAmbassadors@xc.org (Art McCleary) [Three thoughts related to the article_] Was it really beneficial for the spread of the gospel when Constantine legalized Christianity?
Did Jesus focus his ministry on the rulers or the common people? As I read the gospels, it seems that the religious leaders and political leaders were the most resistant Paul kept hoping to stop at Rome on his way to Spain, where he could again focus on establishing a church where none existed. He wasn't making plans to stay at Rome and win over the political rulers.
The peoples of Tunis, Madagascar, etc. have a different world view than the communist leaders in Moscow and Peking. Their conversion to Christ will be neither facilitated nor hindered by the response of communist rulers.
WORLD C MINISTRIES SHOULD PROMOTE WORLD A NEEDS
[Following is an excerpt from a Monday Morning Reality Check by Justin Long (Global Evangelization Movement www.gem-werc.org). "World C" represents the Christianized world and "World B" Non-Christians within reach of the gospel, whereas "World A" would represent Unreached People Groups.~NW]
..Many churches hold Easter pageants and "passion plays," some with long production runs. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that much of this sort of activity - the sermons, the pageants, etc. - is directed toward World C... Let me highlight one way in which a ministry like an Easter pageant can help ALL THREE WORLDS AT THE SAME TIME... My own home church, Kempsville Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach, Va., hosts "The Man Called Jesus," a major production with more than 15 performances this year alone... [This Easter pagent] isn't just being shown for two weeks here in the United States. Beginning a few years ago, the TMCJ cast began taking it on short-term mission trips abroad. This year, they will be taking three mission trips with the production: one to Russia (World B) and two into World A countries. Ticket and product sales here in the United States are used in part to help fund these trips. Already they've seen many Muslims come to Christ as a result of this ministry. This is a model that just about any church could reproduce, with a little bit of assistance, some vision, and some creativity. Taking these ministries into World A can be a bit problematic, and it's something I urge you NOT to do alone, but rather in partnership with others...
REALITY CHECK Ministries to World C are good, but we must look for ways that this ministry can also be used to spark, enhance, and support mission to World A. Offers to become disciples ought to be complimented with offers to become missionaries...