Mission Forum

Home Base for Friends of the Churches of Asia

Mission Forum is a platform for learning and sharing through mutual respect the faith, philosophies and life-situations of the churches and believers of Asian countries. Religion is culture-based. So different cultures and religions are often misunderstood by those of other cultures and religions. Language also enters in and can bring confusion as people from East and West try to find ways to appreciate each other rather than try to make them over in their own image. Since so little is known about Asian Christianity in the Americas it is hoped these notes will be of value in bringing all the Christian believers, East and West, closer in prayer and action.


--- Considering the Christian's motives are pure and correct the method of "doing missions" needs to be given a thorough rethink according to E. Luther Copeland. Dr. Copeland is retired. He was once Professor of Missions and World Religions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Professor of the Department of theology and Chancellor at Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka City, Japan; and a Fulbright scholar in India from 1963-1964. I consider anything said by this man of God regarding Christian missions to be taken very seriously.

Professor Copeland writes in Review and Expositor (Vol. 94, No. 3, Summer 1997, "Christian Theology and World Religions") that humility, the practice of incarnation, dialogue rather than monologue, interreligious cooperation, a spirit of "witness" to the living Christ, and good ethics make for "good missions." With his permission I re-print here a few paragraphs from the above mentioned article regarding missionary ethics:

Missions must be conceived and operated in ways consistent with good Christian ethics and theology. ...Although I believe that there is ample warranty for sending missionaries to "unreached peoples," the term is offensive and raises difficult ethical and theological questions. "Unreached peoples" not only sounds patronizing, but people have a right to know what has not "reached" them. Is it God? revelation? truth? meaning? Most of them believe that they have been reached by the Ultimate, and who can deny that God is present before the missionary arrives?

I am told that those sent to "unreached peoples," particularly to countries where missionaries are not admitted or not welcomed, sometimes misrepresent themselves as specialists who have no relation to mission boards, though in fact they have been sent and are supported by mission boards. This is the kind of dishonesty which cannot be squared with Christian ethics. Similar problems obtain with regard to nonresidential missionaries, missionaries who live outside the country or region to which they are assigned and make periodic visits. They may misrepresent themselves to have access to Christian groups within a given country. Such practices cannot be condoned. To assume that one has to forsake truth to have access to people where missionaries are not admitted is not only shoddy ethics but also poor theology.

The above two paragraphs by E. Luther Copeland echo my feelings and convictions as revealed in my article "Approach That Brings Reproach."

At one of the first public gatherings on such a subject, a "Mission Forum sesson" was held on the campus of Baylor University the evening of January 16, 1996. Some thirty students and six interested faculty and staff viewed the television documentary "CHINA: Walls and Bridges." This joint production of the ABC TV network and the Southern Baptist Radio and TV Commission was awarded an Emmy in 1989 for best daytime documentary. Towery was a consultant on the project that followed the spirit and intent of Towery's book The Churches of China, Taking Root Downward, Bearing Fruit Upward

The China churches documentary was shown on American national television the spring of 1989. Shown in two parts with discussion time is possible for groups and churches interested in drawing closer to their Chinese fellow-believers. Informal such gatherings from time to time will enhance understanding of the Asian Christian's world -- How they are facing the real world of injustice, poverty, corruption in high places and in many cases the trauma of just getting through another day alive.

China churches do not need the agendas of many Christian groups in America. They do not need nor appreciate the constant barrage of Bible smuggling into their land. China Protestants have published over ten million Bibles the past decade and the numbers increase with every month. China doesn't need the 19th century Western missionary approach that is still so evident in the West. They must grow their churches as Chinese churches, not Western copies. China needs praying, caring friends like Kim Dickey and Charlie Wilson and a host of others we have met along the way. China and the world cries out for SERVANT-MISSIONARIES, not SUPERINTENDENT-MISSIONARIES -- people willing to plant their lives with others for no other reason but that they may be made whole -- spiritually and physically, regardless of class, creed, color or race. (Updated: May 28, 2003)

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