By Matthew Kuruvilla
When we think about the Great Commission and missions in the Far East two great names come to our mind, William Cary and Mother Teresa. Both of them spent their life in Calcutta India. William Carey (17 August 1761–9 June 1834) was a British-India Christian Missionary, a Particular Baptist minister, translator, social reformer and a cultural anthropologist.
Mother Teresa, known in the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta (born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu; Albanian. 26 August 1910–5 September 1997), was an Albanian-Indian Catholic nun and missionary.
I have been asked by many people, what is a Christian missionary and a Christian mission? A Christian missionary is commissioned by the Lord to make disciples of Christ. Jesus commands all Christians to share the Gospel, which is the message of His death and resurrection that paid the penalty and conquered the power of sin. A Christian mission is an organized effort to fulfill the Great Commission.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
A Christian mission should function on the platform of evangelism. An evangelism platform must be Culturally Appropriate, Biblically Faithful, Theologically Sound, and Morally Ethical.
William Carey translated the complete Bible into 6 Indian languages, and portions into 29 others, yet he never attended the equivalent of high school or college. His work was so impressive, that in 1807, Brown University conferred a Doctor of Divinity degree on him posthumously. Also, he translated the Hindu Epic Poem 'Ramayana' into English. He and his family lived in India, died in India and were buried in India. Mother Teresa, too, is famous, because she was a person who was faithful to her profession of faith in Christ. In other words, she was a faithful and dedicated Christian. She spent her whole life among the poorest of the poor in Calcutta India. She worked with lepers, outcasts and the homeless. She was a walking Bible and a walking testimony. She lived among them, died among them and also was buried among them.
As well, I would love to introduce one more person to you through this blog. His name is Sadhu Sundar Singh. He was born into a Sikh family in the village of Rampur Kataania, Punjab, India on September 3rd 1889.
In his teenage life Sundar felt that his religious pursuits in Sikhism, and the questioning of Christian and Hindu priests, had left him without ultimate meaning. Sundar resolved to commit suicide by jumping in front of a train. He asked that whosoever is the 'True God' would please come before him, otherwise he would commit suicide. In that very night he had a vision of Christ Jesus who introduced the truth to Sundar. Sundar told his father, Sher Singh, that he was experiencing a transformation in his soul, and from this point on he committed his life to Christ and to His missionary work. His father denounced him at that point.
Many people said, "He not only looks like Jesus, he talks like Jesus must have talked." He was a walking Bible. His speeches were informed by his habitual early morning meditation on the Bible. In 1918 he made a long tour of the Southern part of India, Sri Lanka, and the following year he was invited to Burma, Malaya, China and Japan to preach the Gospel.
Some of the incidents from these tours were very miraculous, especially his Tibetan tour. He claimed power over wild animals and King Cobras. He had power over disease and illness, though he never allowed his healing gifts to be publicized.
However, the government of India which was British, and the Church of England, did not recognized his salvation experience and his ministry work because he looked different, dressed different, and talked different. This put Indian Christianity at least one hundred years behind. Still it is an epidemic in many parts of the world.
He continued his Culturally Appropriate, Biblically Faithful, Theologically Sound and Morley Ethical work of Savior Christ Jesus. Before he died Buckingham Palace invited him for a special tea with her royal highness. Following his example, let us together come to Know the God of Abraham and Make Him known to rest of the world.
The month of October finds many WMF members in fields of service around the world. Present difficulties with individual health issues or the effects of inclement weather have not discouraged God’s people from attending to Kingdom matters. The desire to fulfill the great commission is an unquenchable passion for those who have had their sins washed away in the blood of Jesus. In this season when so many of our ministers are building schools and medical facilities, teaching ministers abroad, feeding orphans, holding open-air crusades, digging wells and providing financial support to overseas nationals, oh what a joy it is to know that we are doing the works of Jesus amid all these things.
