Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I LOVE CRAZY MISSIONARIES....

We are fools for Christ's sake ....(1 Corinthians 4:10)

I love folks who are so consumed by the love of Christ that their pride and self-consciousness is buried and buried deep.

Earlier I wrote about that "crazy Christian" Robert Park who barged into North Korea with the stated intention of taking the Gospel to the leadership there. He's back in the U.S. and silent....I have no idea what happened to him or what his heart is.....but his actions were crazy! In the eyes of the world "crazy" that is.....

David Brainerd was crazy like that. He devoted the last 4 years of his short life to preaching the Gospel to Native Americans in New England, living among them and suffering with them. This was a guy who could have had a cushy life, going to Yale (from which he was expelled) and living in "civilized" America, but he chose to act like a crazy man.

Next century we find a guy like C. T. Studd.....heir to a fortune, sports hero of the British Empire.....gave it all up and spent the rest of his life on the mission fields in China, India and Africa, eventually dying in the Congo. They all told him he was crazy! I suspect he told them a thing or two since he was notable for very "plain talk" (a man after my own heart....lol)

E. P. Scott was a missionary to India. Despite warnings to avoid the area, he was traveling inland to evangelize a warrior tribe when he found himself surrounded by spear-toting, aggressive men. He figured he was a goner, armed only with his violin......he closed his eyes, tucked the fiddle under his chin and began to play and sing "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" Those warriors were captivated....rather than kill him, they took him to their village where he lived and preached to them for a couple years, seeing souls saved. The man was "crazy"!

We have some crazy missionaries on the fields today, too. Sadly, not enough of them. I am blessed to know one personally who is really "crazy"--he is in the Middle East, preaching the Gospel of Christ in the streets of places where Christianity is "outlawed"--Christians are under death threats and certainly subject to physical abuse, imprisonment and other persecution. He is undeterred, by the grace of God.

Too often missionary work is presented as a "tour of duty" like doing 3 years in the Army or something. Some churches promote these so-called "mission trips" which are nothing more than exotic vacations for folks who want to say they were on a mission field. They'd be better off taking the two or three or five thousand dollars they spend on these shallow endeavors and supporting a real missionary. I know indigenous pastors in Cuba who could live for a year or two on the amount of money some fat-cat American Christian spends on his glorified, "sanctified" mission trip to Costa Rica.

Real missionaries go where God sends them and they stay there til God calls them out (or Home). They do not go to take American culture to the "natives"--they go to carry the Gospel to the lost. They live with the "natives"--they live like the natives. It's incredible to see that there are still so-called missionaries in primitive cultures who insist upon having western-style housing, conveniences, and benefits, living far above the people to whom they supposedly care so much for.

In my wildest dreams, to show how "crazy" I am, too, there should be a way for missionaries on my field to "go native" There should be a way for prison missionaries to go into prisons and stay.....live as an inmate, live in a cell like any other inmate, eat with them, work with them, be one of them. He should stay there til his work is done. He should be subject to all the restrictions, rules and regulations, deprivations and degradations as his people. I speak from experience when I say it's easy to go into a prison and preach to men about the great blessings of Christ when I know in an hour I can just walk out the gate and return to the comforts of my home, family, plentiful, tasty food, and the freedom to do what I want.

Can you imagine how few candidates the NAMB would have for such a field? Naturally, this is for single men. No married man could abandon his family for this field where it would be impossible for them to accompany him. It costs about $30,000. annually for a state to maintain a prisoner. So, the NAMB could offer to pay the state that cost each year its missionary was in the prison. Of course, there would be a million waivers of liability involved should the missionary be hurt or killed or suffer from the lame medical care which most inmates get. But the IMB sends dozens of missionaries into dangerous places every year without a second thought.....why not into the danger zones of the U.S.?

I know there are a lot of practical complications of monumental proportions in this "modest proposal".....probably never happen, but it should happen--somehow. What passes for "prison ministry" is in many ways lame: give it a lick and a promise, make the gesture. We are weakened by chaplains who are drawing a check, mere bureaucrats with no heart for the inmates; we are weakened by Big Show performances by traveling circuses who think mission work is putting on an afternoon's entertainment for the inmates--a motorcycle jump and a couple songs.....we are weakened because the lack of sincerity on the part of some is discerned by the inmates who are then suspicious of all ministries.

How few Christians are willing to even look foolish for Christ! We have our pride--indeed we do. Just the idea of being rebuffed in efforts to make a Gospel witness at work or at the grocery store is intimidating most people into silence. How few there are who will really risk anything, let alone everything--or more than "risk" it, to forsake it! How we struggle to dilute this passage of scripture in order to continue in our self-justified inaction--

And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
(Luke 9:23-24)

5 comments:

Jameson said...

Since this is all under the topic of being foolish for Christ...why not just get arrested? Then there's no waivers and no outside organization or motivation.

Ed Franklin said...

Sounds good at first....I thought that, too....but it would involve breaking the law, which of course we are commanded not to do.

Edwin said...

Ed, some of your comments would lead one to believe that your view is that missions are "best left to the professionals". Am I reading this wrong or is that, indeed, what you mean?

Ed Franklin said...

"leave it to the pros" huh?

That could be what I mean, I guess. Depends upon what one means by "professional missionary" of course.

What I am objecting to is the casual, entertainment-type "mission trip" so popular in our circles (SBC) these days. I know you have some experience in short-term missions and report that they are (or can be) useful. I don't doubt that there are exceptions to the general state of affairs which I see as a waste of resources and sometimes more a distraction and/or hindrance to the missionary on the field.

Let me set up a hypothetical with purely "guess-timation" numbers. A team of six holiday missionaries goes from Tennessee to Costa Rica for a week-long endeavor in aid of a mission work already in place, perhaps shall we say to work on a new building. Figure the transportation costs, lodging, meals, including the de rigueur "day off" trip to the beach or mountains or whatever. Also, factor in the loss of production from the regular jobs of these "missionaries" plus all the "planning" and meetings by the sending church, plus this that and the other which I have not listed. All things considered, the price tag for such a trip could easily be $30-50,000.

Here's the question: How does this "value received" compare to what the resident missionary might have been able to get done with local labor, etc, had the sending church mailed him a check for $50,000. rather than sending those tourists down there for a week?

I have seen some of these missions where the "project" was holding a VBS! Good grief!....are resident missionaries unable to hold a VBS using their own congregation members? Do they need "experts" from Civilization to spend a fortune traveling down there to show them how?

"Professional missionaries".......implies "amateur missionaries"........I'm not sure either category is legitimate.

Edwin said...

I agree with your premise as described. I think a better model would be for churches to go where there is no coverage. For instance our church has been going to Plzen, Czech Repulic for 3 years. The first two of those years there was no missionary on the ground. We made contacts, got into schools to teach English, etc. Once the missionary got there, two years later, he was miles ahead. His first home church meeting, two months after his arrival, had a turn out of 12 people. These 12 were converts/contacts we had made in our two years of visiting. We go back in July and the city of Plzen is paying our lodging bill because the guy that handles the money for the city is one of these contacts.
The job is not getting done globally and it won't unless we reformulate our process. Churches have to get involved some way other than wrting a check and thinking "okay, I did my part".