To The Uttermost Ends Of The Earth …

Recently a government official in the nation’s capital was criticized for having taken (at government expense) a costly trip to attend a traffic conference held in Hawaii. (Think about most cities’ traffic planning for a moment, and the logic of choosing Honolulu for the site of a U. S. traffic planners’ convention will immediately strike you.) As the affronted public servant indignantly replied, “There would have been no question about the necessity of attending the conference had it been held in Baltimore.” Probably not.

But it is not only public servants who travel far, wide, and sometimes handsome in their efforts to render ever new and more useful services. Where the state leads, surely the church cannot be far behind. We all know that Jesus said that he came “not to be served, but to serve.” And everyone knows that service is badly needed almost everywhere. As a result, almost every week we can read of prelates, ecclesiasts, and sometimes even just plain, ordinary religious officials who range the globe attending assemblies, conferences, colloquia, strategy meetings, executive committee meetings, and all the various other gatherings that call them away from the humdrum life at the home base. Mindful of the prophetic words of Amos (“They shall wander from sea to sea, from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro.…,” Amos 8:12), myriad religious leaders, from the prestigious World Council of Churches itself but also from lesser international, national, ecumenical, denominational, and miscellaneous agencies of all kinds, roam the world seeking, in a manner reminiscent of Alexander of old, new fields to serve.

Even though the vast majority of the world’s Christians live in ...

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