The church periodicals of other denominations have a good deal to say just now regarding the foreign mission problem. Leaders are thinking. They are concerned with the problem of maintaining present work, at least in part. Looking to the future, and seeking the best plan to follow after the war, they are examining the entire structure of their mission organization. They recognize that some fundamental changes have already taken place, and that in many respects the former conditions have passed away forever. But nowhere have we met the suggestion that missions have had their day and will soon cease to be. On the contrary the trend is toward larger plans, a more comprehensive treatment of the whole question, and a more truly international Christian fellowship.
It is interesting to sketch through some of the articles that deal with various phases of the mission problem. Ralph E. Diffendorfer, writing in the Methodist Zions Herald of March 4, asserts:
"A real revival of Christian life is going on today in many countries of Europe and especially in those countries that are suffering most. Every evidence we have from Europe indicates that more real evangelistic work is being done in the countries where the church is under pressure than where it is not."
He goes on to cite illustrations from Sweden, Finland, Poland, Bohemia, Moravia, Belgium, Germany, France, and then from Japan, Korea, China, and other parts of the Far East, showing that in all these countries there are "open doors" of every kind for the Christian church. "In the years ahead," he says, "we must move in and greatly strengthen our services to these eager millions.... It is an opportunity for service that comes but once in a century."
Encouraging reports could also be made of the progress of Seventh-day Adventists. Although little news comes in from the occupied parts of Europe, enough information filters through to assure us that this gospel of the kingdom is still being preached in adversity as truly as ever it was in prosperity, "in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings." 2 Cor. 6:4, 5. The gospel commission makes no concession to war or calamity. It makes abundant provision for every contingency in the blessed assurance, "Lo, I am with you alway."
"The time has long passed," says the January 29 issue of the Christian Advocate, "when missionary gifts could be considered a 'benevolence.' The upkeep of the Christian church has become a matter of the first-line defense of civilization. The enterprise of the church is no longer national or racial. It is worldwide."
The Christian Century of January 14 speaks soberly of the "dark day for missions" which, for the time, has overtaken Christendom, reminding us of the strong probability that missions will have to "work in an atmosphere much more unfriendly than it has known for a hundred years."
"Sooner or later," the writer goes on to say, "desperate humanity must turn to the Chris= tian gospel for the spiritual basis for world community. There simply is no ideology, no philosophy, no other faith, to which it can turn."
The Presbyterian looks forward to sending missionaries to Europe in the years to come, feeling that one reason for the present ascendancy of totalitarian governments is the failure of the church to stand strongly against the encroachments of the state.
Dr. Charles T. Leber, secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, writing in the March 5 number, has this to say regarding the future of Christianity;
"It is my conviction that, as Americans and as a church, we have not yet learned our lesson from this war. We are still sure of our racial superiority and of our reliance upon our materialism. We must eradicate this idea of our superiority or we will have before long a race war in this world. I am convinced, too, that this attack has been made upon us in some places because of the strength of our Christianity and not because of its weakness. We must admit that there are no Christian nations, but that a minority in each country make up the true Christianity. I am sure that the growing strength of Christianity in China contributed to the present invasion of China by Japan, that in the Philippines and Thailand the strength of the Christian movement helped bring on the attack by Japan, and that the attack noon Christianity in India was brought on by the fact that Gandhi was not able to draw the Christians into a synthesis of all religions. And I am convinced that we are being prepared for the greatest missionary advance in the history of Christianity when this war is over."
This is enough, perhaps, to give a general idea of how the Christian church views the mission problem. One will notice at once that nothing is said of a finishing work and a soon-coming Saviour. That is where Seventh-day Adventists come in. Our task is to preach the everlasting gospel in the fullness of the judgment hour and to herald the second advent of the Son of man. If other Christian communions realize the need of planning for a growing, world-wide work to be carried on in spite of changing governments and increasingly difficult conditions, with how much greater earnestness should Seventh-day Adventists see to it that we are not found wanting in this day of opportunity!
Our reasons are stronger than theirs. They carry on missionary work in many instances to offer the peoples of earth what is largely a social gospel; a comforting philosophy, a more consistent ideology; but we preach the opening heavens. They endeavor to present these human inventions in solution with a diluted gospel, but we declare that the day of the Lord is at hand. They look for earthly reforms. We look for new heavens and a new earth. We honor and respect them for their wide vision and their courageous planning. We must bring to our peculiar and timely task, however, a far more comprehensive understanding, a much deeper devotion, a more divine daring, knowing that the night is far spent. The zeal of the Lord of hosts is to perform great things far beyond the limits of our finite understanding. Surely the least this denomination can do is to lay the broadest plans, to prepare for the greatest advance, to dedicate itself to God for the mightiest, final achievements of the gospel in all the world.