Yoga Missionaries

“There will be no TV evangelism, no mass meetings in football stadiums,” but there is a growing missionary spirit in Hinduism, writes the editor of Hinduism Today. Reverend Palaniswami, a Hindu monk living in Hawaii, says that if by missionary one means “attitudes and strategies of aggressive world proselytism,” then the popular belief that Hinduism is unconcerned with missionary enterprise is correct. “On the other hand, if … we mean an eagerness to share our beloved faith with those who want to know of it,” the stereotype is “dead wrong.”

In an editorial entitled “An Open Letter to Evangelicals,” which was also published in the missionary newsletter Pulse, Palaniswami writes that “the West is clearly open to the Hindu message” and points to several reasons. “There has been an unprecedented influx of talent and money from the West in the past 30 years,” giving groups such as the Hare Krishna, the Radhasoami, and the Sai Baba movements the ability to reach out through grassroots efforts.

Yoga, meditation, mysticism, and inner healing “were too sophisticated for public consumption 30 years ago, but today they’re the hottest item on the shelf. Not a small part of this phenomenon is related, indirectly, to the coming of the New Age movement,” Palaniswami says. Noting that nearly one-sixth of the world’s population is Hindu (other sources say about 13 percent), he says, “a small army of yoga missionaries” is ready to go to the West. “They may not call themselves Hindu, but Hindus know where yoga came from and where it goes.”

Bishop Blasts Missions

A high-ranking bishop of China’s government-registered Protestant church, the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), has criticized virtually all forms of international mission efforts to China, as well as Chinese Christians who remain outside the TSPM. Bishop Shen Yifan, thought by many to be the man most likely to succeed the current head of the TSPM and the China Christian Council, Bishop K. H. Ting, delivered his attack in a speech given to a TSPM conference in Shanghai. The text of the speech was recently published.

According to a report from News Network International, Shen said that “international anti-China forces are using Christianity to undertake every kind of subversive activity.” He included overseas Christian organizations involved in “tentmaking” programs, such as teaching and social work, cultural-exchange programs, and Christian broadcasting and literature ministries that have not come under the direction of the TSPM.

“They vainly want to split our church … and foment enmity against the People’s government and the Chinese Communist party,” Shen said. “We must be on the alert and resolutely unmask them and prevent them.”

Anthony Lambert, veteran China observer for Overseas Missionary Fellowship, says Shen’s speech was surprisingly harsh, coming from a Christian leader, and indicates the TSPM is now following a hardline communist course.

More Languages Complete

Books of the Bible have been printed in 1,646 languages and dialects, and complete Bibles have been published in 318 as of the end of 1990, according to a report released by the United Bible Societies (UBS). More than 80 percent of the world’s population now have access to the Bible or a Scripture portion.

Since 1989, Bibles in four languages and New Testaments in fifteen languages were completed, including three that are the first recorded Scripture translations. But while emphasis is often placed on additional languages, John Erikson, general secretary-elect of the UBS, says “one should not overlook the even larger number of languages in which significant revisions of earlier translations have taken place, or in which additional portions of the Bible have been made available.”

The UBS report includes translation work published by many different agencies and points out that not all translations are currently available.

Briefly Noted

Under construction: The first Protestant church building in Islamabad, Pakistan. The project faced five years of confrontation between local Muslim leaders and government officials, including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Saint Thomas Church, a parish of the Church of Pakistan, will be the second Christian church in the capital city. A Roman Catholic church was completed in 1979.

Back in prison: This time, as a visitor, Dave McBride, an Operation Mobilization missionary to Nepal. He was allowed into Phidim prison, where he had been jailed for 68 days in 1989, on charges of illegal evangelism (CT, April 7, 1989, p. 47). Reforms in the Hindu nation opened the door for his two-day visit, during which he passed out literature and Bibles to prisoners as well as to one guard.

Re-established: The Salvation Army in the Soviet Union. The Army, which was active in Estonia and Latvia before World War II but was banned after the Soviets annexed the Baltics in 1940, opened a branch in Latvia and hopes soon to begin social work in Moscow and Leningrad.

Named: David Beckmann, 43, as president of Bread for the World. Beckmann, an economist and ordained pastor, succeeds Arthur Simon, who founded the antihunger organization in 1974.

David Hope, as bishop of London, considered the third most-important post in the Church of England. Hope, 50, has expressed reservations about whether the church should ordain women and has made guardedly conservative comments on the issue of homosexual clergy.

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