On one occasion, Jesus sent his workers into towns and villages two-by-two. People were set free from demon power, others were healed. All were edified. The two-by-two arrangement affords mutual reinforcement for Jesus’ witnesses. God certainly gives boldness; but it is also a blessing to have another person with you to give you confidence and to witness the signs and wonders that will attend the proclamation of the Gospel. Now is not the time to close your mouth, but to speak loudly. Paul and Silas prayed and praised in prison. All the prisoners were freed by their audacious act. Despite prisoner belief in Roman gods and cults, the two Apostles made God’s name great in the earth where they were dwelling: a prison.
The Lord expects no less from us who are free. Somebody’s deliverance is dependent upon what you will do. So pray and praise Him in good times and in bad ones, but always evangelize, whether it is achieved in prayer, sermon or in song!
II Timothy 3:16-17 characterizes God’s word as a set of inspired texts and documents. The importance of this verse needs to be underscored. Coupled with Jesus’ Great Commission, it is understandable why multitudes have taken upon themselves the tedious but time-consuming task of learning languages that are not native to them. Not a few persons have died in pursuit of the goal of translating and teaching Bible texts to small and large groups of people. Island after island had seen visitors reach their shore in order to announce the Gospel. Some of them were killed quickly; others did not set foot in their homelands again. The countless testimonies of these daring acts are startling.
When Jesus said Go, his main concern was the evangelism of all the various ethnic groups around the world. The knowledge of God’s plan of salvation must overspread the earth. As this occurs, then shall the end come (Mat. 24:14). The account of the history of redemption is given often in short messages preached in the Acts of the Apostles. These folk preached passionately about the death of Jesus and of his resurrection. Even then the recipients needed much more than a sermon to continue their Christian growth. So the apostles wrote letters and inscribed words of exhortations for the believers they led to the Lord. For generations Holy men and women of the Lord were moved by God to speak. For generations their historical and prophetic statements were preserved for future believers. The canon of scripture reveals and safeguards God’s eternal mind, his will, his mighty works and his wisdom. So we should do our best to spread the word about his power, and to support those who smuggle Bibles into closed countries.
Knowing beforehand that His words would be recorded and read, Jesus empowered his followers with the Holy Ghost to persist in their missionary witness despite the hardships incurred. They hazarded their lives to go to people who spoke different idioms (Acts 14:11). What the locals heard from these strangers changed them forever: the miracles they saw were real: a crippled man leaped and walk as he heard the story of Jesus. Surely something of Jesus’ remarkable power was told to them. The faith the apostles had in the indwelling Christ was authentic: it was founded on the word that dwelt richly in their heart in all wisdom. Had they not known the texts of Genesis-Malachi and more, there would have been no way to tell of all the passages that Christ’s life, death and resurrection fulfilled.
Peter’s sermons are proof of this point. Paul also was able to communicate these truths in more than one language (cf. Acts 21:37-40; 22:1ff.). The Roman captain of the guard was startled that Paul knew his dialect; but when you learn someone’s language you are able to touch his or heart. Holy Scripture in the mother tongue of any host-country national can say in far better ways what any non-native speakers may attempt to utter. I have seen this first-hand. Over a decade ago I was in Canada, and I watched the mouths of some Chaldean folks drop to the floor as I began to share the story (in Syriac) of Nicodemus meeting Jesus. None of them ever had met a black guy who knew Syriac. All my conversations with them were easier after than brief devotional. Again, years ago in South America I sat in a meeting where some Bible translators were celebrating the publication of the New Testament in an Amerindian language it had taken the translators 14 years to learn BEFORE they could initiate the translation process. My heart broke as I listened to the hardships they endured. They bore it all patiently for the Gospel’s sake.
Let’s hope that in WMF missions that we, too, can remember those who translate texts in far away districts and who transport scripture to regions where hardships and privations are great. Here at the office, aiding those who do such exploits is of importance and should not be ignored. So please make every effort to facilitate our activities in WMF missions even as we strive to strengthen the hands of those who have made their calling and election sure (II Pet. 1:10).
Brother Darrell Sutton