The Missionary Vocation
W. P. BRADLEY: General Conference Associate Secretary
Every man and woman called to labor in the service of God is by that very act also called to be a missionary. In our thinking we tend to divide missionaries into two categories, home missionaries and foreign missionaries. This is a distinction that is made only for the sake of convenience in organization. There are not two types of calls in God's work, one that applies to the home missionary and another to the foreign missionary. Both are activated by the same gospel summons.
When Christ was first calling His disciples into service, their assignments were naturally of a local or at least a regional nature. Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matt. 4:19. This was a general call, with no territorial assignment as yet. When He sent out the twelve apostles He instructed them to direct their mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matt. 10:6.) When the seventy were appointed they were told to go "into every city and place, whither he himself would come." Luke 10:1. And finally, when Jesus enunciated the gospel commission, He definitely commanded in the broadest terms that His representatives should go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15.
The missionary enterprise, overseas as well as at home, is therefore the imperative concern of every Christian minister, for it constitutes the very substance of his calling. If there is no worldwide mission, he has no calling. If there is such a mission, but he refuses to recognize its authority, he has missed the basic purpose of his vocation. If in his own planning he places territorial limits on the field of his call into the ministry, he is thereby negating the operation of the gospel as the plan of salvation for all men. The world is a unit; the human race is one in the sight of God. The call to labor as God's emissary is to the whole world. For the sake of good organization one's heavenly ambassadorship may be in the nature of an appointment to labor in behalf of the people of a particular area. But this does not nullify the inherent universal nature of the gospel minister's call ing to go to all men. Every Christian minister is an ambassador at large.
"Go, preach My gospel," saith the Lord;
"Bid the whole world My grace receive;
He shall be saved who trusts My word,
And they condemned who disbelieve."
A Penetrating Question
I still recall quite vividly the circumstances under which I was ordained to the gospel ministry. The committee having jurisdiction had voted to approve of my ordination. A small committee of three leading ministers met with my wife and me to inform us of the committee's action, to ex amine us, and to prepare for the service. During the interview these ministers asked us questions about doctrine, about our relationship to Christ, even about our personal finances. Finally the chairman looked searchingly at each of us in turn and said, "I want to ask you as you prepare for this solemn service of dedication and the laying on of hands: Are you willing to go to the ends of the earth in the service of the Lord? Do you have any reservations in your mind regarding where and how you will heed the call of God?"
It was a penetrating question, one not to be answered lightly. But as I have often thought of the occasion, it has seemed to me that it was a proper question, not at all out of place in connection with the set ting aside of a man to the gospel ministry. My wife and I were being asked to recognize the principle that my ordination was to a world task, and that I would be untrue to the Lord I served, and to the church whose official representatives laid their hands upon me, if I placed geographical limits upon the service required of me.
It follows from this that a minister or any other gospel worker should never be surprised or shocked on receiving an invitation to serve in a foreign land. Why should he be surprised? The invitation of the church to a minister to labor abroad is only an opening of the door so that he can carry out the terms of his appointment, to which he has been committed from the time he became a worker. In reaching a decision whether or not to go, the worker should not find it necessary to review the terms of his calling. These are as clear as can be and are without limitation of time or place. There are some factors he will have to weigh: whether it is timely to leave his present work, whether there is a family duty that will stand in the way, or whether he is best prepared to do the particular work suggested. But these factors are secondary to his basic commitment to service as a representative of a gospel that is universal. He cannot lightly refuse its rightful claims upon him. To do so has the implication of slighting the gospel message itself. If selfish considerations cause him to refuse God's call, his own spiritual fitness for the ministry will suffer damage, and his words will have a hollow sound.
The service of God requires that each of His representatives be filled with a holy restlessness, a divine uneasiness, that forbids any servant of God to sink his roots so deeply that it is impossible to move him to a new field. Great perplexity comes to the conference committee when a minister again and again refuses to be disturbed, but insists on remaining where he is. How can he remain settled upon his lees, when there are still dark corners in the conference, the division, the world? The world is in need, it is perishing, and time is fast running out! The faraway need may be one for an evangelist, or a mission administrator, or a medical worker, or a treasurer. But that is also God's work, part of the mission field He has pointed out to all of us. It therefore becomes our own concern, and we cannot reject the responsibility of that field just because it lies at a distance.
Would it not be well for each of us, as ministers of Christ, to restudy the basic terms of our mission and our own personal responsibility under these terms?
