A HISTORY OF MISSIONS IN ROMANIA THE FREE AND UNDERGROUND CHURCHES

TRINITY SCHOOL FOR MINISTRY

A HISTORY OF MISSIONS IN ROMANIA THE FREE AND UNDERGROUND CHURCHES

SUBMITTED TO DR. JOHN MACDONALD IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF ME 500: INTRODUCTION TO WORLD MISSION

BY SAMSON COVATCH

MAY 9, 2018

The Christian missionary movement in Romania is both easy and difficult to trace. It is easy in the sense that denominational bickering about what constitutes the true Church, and who is a part of it, has taken a backseat due to the history of the struggle for recognition at any given time. It is difficult to the degree of deciphering what is meant historically by Romania. Is Romania a people group identified by location or language? Perhaps the recognition of the borders of what is now considered Romania should be the measuring rod? All points must be taken equally lest we find ourselves in the precarious situation with those who draw lines around what constitutes an authentic Christian church group. We will look to the general area known today as Romania and how the Christian faith came to be known along with the historical struggles, persecutions, and the need for a continuous missionary work. The people group in the Romanian area had, like many pagan regions, a polytheistic worldview which focused on the worship of natural forces. They had adopted a Greek alphabet and later a Roman alphabet while under the influence of Rome starting in 15 AD. From the earliest times in Christian history, Romania would have believers in and through it due to its location within the Roman empire. Although written records from the first and second centuries are hard to come by, archeological remains for Christian settlements around the black sea demonstrate the presence of Christian communities.

Roman control lasted until 269 when Germanic forces invaded, and by 271 the Goths had settled due to pressure from the Huns. From 271 to 602 no historical records exist for the retention of a Christian community except through archaeological evidence. Georges Castellan writes, The proof lies in the discovery of burial grounds and artifacts dating from 272 to 450 in thirty Transylvanian sites; over 150 coin troves of the same period were also discovered. Finds of objects of early Christian civilization provided the final proof, ‘bearing witness to the spread of the new Christian religion in the Latin language. It entered Dacia from the numerous bishoprics established on the right bank of the Danube, and became officially recognized in the first decades of the 4th century. In the course of the same century and to the north of the river, Ulphilas, a well-known bishop, delivered addresses not only in the Germanic languages, but also in Latin [underlined in the original]. The fact that christianity spread throughout the old Dacian provence proves the survival of a society under Roman influence, since it was able to receive the new religion.’

The history of early Christianity becomes important for Romanians when different types of persecution take place. Whether from outside armies, different Christian groups, or atheist regimes, indigenous missionaries, along with cross-cultural missionaries, would do well to remind those in Romania of their Christian heritage.

After 602 we find another three centuries of silence along with the same type of evidence. By the 9th century, we have a fixed language that was derived from a Daco-Roman-Slav population known as “proto-Romanian” which would later fuse to become known as Romanian. The distinction of language would hold the Romanians together as a group by identity even in times of territorial unrest. The Byzantine empire allowed the uniqueness of the Romanian worship to develop and become ingrained as an identifier to the outside world. As identified with the Eastern Church, and not willing to submit to the bishopric of Rome, the Frankish Empire, instituted with the help of the Latin church, considered them to not be Christians. Castellan records for us an interesting observation from Constantine Daicoviciu’s book History of Romania, “(Ahtum) did not submit to the Christian religion and ceaselessly fought the Hungarians. In reality Ahtum, since he had been baptized at Vadin, belonged to the Eastern church, not to Rome, and was an ally of Byzantium and the Bulgars.” Here we can say that the first western perceived Christian advancement to Romania was an epoch of aggressive missionary tactics.

By the thirteenth century, the missionary advancements from the west follow the historical accounts of medieval political pressures. Attempts are made to exchange protection from advancing Mongol armies for submission to Rome. The Romanians were instrumental as crusaders and for becoming warrior monks in 1211 called “the Teutonic Knights of the Order of the Hospital of St. John.” Even though the Romanian Christians were doing the same work, and believing the same essential doctrines as the Christians in the west, they were still seen as outside the faith. Pope Gregorius IX wrote in a 1234 memorandum, “peoples which, though they regard themselves as Christian, have different rites and customs and non-Christian practices. Indeed, since they despise the Roman Church, they do not receive the Holy Sacraments from our venerable brother...but from some pseudobishops who keep to the Greek rites.”

