The Missionary Movement

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Yet the past tense and elegiac tones are distinctly out of place in this account. There are more missionaries than ever before in the field - something like thirty-five thousand Protestants from America in 1975, making about 60 per cent of the whole, a far larger percentage than in the nineteenth century. Nowadays many of them come as undenominational free enterprisers from fundamentalist “faith” missions. To them, fraternal workers are namby-pamby liberals who have lost taste for snatching souls from the jaws of hell. Meanwhile, many “mainline” missionaries try to carry on a balanced program directed to souls and bodies. On the mission soil itself, nativeborn movements spring up with such frequency that some prophets picture Africa becoming the center of a future Christendom. They could be wrong. There are still African rulers who would deny their dream and still pay missionaries the painful compliment of persecuting, banishing, or killing them.

An old phrase about Richelieu seems appropriate for a balance sheet on the missionary: He did too much good to deserve reproach; he did too much harm to deserve praise. But the missionary seldom looked for praise. He or she worked with serene confidence that the command of Jesus in Matthew was sealed with its accompanying promise:… and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age .