"Anywhere, dear Saviour,
In Thy vineyard wide,
Where Thou bidst me labor,
Lord, there would I abide.
Miracle of saving grace,
That Thou givest me a place."
Missions in 1952
V. T. ARMSTRONG: President, Far Eastern Division
This may well be the most decisive year in the history of missions. Several reasons might be given to support such a statement. There are reasons in the political world. Laws and restrictions made by governments opposed or at least not favorable to Christian missions make advance difficult in many lands, and in other countries doors have closed completely to the missionaries.
This alone is an alarming fact, one which cannot be overlooked or casually brushed aside great mission fields are closed today to the preaching of the Word. Surely the heaviest blow given Christian missions in the past century has been struck within the last two years. These are alarming facts, and should arouse the church to united prayer and action. In this mighty hour, when the message of God is to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, can we see doors closing, opportunities to sound the message being smothered, and the workers for God silenced by banishment, persecution, imprisonment, and death without a united appeal going up from the church everywhere day and night for the Lord of the harvest to interpose mightily now?
The opportunities in fields still open were never more promising. Conditions in the world are causing many to seek for light. The calls for Christian education are far beyond all former demands and cannot be met with present facilities and staffs. Christian doctors and nurses see the sick coming to them in ever-increasing numbers. In their endeavor to treat all who come they are increasing the hours of work until physical strength will permit no more, and even then needy sick are turned away or not adequately treated.
Thus 1952 is a decisive year for missions, when doors are swinging shut because there is a lack of interest and appreciation or because there is direct opposition by those who direct government affairs.
This could be a most fruitful year in soul winning in mission lands, for the fields are ripe for harvest, and many are ready to receive the message of salvation. If doors close so the workers cannot enter, many of these wonderful opportunities will be lost.
Another reason why 1952 is a decisive year for missions is found in the religious world. The two world wars have both had a very definite and far-reaching effect upon the people of all lands, but nowhere is this more pronounced than upon the masses of the Orient. The old feeling of reverential awe for things Occidental has to a large degree passed away. The races of the Orient have received a distinct impetus for political autonomy. Such watchwords as "democracy" and "self-determination" have awakened ambitions that might be the promise of better days for the cause of missions. Surely the missionary should strive to bring the native church to the place where leadership and financial strength can come locally rather than be imported. But it is not these awakened ambitions that are deplored. While the wars have changed the thinking of the masses in the Orient, there have also come great changes in the people of the Occident. The attitude toward missions is not the same. The conviction that the world needs Jesus Christ has greatly lessened. Too many reason that, after all, some plan of salvation aside from the Christian gospel can be offered the-heathen. This is the fruit of the seeds sown through the years. While influences outside the church have done damage to the cause of missions, within the church there is greater cause for alarm. Modernism, or liberalism, in belief and teaching, which discounts the Bible as the Inspired Word of God, has robbed the church of the faith of our fathers and blinded our eyes to our need of Pentecostal power. It is this condition within the church that makes 1952 a decisive year for missions.
The Key to World Evangelism
But you may say that this is surely not the condition in the remnant church. We are not modernists. We still believe the whole Bible. We are fundamentalists. Yes, we can be most thankful that we still have a message and a conviction that it should go to all the world.
But if the responsibility were resting upon us today as heavily as it did upon Paul and the other apostles, could we be indifferent to the souls lost in darkness? Paul said, "I am [a] debtor. . . . So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel." It was the general acceptance of this responsibility by the church of apostolic days that gave the first generation of missionaries their unbounded success. It will take nothing less in the remnant church to finish the task. If the same conviction could come to the church today, what a change would be seen! The key to world evangelism is not in methods, programs, and campaigns, but rather in the spiritual state of the church. The commission of Pentecost can only be fulfilled by Pentecostal power. That power can come only by a Pentecostal experience.
The church should meet the challenge of this hour with earnest prayer, heart searching, and fasting. There is a God in heaven who still watches over His people and is attentive to their cry. "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him?" Luke 18:7.
Surely God wishes the church aroused fully from her lethargy by these closed and closing doors and the opportunities passing beyond our reach forever. But without fear of contradiction we know the church today is not entering into this experience of seeking God as earnestly as these conditions and opportunities demand.