During the Papal States of Christendom, in the fourteenth century, the Romanians were recognized as part of the Roman Catholic Church, but they would continue to worship with the Greek Orthodox rites. Pope Clement IV was less than thrilled with this arrangement and complained in 1345 “of ‘these schismatics,’ [and] mentioning attempts made by Franciscan missionaries to convert them.” During this time the written form of the Romanian language was being codified if not underutilized. Prior to the sixteenth century, all manuscripts were written in Old Church Slovonic, comprised of many Church Fathers writings and hymns. Missionary work today, for many Protestant and Reformed traditions, spends a great deal of time and energy in the translation of the Bible into the vernacular of those they are trying to reach. If a people group has no language, then one must first be learned, developed, and taught before, what some would consider, meaningful evangelism. If the people group already has a written language, then you only need to translate the Bible idiomatically for the desired conversion results. But, when you have a people group that has not only all of these elements in place but also a language that has developed with both eastern and western language connotations and cultural context, then missions efforts can be increased exponentially. With Romania, you have everything necessary, including an ancient Christian foundation for proselytizing.

Peter Movila founded a Jesuit type college in order to take advantage of the culture by teaching Latin, Polish, and Romanian in 1632. Catechism, written by John Calvin, was published in Romanian at Karlsburgh in 1640 and the first collection of Romanian verse was a translation of the Book of Psalms in 1673. Since Calvinism is very focused on education and discipleship, literature was widely used and developed for the edification of Romanian believers. The graduation of Romanian to a useful written language helped some of the churches further distance themselves from the Roman church and become more identifiable.

The Romanian church was still only tolerated with no legal identity, but it was now in company with denominations that were coming out of the Reformation. Lutheranism (also called Evangelical) was making missionary advances by 1543. The Calvinist version of Protestantism (also called Reformed) made advancements by 1556. In 1564 equal rights were given to these two new faiths, but they were on par with the Orthodox churches and therefore, refused some rights as well. Toleration extended to other belief systems that these new traditions would consider non-Christian, such as the Unitarian (also called Anti-Trinitarian) church in 1571. The Transylvania Uniate church, known as Greek Catholic, formed in 1699 but this Romanized version was not to the liking of the Romanians. The Edict of Tolerance in 1781 gave legal status to the “Eastern Greek Cult” which resulted in showing the element of compulsion with previous conversions as Romanians began worshiping at these churches almost immediately.

The French Revolution, along with Napoleon’s conquests, opened the Romanian lands to new influences. Most Romanian historians set July 1821 as the date for the beginning of the Romanian era. While this may be the date historians look to, the rest of the world saw it differently. Moving into the twentieth century, Romania was still structurally considered an oriental country because one-third of the people live outside the present day border. Hope was shared for a Unified Greater Romania that was realized in 1920 by the majority of world nations. This news to the world was also a call for missions for a new form of Christianity.

In 1922 Gheorghe and Persida Bradin had met Pentecostal Romanian evangelist Pavel Budean while visiting the United States. Persida Bradin had been healed of tuberculosis and dropsy through the working of a miracle. Upon returning to Romania, the couple shared this with others, who they converted, and in 1923 experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. By the end of 1924, the seeds had been planted, and fifty believers formed a group to submit their petition to the government for official recognition of the Pentecostal confession. They were denied recognition, but this should come as no surprise in a socialist political climate sliding into communism. Many Pentecostals were fined, beaten, or imprisoned after 1929 when it was discovered that they obtained recognition through a subterfuge of identity with the Apostolic Church of God. A Romanian census in 1930 revealed the numbers for the legal churches of which Pentecostal is not listed.

Orthodox 73% Catholic 15% Protestant 6% *Other 1% Romanian Independent Church 90% Uniates (Greek Eastern Rite) Lutherans Jews Nominally Orthodox 10% Latins (Roman Catholic) Calvinists Muslims Unitarian

  • subgroup percentages not given

While under persecution, the Pentecostal movement grew large enough to have its first schism.

In 1929, some leaders of the Pentecostal movement in Romania fell under the influence of a Hungarian missionary, Ianos Lerch, who belonged to the organization Misiunea Penticostala pentru Estul Europei (The Pentecostal Mission for Eastern Europe), with their headquarters at Danzig (today’s Gdansk, Poland). In 1930, the superintendent of that mission, Gustav Schmidt (who was also of Hungarian origin, his first name being Augustin Covacs) visited Romania, where he met with Gheorghe Bradin in Timisoara and proposed cooperation, but Bradin refused, for they did not practice foot-washing during the Lord’s Supper, nor did they prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

By 1950 the approximate number of Pentecostals in Romania was under thirty thousand. They had become a large enough group that the Communist authorities recognized them under a single group category, the Federatia Cultelor Evanghelice (Federation of Evangelical Denominations), along with Baptist, Evangelical, and Adventist. The recognition was partly due to the August 4th decree of 1948 that was passed on all religions. Religion was seen by the Communists as a useful tool if controlled. The decree stated the right to observe freely and that all religious institutions were to be subject to the national laws which confiscated large amounts of property, financial assets, and imprisonment for any clergy found with any foreign money contributions. No religious schools were allowed even though many already existed. Only public education was allowed on the basis of an atheistic Marxist-Lenin philosophy. Clergy members were guaranteed a salary for a declaration of loyalty to the State. If the Church were to survive, it would have to go underground.

