The Secret of Missionary Success

The Secret of Missionary Success

Mission Problems and Methods.

By LEON REPLOGLE, Departmental Secretary, East Brazil Union Mission

The greatest obstacle to progress in the foreign missions program today is the dearth of men and women who are fully possessed with the spirit of the True Mission­ary. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God : but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." Phil. 2:5-7.

To become our Saviour, Christ cast aside the conditions, conveniences, and comforts of heaven, and "took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." He learned the language of the people for whom He came to work. He learned to eat the food that they ate. He slept in the same kind of bed in which they slept. He did not choose to ride from place to place in the chariot of God, but with dust-soiled garments and swollen feet He arrived at His destination at the close of the day's journey.

He slept under the roof of the humble peas­ant. He became acquainted with their griefs, sorrows, and anxieties. He became interested in all the phases of life with which His hearers were concerned. By so doing, He was able to speak "as one having authority," and not as the scribes and the Pharisees, who kept them­selves at a distance from people of the common walks of life.

Christ might have come to this world speak­ing the language of angels. He might have brought to earth one of heaven's mansions, fitted with the best of comforts. But He chose rather to be one with us. He "made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant."

The modern missionary is cumbered with many things as he prepares to leave the home­land to go to the mission field. He has an electric refrigerator, an electric washing machine, a bed with a good inner-spring mattress, and one of the most modern radios, so as to be able to keep in touch with the home­land. But to the native peoples, who are unaccustomed to such luxuries, these are looked upon as extravagances. The gulf that these things create between missionaries and people must not be forgotten.

In the States, it seems to be considered admissible for a woman to put a little color on her cheeks, if her complexion is naturally a bit sallow. And it is not considered an un­pardonable sin for her to touch up her finger­nails with a little polish. But some little thing like this may wreck the experience of a mis­sionary family, especially if they are a bit stubborn in regard to taking the advice of some of the other workers who are on the ground.

There are many problems that the modern missionary must encounter as he enters the foreign field. Usually he has a new language to learn. Those who live in the new country consider their language to be the best language on earth, and anyone who uses their language in a blundering way does not have the influence he should in winning them to the truth. In contrast, there may be national workers who are by birth good orators, elo­quent in speech, who are able to give a modu­lation to their speaking and put a feeling into what they say, that the missionary cannot seem to achieve.

The missionary and the people are on en­tirely different levels. The missionary is get­ting more wages than the national. His living is on a higher scale. His dietary is different. By all these devices, he erects a barrier between himself and the people for whom he is endeavoring to work. A for­eigner is looked upon with suspicion, not only by the common people, but by the government itself. And it behooves the missionary to do as much as he can to break down this wall of suspicion which greatly hinders his influence.

In spite of all the obstacles or problems which the missionary must face, he may still experi­ence success if he is willing to pay the price. If he can learn to love the people for whom he is working, if he is willing to make "himself of no reputation," and take "upon him the form of a servant," and get down to "the like­ness" of the men for whom he is working, his life will speak so loudly that his defects of speech will pass unheard, and nationality will be overlooked.

The need of the hour calls for a return to the missionary spirit of the pioneers who started the great missionary advance to heathen lands. When Allen Gardiner was a boy, he slept out on the ground, so that he would become tough and accustomed to the hardships of travel that he expected to endure later on in missionary life. In 185o, he, with six others, pioneered the way to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost point of the South American continent. They landed with provisions for six months. Many were the hardships they passed through during those early days. The provisions became ex­hausted, and one by one the members of the party died. When a rescue party arrived, they found their bones bleaching on the bleak and wind-swept cliffs overlooking the ocean.

We need the spirit of the early Moravian missionaries, who chose to work for those in the most spiritually barren and forbidding places of the earth, such as the Eskimos of Greenland, the inhabitants of the West Indies, and the people of the northeast coast of South America between the Orinoco and the Amazon Rivers. After working for forty-eight years in this last-mentioned place, they had only fifty converts, and for a time every convert cost the life of a missionary.

A soldier, who is really patriotic and loves his country is willing to endure any hardship, that the honor of his country may be vindicated. He is willing to stand in water knee-deep in the trenches and endure all kinds of hazards. He brushes aside all the comforts and luxuries of life, and is willing to lay down life itself, that the cause for which he is fighting may triumph.

Shall we, as soldiers of the cross, who have the everlasting gospel to give to the world, be unwilling to endure as much? Rather, shall not we, who are to be used as instruments in God's hands to fill the earth with the light of His glory, be willing to endure hardships as good soldiers of Jesus Christ?


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By LEON REPLOGLE, Departmental Secretary, East Brazil Union Mission

June 1942

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