And that makes 1952 a decisive year for missions, for the reason that the church is not fully aroused, because other things have taken first place. They take first place because they are considered more important. As long as I consider my creature comforts and desires before I do my needy brothers and sisters who sit in darkness, I will not be praying as I should for their salvation. My vision will be clouded. My eye will not be single; I will not put first things first. There may be great and urgent needs in the field where I labor for God. There may be a shortage of workers, and yet the needs in my immediate field must not cause me to overlook the far greater needs of more distant fields. If in my field there are fifty ministers and I feel that none can be spared, will my prayers be as earnest as they should be for the distant needy field where the population is manifold greater, where perhaps one worker battles on alone with his millions? It is this lack of appreciation of the needs of the great unentered fields and the desire to keep more right where I labor that will nullify my prayers for the great whitened harvest fields out be yond.
Should the church pray for open doors and great opportunities, and will the church pray such a prayer, as long as the church is not ready to make every sacrifice necessary to enter those doors still open and grasp greater opportunities if they come? What would we do if great stretches of territory now closed should, under the power of God, open up and call for messengers to come? Would we be willing to cut our personal needs and make greater personal sacrifices? Would we divide our funds and working staff so that newly opened fields could be manned? We pray for the latter rain. We know it must come, or we can never finish the task. Can we expect the fullness of the latter rain until we are willing to put all on the altar for service wherever the need is the greatest?
The year 1952 is a decisive year in the mission program. For one thing, we are near the end of time. We have no assurance of many more years to come. We are already living on borrowed time. If you knew that the last call for missions would be sounded in 1952, how would you respond? As a worker speaking to the church, what would you say, and how would you appeal for that mission offering? Would you intensify your efforts to swell the funds? Would you be willing to go or urge someone else to go if called for mission service? The last call for help and the last opportunity to give, to divide resources, to share workers, will come. It might be in 1952.
Yes, 1952 is a decisive year for missions, because opportunities are great and may soon be gone forever, because fields wait and the harvest time passes, because the church may let secondary things cloud the vision and therefore not make first things first. May an awakened church sense the needs and opportunities so that, under the mighty outpouring of the Spirit, 1952 may be a most decisive year for Seventh-day Adventist missions.
Christ's Approach to an Alien Faith
PAUL E. QUIMBY: Professor of Theology, Pacific Union College (Former Missionary in China]
The essential credentials I that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has for its place in the world are found in Revelation 14:6-12. In this important Bible reference a specific task is outlined, and the accomplishment of this most serious and important task has been assigned to this people. The introductory statement of this commission is as follows:
"I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." Rev. 14:6.
Let none misunderstand or minimize this task. The message is not only to be preached. There must be results. In Matthew 28:19, 20 Christ stated it slightly differently. Here the commission is to "teach all nations," and it also says, "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Therefore, the requirement is, "Make disciples." Men and women of "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" must be convinced of the truth in the three angels' messages and accept it as their means of eternal salvation.
This work of soul winning is of such great importance, of such serious nature, involves so many problems, and demands such delicate technique that Christ, the great Master Evangelist, in His ministry gave the necessary example for the execution of every phase of it.
As has already been observed in the Rev elation text, there comes within the scope and purview of the great commission the evangelization of many peoples and races with totally alien and strange religious beliefs, also all those in the Christian fold who hold to denominational persuasions who have not accepted God's present truth.
Every worker in the cause of God must continually come in contact with individuals of other religious belief, either Christian or non-Christian. All are "sent" as emissaries to approach them with the truth. The question constantly comes to the worker: How can I tactfully and success fully visit these individuals and give them the good news of salvation in Christ?
The most unique example of the approach, process, and successful culmination of that achievement is found in Christ's experience with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. The Samaritan woman was a devotee of another religious philosophy. It is most interesting how Christ approached her and accomplished her salvation.
After a brief discussion concerning the virtue of the water of Jacob's well and the water that Christ had to give, the woman in great concern and amazement asked Christ, "Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well?" This question put to Christ by a person with an entirely different interpretation of life is typical of the great query of the non-Christian world when confronted with Jesus Christ today.
All great ethnic peoples have their father Jacob who left them a well. He, their father Jacob, drank from it; so have his children. For centuries, yea, for millenniums, they have reposed reverence and confidence in it. From him they have drawn their age long inspiration and guidance. To them their father Jacob that gave them their well has been, and continues to be, an over- towering figure and matchless leader.