In his book, Tortured For Christ, Richard Wurmbrand writes, “Beginning August 23, 1944, one million Russian troops entered Romania and, very soon after this, the Communists came to power in our country. Then began a nightmare that made suffering under the Nazis seem easy.” Missionary work is driven by a love for Christ and the desire to see people come to know him regardless of the cost. The underground Church behind the Communist Iron Curtain would show the pure love for Christ at the loss or potential loss of one’s own life if they were lucky. Sadistic tortures were devised by the State religion of atheistic Communism to break the spirits of men, women, and children who would proclaim the name of Christ. “I heard one torturer say, ‘I thank God in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.’ He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflicted on prisoners.” Even preaching to prisoners was strictly forbidden and according to Wurmbrand “we made a deal: we preached and they beat.”

For all Christian traditions in Romania, from 1940 to 1989, missionary work was a deadly concept. You needed to understand what you could do, what you could say, and when you could say it. The State churches were not safe for proclaiming Christ as many of the clergy members were spies for the secret police. Wurmbrand describes the Underground Church as composed of three groups. The first group was made up of former pastors and ministers who were removed from their flocks because they wouldn’t compromise the gospel. The second group was the vast army of dedicated lay people. The third group consisted of “the large body of faithful pastors in the official, but bridled and silenced ‘churches.’” After the collapse of Communism in 1989 conversion rates began falling even though there was an increase by the churches in the area of humanitarian aid. Illegal churches became officially recognized by the new democracy but the numbers did not keep pace. The Romanian Pentecostals had been surveyed in 1992 showing 220,033 registered Pentecostals. By 2011 that number swelled to 362,314. What I find interesting is that during persecution the church grew by 733% in forty-two years, or 17.4% per year. Conversion growth slowed to 60% from 1992 to 2011, or 3% per year. These statistics have not been lost on the Pentecostal church which has created dialog internally to restructure for a concentration in missions. Sadly, this has been tapered.

There are many leaders in the denomination who think that those who are in higher authority positions in the denomination ought to be relieved of their duties/roles as local pastors to be able to devote more time to the actual vision, mission, and ministry of the Pentecostal denomination. There was actually such a proposal presented and discussed (eventually heavily debated) at the last national congress of the denomination in 2014, but it was eventually rejected.

Other traditions have continued mission work on an independent basis also. I interviewed two missionaries, Joy and Tom, from First Presbyterian Church in Beaver, PA who have been working in sector five of Bucharest, Romania for the last sixteen years. They described sector five as one of the poorest sections in the area. They teach what could be considered a vacation bible school once or twice a year for a week to work with the children. They are not with any mission organization and are not affiliated with the church, but with a local Romanian organization called the Philip House Foundation (PHF). They must work without an affiliation due to government regulations or the foundation risks losing government funding.

Tom told me that the mindset of the people in Romania is that of an old Romanian way of thinking and a new way of thinking. Nominal Christianity is to be expected as most people don’t understand the faith because of communist brainwashing, but only a shell of the gospel message reduced to rituals without substance. The lasting effects of communism have been ingrained in the psyche of the Romanian Christian people working there. At times the founder of the PHF, Ovidiu Filipescu, would not allow foreigners into the school rooms fearing they might be spies.

While adults are not their main focus, they end up witnessing to adults on every trip either directly or through an end of the week family picnic. Many men are disconnected from families due to not having male role models or family structures to model because of the destructive communist practices that lasted for two generations. This is problematic in a patriarchal culture where God is understood as Father, but the experience of an earthly father is one who is not there for you. Joy told me that women are not respected as equals with men making her job as a missionary more difficult and at times, dangerous. When I asked them what has not worked well, or what has been a problem, they answered that communication was the biggest issue. Whether is was communication with the mission group, with their hosts, or with the Romanian language. Joy and Tom even confessed that on one of the trips they had communication issues with each other.

