This report is compiled from dispatches by William T. Bray of the Christian Information Service in Thailand, and the Rev. G. Edward Roffe, pioneer Alliance missionary in Laos for forty years.
When future historians record the end of the West’s great missionary movements, they will doubtless stress the developing countries’ nationalism and the casting off of colonial chains. Less noticed may be major international meetings like the Berlin and Singapore evangelism congresses, which help make missionary withdrawal possible.
Another key meeting was held recently in Bangkok, Thailand, the fifth in a series of Asian conferences of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. The CMA’s Asian flock has tripled to 150,000 members since the first conference, in 1955.
That first conference heralded the start of the painful, long-overdue “indigenous policy” later adopted by the CMA. Indian pastor R. P. Chavan, who started the indigenous ball rolling, went home from that meeting and within a year had cut all financial ties between the Marathi churches and the mission in India. Without such independence today, church outreach would be in deep trouble, since non-Indians are under increasing pressure.
So the Alliance conferences have come to be synonymous with sweeping reforms and a loosening of foreign missionaries’ grip on the national churches.
Chavan was back in 1969, playing a key role in the most promising development at Bangkok: an interfield national mission board for Asia. The new agency will send out Asian missionaries, with Asian funds, selected by Asians, under Asian standards. Already CMA national churches have sent out some twenty-nine missionaries.
Cambodia—now virtually closed to Western missionaries—is likely to be the first target ...1
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