While more than 14,000 Christian students gathered at Urbana, Illinois, at the turn of the year to discuss foreign missionary work (see January 18 issue, page 41), nearly 800 students and graduates from twenty-four nations assembled in Baguio City in the mountains north of Manila to do the same thing.
“Missions are no longer the monopoly of Western Christians. Asians have not sold their birthright,” declared Harvey T. Co Chien, general secretary of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the Philippines (IVCFP), to the delegates, three-fourths of them Filipinos.
The Urbana-style event—the first Asian Student Missionary Convention—was sponsored by the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students and IVCFP. It was called to challenge and recruit Asian students to become missionaries, especially to other Asians. By the end of the convention some 250 said they were willing to go—as full-time career missionaries—or at least to pray seriously about it. Volunteers were referred to sending agencies.
In addition to plenary sessions, there were thirty-six seminars that focused on individual Asian nations and how to reach them. They were led mostly by Asian graduates. Daily Bible-study sessions dealt with the biblical basis of missions, and the spiritual needs of Asian countries were prime topics at nightly prayer meetings.
Co Chien in his keynote address blamed Western missionary paternalism, colonial identity, and misconceptions for the scarcity of Asian missionaries. (He roughly estimated that only 1,125 Asian missionaries have been sent to work among the more than two billion Asians, a ratio of 1 to 1.9 million.) The church in the Third World is now acutely embarrassed by any past associations with ...1
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