Christ Seeks Asia

EVANGELICAL Christian leaders from all over the world were inspired in October, 1966, with the results of the World Congress on Evangelism held in Berlin. It was a time of renewing evangelical commitments, but the principles for accomplishing the task were necessarily quite general. . .

-Secretory, Ministerial Association, Southeast Asia Union at the time this article was written

EVANGELICAL Christian leaders from all over the world were inspired in October, 1966, with the results of the World Congress on Evangelism held in Berlin. It was a time of renewing evangelical commitments, but the principles for accomplishing the task were necessarily quite general.

Thus it was felt by many of the church leaders there that more enduring good could be accomplished if regional followups were held at which local leaders could unite to handle local problems. And this was the atmosphere for the birth, eighteen months ago, of the Asia-South Pacific Congress on Evangelism held in Singapore, November 5 to 13. About 1,100 delegates and observers, 90 percent of whom were Asians and 10 per cent of whom were from Western countries (and about half lay men), met to pray, study, and learn from one another.

What methods of evangelism work best in a resistant culture? How can we reach the one billion youth, age twenty-five and below, who people a third of our planet (which is more than the total populations of the United States, Europe, and Russia)? What are the most effective tools for a humanly impossible task? What is working best now in similar situations and cultures? These and similar questions figured prominently in the eight intensive days of the Asia congress.

Although the organizational framework was provided by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (coordinator was Dr. Stanley Mooneyham, who also coordinated the Berlin congress), yet the speakers were primarily from the twenty-four Asian countries represented. The day began with prayer groups and a Bible study period on the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3.

However, the backbone of the congress was the "Strategy Paper," presented each day. This was a presentation of a tool or a philosophy of evangelism which was relevant to the Christian churches of Asia. Following the Strategy Paper, the entire congress broke up into Encounter Groups for the purpose of discussing local implementation of the ideas of the paper. This was the feed-back session in which generalities were brought into focus and details formulated for putting into effect the techniques and methodologies suggested.

The delegates did not come with naive delusions of easy solutions. Neither did they come as omniscient professionals. Each came with some ideas, some questions, and an earnest desire to reach a segment of the world population that is less than 1 percent Christian.

Some Suggested Solutions

Seventh-day Adventists, in Asia as well as elsewhere, can learn from what happened in Singapore. First, the delegates came with a great sense of expectancy. They fully believed that while they were closeted here God would speak to them and reveal new, more efficient, avenues of approach to non-Christians.

Second, there was little theory. The question was constantly asked, Now how can I make that work in my country? Or, But how would you suggest we get this started where I come from?

Among the projects or emphases that stimulated the greatest interest were the people-to-people-type evangelistic programs. One such is the "cell group," where a group of from four to six gather for prayer and Bible study. After the group is well on its way, non-Christian visitors are invited. As the attendance stabilizes, one or two of the original members pull away and begin groups of their own. In this way satellite "cell groups" keep developing and then in turn reproduce themselves. Because of varying conditions in some areas of the world, the "cell group" has not only augmented but is necessarily filling the role of public evangelism.

A rather uncomfortable paper was presented on the subject of the relation between the Christian church and the youth of Asia, by Mr. Chua Wee Hian, of Hong Kong. Meaningful, however, are some of the suggestions he had to offer:

1. The church should create situations and atmosphere where it can have creative dialog with the youth, churches, and unchurched of the community.

2. Challenge Christian young people to total dedication, not just a "sign-your-name-here-please" kind of Christianity.

3. Encourage Christian young people to give some time each week in tutoring slower students (this kind of help is given more here than in other places).

4. Encourage and train gifted young writers.

5. Urge all Christian institutions to give priority to soul winning as a full-time concern, not just occasional weeks of spiritual emphasis.

6. Evangelistic camps. These are youth camps held successfully in several places in Asia where the only requirement for attendance is that you be a non-Christian.

7. A creative plan for young adults. Vocational counseling. Nursery provision at church services. Counseling and discussion groups conducted by those who are sensitive to the local cultural atmosphere.

A Modern Touch

It is essential that the church keep pace with the electronic age in which it exists. With this in mind Project East was introduced. This is an anachronism, standing for Electronic Answering Search Technology, and represents the concern of those in the scholarly world who see the faith of today's youth being eroded by non-Christian answers to academic questions. Project East has begun to contact conservative scholars around the world so that the logical evidences of the Christian faith might be prepared for storage in the memory files of a giant computer for instant retrieval.

Typewriter consoles with TV screen above them will soon be in seminary and college libraries around the world. By 1972 more than a hundred such terminals will be in operation. Students will be able to request information on virtually any area relating to the Christian faith, and after relevant abstracts on the specific subject desired have been researched, the actual pages will be displayed on the screen. "Optimistically," says Walter R. Martin, director of the project, "given transistorized weaponry, the church may yet win its age-old battle against skepticism, agnosticism, and atheism."

