Whenever an overseas mission field excludes or expels Western missionaries, the haunting question arises: “Is the investment in Christian missions a waste or a witness?” The missionary crisis in China precipitated by the Communist takeover in the 1940s shook the confidence of many American Christians in the “success” of overseas missions. Since 1950, a number of other mission fields—India, Burma, and Sudan, to name only three—have either placed restrictions on Western missionaries or excluded them altogether. Many American churchmen question continuing investment in overseas missions. Are their misgivings justified? Or is there cause for optimism? What should be the guidelines as mission-minded persons chart a course for the final decades of our century?
The good accomplished through past missionary endeavors cannot be erased by present adversity.
Hardship and persecution bring benefits. They weed out the tares, purify the faithful, force the Church to reorganize and to develop creative new ways to fulfill its task. Baptists in Burma, for instance, have had to make adjustments required by a socialist state. The Church is no longer permitted to operate Christian schools and hospitals. However, Christian teachers are continuing to teach with a Christian orientation to life, even though all schools except theological seminaries are now controlled by the government. Christian nurses have formed Nurses’ Christian Fellowships. In several state hospitals they have formed choirs and are giving their witness through music along with their compassionate ministries of healing. The total work of the Church in Burma is now ably carried on by trained national Christian leaders. In evangelism and in training for church-related ministries, ...1
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