In these times of struggle in hostile environment, native evangelists are in great danger. As the anniversary of the riots in India approach, the native churches are on guard and protected by the might of the government. Native preachers in Iran, Somalia and Nigeria are beaten, tortured and even killed for their Faith in Christ. Yet it is because of their great success in converting their own people to Christ that has caused this upheaval. Many missionaries have been sent to these countries over the last two hundred years, yet it has been in the last forty years that the Way of Christ has been growing, not with Western Missionaries but with home grown ones.
And know they are becoming victims of thier success. Each week I post of the persecutions of these brave and vibrant souls. And I follow their journeys in bring the Sacred Word of God to people who know nothing of the Love and Mercy of the True God. But why have they been able to bring so many to Christ when the Western Missionaries have failed? There are many reasons but I think the main ones are: 1) They are not strangers with strange ways. When Paul spoke to the Jews; he was a Jew, to the Greeks; he was Greek and in Rome, he was a Roman. The Western Missionaries came with their western ways and never came to understand the people they preached to. 2) They impose Dogma rather that Scripture. The trueness of the Word was lost because they sought to make the people of the land just as they were, locked into denominational conflicts rather than just teaching the Word as it was written. And, 3) They felt that they knew the Lord better than the people they preached to could know Him. They did not trust the native peoples to grasp the “complexities of Faith.”
Much has changed in the last thirty years and as Nations prohibit the import of Foreign Missionaries, the Native spiritual leaders have taken up the Cross and are spreading the Word more effectively than ever before. And they are doing it the right way. They are walking among the people, living with them and sharing the Word without fanfare. They are building schools, opening their homes and tending to the sick and the poor. Established missions now work with each other rather than with contention. In many areas, they share resources and help train new workers regardless of denomiation. The Native Missionary is supported by many churches.
It calls to mind the instructions of Paul to the people of Corinth, “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich!” (1 Cor 4:8) The richness he speaks of is not gold or fame but the richness of God’s Love and Mercy. he goes on to say that “To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We become, and still, like the scum of the world, the refuge of all things.” (1 Cor 4:8-13). So much like Paul and those who went with him, these local native missionaries live in squalor and in many cases sleep in ditches along the road. Or they live in the poorest sections of villages and are surrounded by those who live to hate. Yet in these torrid conditions, they spread the word, bring friends and relatives to Christ. Most have only a limited education yet they study the Word of God daily. They live and share what they know and they pray and pray and pray.
The Psalm of David speaks of them, the native missionary, when he writes; “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. the Law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death. The LORD will not abandon him to His Power or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.” (Psalm 37:30-33) Yet in this world of unrighteousness these brave souls are not given justice, they are not victorious in their trials. And still they persist in spreading the Good News. And still new churches spring forth, in homes, shops and in the street. In India, Malaysia, Iran and Somalia. No longer do the people fear death but they embrace the Life without death, Life Eternal in Christ.
Because the native missionary is the heart of the land, God has guaranteed that. “His divine Power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own Glory and excellence.” (1 John 1:3) As Christ became poor for the sake of all mankind, that they may know Him, these native missionaries remain poor for the sake of those who are nothing. As the word of God spreads across the world in places it has never been before, more and more demand is made upon the few that do the real work of spreading the Gospel. Thousands more are needed and there are so few to teach them.
What must happen is the hearts of the denominational churches must reach out to aid these valiant workers of faith and provide them with the tools to spread the Word.
And we must pray for them each day, every night and every morning because they are succeeding where we have failed in our vain attempts. They teach from the word with all their hearts and with complete confidence in the power of God to protect them from harm. In the Spirit of the Wholeness of Christ, reach out and support these gifted and grace-filled workers of the Cross!