Also coming into increasing prominence as an evangelistic tool is the motion picture. During the Seattle World's Fair in 1962, nearly half a million of the 10 million people visiting the fair watched one of the Moody "Sermons From Science" films. Of those, some 22,000 stayed after the film to talk to a spiritual counselor. There have been about 1,950 premiers of the Billy Graham film, The Restless Ones, during which 293,000 have come forward to record some kind of decision. While admittedly many of these who view the films are already Christians, it is also true that some are not, and many are reached in this way who would never attend a public evangelistic service.

Just now some of the evangelism emphasis films are beginning to find their way into the countries of Asia with translated sound tracks dubbed in in the local language. This poses a problem in production, and in some cases dilutes the impact. Yet, even with these disadvantages, the film ministry in Asia is doing a work that cannot be done in any other way.

Peculiar Problems

Of special interest to Seventh-day Adventists as we face the end of time is the interest of the congress in union. Or perhaps "unity" would be a better word. Admittedly there is much inefficiency in the Christian church's evangelism because of its duplication. In one Encounter Group after another the subject of shelving diferences and uniting in a common evangelistic outreach was the theme of discussion; but the end of the discussion was always the same, "To whose church would the converts be won?" The desire and the incentive for unity are present, but as yet there are unresolvable differences that perpetuate Protestantism's divisions.

No man returned to his home unchanged by the congress. Having studied and prayed with others whose burden is the same as yours; having brought to mind the sacrifices of those who have paid the supreme price in their desire to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ; having listened to the tear-choked voice of a man pleading with God for power to bring Asia to the foot of the cross, a man can never be the same again.

And perhaps Asia will never be the same again. Perhaps the prayer of one delegate may yet be answered that the time may not be far away when Asia seeks Christ.


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
-Secretory, Ministerial Association, Southeast Asia Union at the time this article was written

March 1969

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Adventists and Birth Control

IF BIRTH CONTROL per se is a moral problem, Satan, at this point, must be about as exuberant as he was when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. What would the world, especially the Christian world, talk about if we solved the birth control problem? Protestants may sneer at Rome's dilemma, but most recently over thrown, seldom enforced, United States State laws against birth control are traceable to Protestant legislation. . .

Ellen G. White and Marriage Relations

ELLEN G. WHITE entered upon her prophetic ministry at a very difficult period in a number of ways. There were several individuals leading small religious groups in New England and the central West in the 1830's and the 1840's who laid claim to being blessed with divine revelations of one sort or another. . .

Applied Religion at Columbia Union College

APPLIED religion introduces the theology major of Columbia Union College to certain basic principles in ministerial practicum that we believe will provide fundamental preparation for the further training he will receive at the Theological Seminary at Andrews University. . .

Interpreting the Bible

THE layman was reading with "proper" flourish and comment the promise of Isaiah 58, made to those who deal their "bread to the hungry" and to others who "bring the poor that are cast out" to their homes. There was in the chapter a very real pledge of future understanding and personal well-being projected on behalf of the one who would exercise charity toward his neighbor, and here it was beautifully laid out: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily.". . .

Satan's Easy Chair

TIME is the lifeblood of humanity. It is given to all men equally. "But time and chance happeneth to them all" (Eccl. 9: 11). Job sensed the elusiveness of time when he declared, "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle" (Job 7:6). The man in the know knows there is no tomorrow! Today alone is ours. Somebody has said that time is God's partner to remind us constantly of our limitations the greatest of which is death!

Research on a Petrified Forest (Concluded)

HOW can stumps floating upright in water and being left in the mud in. that position be explained? Yet, this is a requirement if the growth in the place of these stumps is questioned. Would hollow stumps that have their centers of gravity in the base of the trunk adjust to a horizontal position as their tissues become saturated with water?

God's Part in Evangelism

WE ARE living in an age when man's concept of evangelism includes modern methods, evangelistic equipment, and bigger budgets. Many of us have used everything from pictures to prizes, and black light to bumper stickers. . .

Identify Your Church

IN A WORLD of activity, change, and movement, particularly in the commercial world, much emphasis is put on advertising, and specifically on identifying a product or a place. This sort of thing is deemed most necessary by those who produce and distribute a commodity. It is also considered essential by those who desire a location or a facility to be identified. For example, as one drives across the country he finds that there is no mistaking a Holiday Inn for any other lodging place. . .

Church Identification Program in the Southern Union

JANUARY 1 to April 30, 1965, was the first union-wide organized drive to promote the erection of roadside and church grounds identification signs in the Southern Union. . .

Philosophy of Inspiration in the Writings of Ellen G. White (Part 3)

IN ALL the processes of God's kingdom force is never employed. The will is free to accept the divine mandate. In inspiration there is no compulsion to form this union of the divine and human. The inspired writers were still free to express themselves in their own vocabulary and idiom. . .

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - SermonView - WideSkyscraper (160x600)