Christ had asked the woman, "Give me to drink." He first asked for water from her well, the well from which she had throughout life drawn her water. He proceeded to drink from her well. The Samaritan woman then was confident that Christ spoke from personal experience and authority when He invited her to receive from Him the "living water." One definite reason for her acceptance of His water of life was that she was convinced that Christ knew all about Jacob; He had a full appreciation of the well that her father Jacob had given them.
In full sincerity He could say, "Whoso ever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." Jesus was fully acquainted with both waters.. The woman was moved with the conviction that Jesus was verily a prophet.
A Witness Unto All Nations
Matthew 24:14 says, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations." Again, Rev elation 14:6 states that the everlasting gospel is to be preached "unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." All the great ethnic groups of earth, which come within the purview of these two verses and are to receive the everlasting gospel, have had their father Jacob, and they have inherited from him the well he gave them. To mention a few, there were Confucius and Laot- zu, the great Jacobs of the Chinese race. And most certainly these two great sages gave to the Chinese deep wells of ethical philosophy and thought. Then in the great Indo- Gangetic civilization, India, there were Mahavira and Gautama, Jacobs who gave to the myriads of India and all Northern, Eastern, and Southeastern Asia their wells of religion from which they have drunk for, lo, these thousands of years. Other Jacobs in yet other great ancient centers of civilization, who gave to their race the wells of thought and religion, could be mentioned. And truly, like the Samaritan woman's well, the wells of philosophy which all these sages have given their people, from which they have by the myriads been drinking for millenniums, are very deep.
Christ Greater Than Jacob
It would now be very reasonable to conclude that candidates for foreign service in particular must be able to prove convincingly and conclusively, to the reasonable satisfaction of the people or race among whom they are sent to labor, that Christ truly is greater than their father Jacob. And the most economical and successful way to do it is the way Christ did it with the Samaritan woman. At the approach of the missionary the very first thought that occupies the minds of the individuals among whom he is to labor is, "Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well?" This question from the viewpoint of the non-Christian may be honestly asked. But how will our missionary be able to give an intelligent answer, express an honest opinion, and give a convincing assurance from the viewpoint of the non-Christian if he knows nothing of their Jacob and the well which he gave them? It would appear to be very clear that before and during the missionary's period of service among any of these great races of people, he should reasonably equip himself, as Jesus did, with the essential knowledge of the founders of the religion of that people, and also should have a reasonable knowledge and appreciation of the well of teachings that these people hold dear.
The fact must be kept in mind that when we enter a foreign, non-Christian field, even though no missionary has preceded us, we do not find a religious vacuum. We are not dealing with individuals who have absolutely no religious philosophy. Every race has had its father Jacob and the faith that has been handed down from generation to generation. Our missionary approaches them with the plan that they give up something which they hold very dear in exchange for something else which we claim is infinitely better. Their religion and the seasoned faith they have in it cannot be brushed aside with a casual sweep of the hand. We must use again the same approach that Christ used, by possessing that knowledge and appreciation of their father Jacob; then they will be convinced that the missionary's appraisal of what he has to offer them is unbiased, intelligent, and honest.
If we wish to guide the non-Christian peoples into a new philosophy of life, we must use Christ's method and the only successful pedagogical approach going from the known to the unknown. We must know what they know, at least to the extent that we can see through their eyes. We must know their father Jacob as Christ did. We must start with what they know, then gradually approach and present that which they do not know. What they already have must have an examination, evaluation, and appraisal.
Earth's Millions Waiting
E. ROBERT REYNOLDS: Evangelist, West Pakistan Union Mission
Past the new Seventh-day Adventist hospital in the city of Karachi, Pakistan, runs one of the widest streets in the city. It is, in fact, the principal road in town, and one of the busiest. Some time ago this young nation was shocked by the announcement of the assassination of its beloved prime minister, Lia- quat AH Khan. In planning for his funeral the government authorities decreed that the funeral procession should pass down this broad highway. After a very orderly funeral and procession literally hundreds of thousands of the populace crowded into the street on their way to pay their last respects to their honored leader at his tomb.
It was my privilege to be in Karachi at the time, and as I stood on the steps of the hospital entrance and watched the multitudes file past, it seemed to me that the street became a river of humanity. And then the thought gripped me that here were thousands upon thousands traveling another broad road, the end of which is also a grave a Christless, eternal grave. They became to my thinking the symbol of the more than sixty million in this Islamic country for whom a loving Saviour died, yet who know Him not.
