The Clash of World Forces in Mission Lands

CHALLENGE OF A WORLD TASK: The Clash of World Forces in Mission Lands

"Racial and national problems are absorbing the attention of the great nations of earth as at no time in past history."

Associate Secretary of the General Conference

Racial and national problems are absorb ing the attention of the great nations of earth as at no time in past history. The world is becoming conscious of the fact that liberty, equality, and democracy are not alone for nations of European background but for peoples of all lands. As a result there has de veloped in recent years a great upsurge of na tionalism which is changing the whole colonial picture, and developing an entirely new situa tion in relation to our whole mission program.

For a century and a half missionary effort has been put forth by the Christian church on behalf of the less-privileged peoples of the earth, until today millions of converts are to be counted among the native races in many lands. These people, largely as the result of the work of the church in cooperation with sympathetic colonial governments, have been lifted from the pit of superstition and ignorance, and their feet have been placed on the path to spiritual en lightenment and social progress.

But with this advance there has developed a clash of ideologies. The colonial governments, while helping to lift the colored races to a higher civilization, have at the same time fos tered a policy of overlordship and exploitation. Also the various forms of self-government now enjoyed in some lands have in most cases been granted only after serious national clashes have occurred between the native peoples and the colonial forces. In other countries the problem is still unsolved. These conditions have engen dered bitterness, and have opened the way for subversive propaganda, which has greatly com plicated the whole problem.

nrest and possible future serious clashes over the troubled question as to whether a larger share in the government shall be granted to the native peoples than iri the past. In some in stances whole races are travailing in pain as new nations are coming to the hour of birth. This hour approaches under the most unfavor able circumstances wherein the attendants are often unskilled and inexperienced in govern mental matters. Some in their ignorance, but with good intentions, grasp control and thus try to ease the birth pains, and others try to hinder or delay the inevitable hour.

But, as in all nature, when the time for deliverance arrives the child must be born. No amount of wishful thinking or a desire to post pone the event can cause delay. According to the great clock of the ages, the time for a series of new nations to be born has arrived. Within the space of a few short years we have seen the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Burma, Ceylon, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, and other countries take their places among the independent nations of the earth. Others are in travail, and the time of their deliverance draws near.

The conditions that are bringing about these world changes are the natural outgrowth of one hundred years of missionary and educational endeavor in which the ideals of liberty and de mocracy have been taught by both church and state. The hope of complete self-government has been held out as the ultimate goal of a Christian community. All this would be desir able and proper were it not for the subversive propaganda that is being directed against the existing colonial governments in the name of democracy, but emanating from sources which would destroy liberty and set up dictatorial powers over these expectant races who long for liberty and a decent standard of living. Under the circumstances there is a real danger that these countries, struggling in their birth pangs, will fall under the domination of overlords who, claiming to bring deliverance, will in reality shackle the infant nations of earth with a serf dom ten times more galling than that under which they have suffered during the past cen tury. So we see that the clash of world forces has involved the native peoples of the earth in its struggle for world dominion.

Into this maelstrom of conflicting currents of national aspirations and contending ideologies, we send forth our missionaries. They go out to carry the message of peace and good will. How ever, they must take cognizance of these world conditions. While standing entirely aloof from the conflicts themselves, they cannot ignore the changing times and the great surge of national ism that is sweeping over the world. They must realize that because of these conditions the mis sion approach today must be different from what it was in former years.

Our world mission program must be re- studied in the light of modern trends. The un derprivileged peoples of the earth are demanding a larger share in the wealth, the resources, and the administration of their respective coun tries. These conditions, though primarily na tional problems, are also present in the native church. We cannot ignore them. We should not try to repress them. They are the fruit of mis sionary and educational endeavor, and should be directed but not suppressed.

It is my earnest conviction that we must rise to the situation and face our missionary en- deaver with a sympathetic understanding of the present national aspirations of these peoples, who for so long have had little opportunity to develop administrative ability in our work be cause we have withheld that opportunity from them. Now, however, as they are emerging into larger civil freedom they naturally will expect a larger share in the administration and devel opment of the church in their respective coun tries.

I am thankful that this hour does not find our church entirely unprepared. During the past decades we have built up a corps of national workers who have been bearing at least limited administrative responsibilities in most fields. In one division the overseas workers have had to withdraw almost entirely. There the nationals have been able to take over the completed ad ministration of the work, and carry on our de nominational activities for their own people without the help of the foreign missionaries.

This may not be the ideal, for our foreignworkers are and have been a great help and inspiration to our national leaders. But it should remind us that our studied purpose and our pol icy should ever be to give more and more re sponsibility to trusted national workers and thus train them in administrative responsibili ties.

We face an uncertain future. We do not know how long we may carry on our work under the present administrative setup. Only one thing is certain—we know that present world conditions will get worse rather than bet ter. The work we might have done under more favorable circumstances will have to be done in the time of trouble that lies ahead. Our God, who has led us thus far, will not forsake His work, but we must wisely plan that the work may be finished with the full cooperation and loyal support of our national workers in all lands.

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Associate Secretary of the General Conference

July 1950

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