On the last day of 1899, Chinese revolutionaries abducted Sidney Brooks, a 24 year old missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The Chinese tortured Sidney for hours and then murdered him. The greatest century of Christian advance ended with a vicious backlash in China.
1900, the last year of the nineteenth century, was a year of momentous upheavals and widespread murder of missionaries in China. There had always been hostility to foreigners and foreign religions in China, and in the late 1890’s, the Society of Harmonious Fists, or Boxers, began organising a systematic campaign to eradicate Christianity from China.
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"The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner." William Cameron Townsend.
From the Battlefield to the Mission Field
William Cameron Townsend was one of the most influential mission leaders in the last century. Born in California in 1896, raised in a Presbyterian Church, he was inspired to join the Student Volunteer Movement after hearing missionary John Mott speak at Occidental College in Los Angeles. In 1917, as William Townsend prepared to join the army and participate in the war, he was challenged by a missionary on furlough to make the Great Commission his priority and go to the mission field instead of the battlefield.
Does God Speak My Language?
He departed for Guatemala, August 1917, with a Bible Association that sold Spanish Bibles in the field. He had almost completed his first year of service in Guatemala when one of the Kaqchikel Indians approached his table, looked at the Spanish Bible and asked "If your God is so smart, why doesn’t He speak my language?" Cameron was shocked to learn that although this man lived in Guatemala, he was one of the 200,000 Kaqchikel people who spoke no Spanish. The cutting comment of this Indian so troubled Cameron, that he dedicated the next 13 years of his life to translating the Bible into their language.
Greetings in the precious Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
"…Praise the Lord, call upon His Name; declare His deeds among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done excellent things; this is known in all the earth." Isaiah 12:4-5
From the Ends of the Earth
Participants for this year's Great Commission Course came from as far afield as America, Canada, England, Kenya and New Zealand. Participants wrote that they came to the GCC: "to be empowered, so that I can empower others.", "to learn to be more effective.", "to gain courage and boldness" and for "duty and desire to glorify God."
Today there are numerous attempts to hijack Christmas from its Christian origins and to replace Jesus with some secular Santa Clause. The original Saint Nicolas, on which Santa Clause is based, was a dedicated Christian who was generous to the poor. That was the inspiration for Santa Clause. However, today Hollywood has built up a huge mythology of a secular Santa Clause that is far more acceptable to secular humanists and atheists than the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no doubt that the harvest is very large and the workers are far too few. However, I have become increasingly concerned about how ill-prepared most mission volunteers are on entering the field. Also disturbing is how little discernment is evidenced in all too many cases.
Frustrations in the Field
Over the years, I have tried to give an honest and balanced report on the problems, frustrations and difficulties of the field, without unduly glamourising missions. Of course one wants to encourage and inspire fellow Believers to wholehearted commitment to world missions, but, even from the earliest years of Frontline Fellowship, I have felt the need to also issue words of warning and caution as to the real dangers and difficulties involved. The Lord warned us to count the cost and much of what I have heard in different missions conferences seem to be setting up well-meaning people for inevitable disappointment and even disaster.
Did you know that the first English translations of the Bible were banned?
Did you know that the first printed copies of the New Testament in English had to be printed in Germany and smuggled into England in bales of cotton?
Did you know that the Bible translator responsible for this was burned at the stake for the crime of translating the Scriptures into English?
Bishop Stephen Bradley observed: “We are in danger of forgetting truths for which previous generations gave their lives.”