I became impressed with the inability of the current working staff of the mission in this country to warn these millions of im pending destruction. Obviously not all of them would be converted, if they were warned. I say, if they were warned, because although we might plan to reach them with the saving truth of the gospel of Jesus, thousands are dying daily who are yet un- reached. This gospel of the kingdom will not lay hold in its appeal upon the hearts of all, but it is nevertheless to be "preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations" (Matt. 24:14) "and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" (Rev. 14:6). And these Pakistani millions are only part of the multitudes to be reached.
Time is short. On every hand one finds daily evidence to support this conclusion. Throughout the Middle East events are tak ing place that almost startle the student of Bible prophecy as he sees the harbingers of the end. One might easily speculate, on the basis of recent events that have happened in this part of the world, as to the rapidity with which the final movements are transpiring and will continue to transpire.
One need only read in the papers of Islam of the mutual support that the majority of the Middle Eastern nations are promising each other in their growing antagonism to the Western way of life. One illustration of this feeling has been picked up and reported by Time, in the Pacific edition, October 1, 1951. It tells of a sullen young Arab who had served a jail term for subversive activities, and who was at the time of the story the organizer of a demonstration put on by refugees protesting their constant removal from one displaced per sons' camp to another. The story well reveals the tense situation centering near Palestine. From this vantage point one cannot help feeling that the historic position of Seventh-day Adventists concerning Bible prophecies that bear on the East may be on the threshold of fulfillment.
Our Message Is Urgent
Hence there is an imperative urgency that this gospel of the kingdom be preached for a witness to the millions outside of Jesus Christ. But on the other hand, one is staggered at the immensity of the task at hand. How can it be done? With a feeling akin at times to hopelessness, the worker for God beholds the nearness of the harvest and the sheaves that might be garnered if only from somewhere the Master would supply the men and means.
Men are needed. Money and materials are essential to the successful conclusion of the work. But with time so short, funds so limited, laborers so few, _ and material equipment so small in quantity in comparison to the greatness of the need, one is compelled to realize that only outside of and beyond his own energy, and that of his fellow workers, is the work to be completed. Oh, to grasp the promise, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts"! Zech. 4:6.
As ambassadors for Christ, beseeching men to be reconciled to God, the ministers of God are to entreat them as earnestly as though Christ Himself were standing in their place and pleading with them. In fact, with "Christ in you, the hope of glory," Jesus is pleading with them through His human vehicles.
But the question is: Are we, to whom the ministry and word of reconciliation have been given, faithful ambassadors true representatives of the King of heaven?
In our public ministry we are to stand before men and preach Christ. But realizing the futility of attempting the task in our own strength, and knowing that mere mechanics of procedure, with all the blessings of means and equipment, are powerless to finish the work, we must reach out to grasp the power of the Spirit of God. When we gain the vision of what we can be through the workings of the Holy Spirit, we will not be content to continue without this divine energy.
Preaching a Practical Gospel
Of the two forms of preaching a mere exposition of the doctrines of Christ and a life that evidences the transforming power of the gospel we preach the latter is the more powerful. And when the two are linked together, by the grace of Jesus, the possibilities for effective work for God are unlimited.
The other day there came into the Pakistan branch of the Voice of Prophecy Bible Correspondence School a letter from a Moslem. The burden of his letter was that Christianity is impractical. Taking isolated pas sages of Scripture, he endeavored to prove that if one followed the teachings of Jesus, he would be out of step with the rest of the world, and that, therefore, in order to be in harmony with one another, men would not, could not, practice Christianity. But to prove his point, this follower of Islam presented the case of a friend of his who he claimed was a leader in his church. Yet this friend had been seen by the Moslem to lose his temper on occasion and to strike a fel low. And the practicality of Christianity was immediately destroyed in the thinking of the observer.
To those who are watching, the genuine ness of Christianity stands or falls upon the relation of one's actions to the life of the Model he professes to follow. Thus it is imperative that the ambassador of Jesus Christ be a faithful representative of the Saviour, who has given him his commission. Only as he catches the vision, as Isaiah did of old, of the exalted character of Christ, and views himself in his true perspective, will he understand his need for power outside of himself. Humbling himself before God, he will be led to pray earnestly for the presence of the indwelling Spirit, that his ministry might be made abundantly fruitful. Who knows what results will attend the ministry of the worker who, fitted by this divine power, labors for the millions who sit in darkness? With self lost sight of, working not for the applause of men but for the glory of God, the humble human vessel will be used by the Holy Spirit, and a true representation will be made of the character of Christ.