The history of missions in Romania is the challenge of reaching people who have such a diverse background that without a good understanding of who they are, where they come from, and where they are going, missionaries can make all of the classic missionary blunders. With over seventy years of Communist oppression still fresh in the minds of the people, any blindness to this fact will be a hindrance. In the twentieth century, 45.4 million Christians were martyred and 36.2 million were in Soviet-controlled communist countries like Romania. Unfortunately, the United States’ romanticising of socialism and communism will take us down the same road if we don’t turn back to God. It would not be hard to imagine millions of Christians being martyred here with how complicit and accepting the Church has become with Statist ideas. Troubling socialist and communist trends from Latin American missionaries and their organizations need to be dealt with and confronted in the same way we would deal with an African slave trader. The positive aspect is that in the persecution to come the church will grow at an exponential rate, but the intellectual dynamic of the Shema will suffer. The Romanian Church is healing along with those who make it up. We should learn from them and remember the words of Richard Wurmbrand, “I have decided to denounce communism, though I love the Communists. I don’t find it right to preach the gospel without denouncing communism.”

Works Cited

Castellan, Georges, A History of the Romanians, translated by Nicholas Bradley, East European Monographs, Boulder, New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.

McGuckin, John Anthony, The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc1184, 1999-2018.

http://necrometrics.com/pre1700b.htm#Martyrs.

Synan, Vinson and Amos Young, Global Renewal Christianity: Spirit-Empowered Movements Past, Present, and Future, Volume 4: Europe and North America, Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2017.

Wurmbrand, Richard, Tortured for Christ, Bartlesville, OK: Living Sacrifice Book Company, 1967.

REVIEW OF SERVING AS SENDERS TODAY BY NEAL PIROLO

TRINITY SCHOOL FOR MINISTRY

REVIEW OF SERVING AS SENDERS TODAY BY NEAL PIROLO

SUBMITTED TO DR. JOHN MACDONALD IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF ME 500: INTRODUCTION TO WORLD MISSION

BY SAMSON COVATCH

APRIL 27, 2018

A missionary is like a quarterback in American football. The position is seen as the central focus for the direction of the team for any given play. The quarterback is never alone but surrounded the entire time with every player as an essential part of the group. Every member working together for the same goal, and if a job is not done, the play will not advance, sometimes with the disastrous results of losing ground that had been gained. The founding director of Emmaus Road International, Neal Pirolo, in his book Serving As Senders Today, demonstrates to the reader the importance of having the right team around any mission work by identifying six critical areas of support and nine stages of the physical/emotional/psychological/spiritual life timeline of a missionary.

The widespread understanding of a missionary is similar to that of anybody in church leadership. You donate money to them, sit back, and wait for the results to come in. Pirolo wakes up the nominal Christian missionary seated in the pew by taking you into the struggles and needs that go far beyond a simple drop in the offering plate. The diversity of what successful missionary work looks like biblically needs to be modeled in every church. “Missions should not just focus on those who go. Those who serve as senders are equally significant.” The Body of Christ does not stand with feet that are inactive. The feet are moving with the aid of the rest of the body that should cause the sending missionaries to take notice of what is around and in front of them to serve those who are being sent.

The moral support of God is to be coveted over man, but this is not to exclude the necessity of the support of the church, only reorient the reason for missions. We can see how worries about public opinion can hurt or even discourage missionaries due to perceived financial strain, competition in ministry assets, contradictory council, or distorted theological views. The tension felt between the missionary, and anyone of any other ministry is because of the deep conviction God has put on the hearts of believers to serve Him in the area they have been called. This idea causes a very warped understanding when we think other ministries should take a backseat to ours. Pirolo says, “Cross-cultural outreach is not the only God-ordained ministry,” but neither is any other ministry. What we should gain from this is a sense of togetherness that can assist one another with the gifts we possess from God.

Moral support is foundational for the mental and emotional health of all who are involved in a mission, and this needs to be overseen by someone who is in charge of the logistics of the mission. Logistic support is best described as an executive who manages the overall vision and group interaction for the missionary. This entails detail-oriented people who will stay in contact with the missionary and the team members to make sure needs are met. This includes the spiritual growth of the missionary before they go, while they are on the field, and when they return. The same should be stressed for the team as a whole. The stress of business affairs at home should not be on the shoulders of the one who has been sent. Logistics support members should handle money processing from donors to the missionary in the field as well as taxes, healthcare, and personal details such as where to be buried in the event of death.

While the logistics member is in charge of the overall needs they are not to be bogged down with the details of each need. The financial support aspect should be delegated to someone who has experience and has felt called to serve in this area. Pirolo identifies three components for financial stewardship in regards to missions. The first is to be wise about giving to make sure money given will be money received. The next is a lifestyle that calls the sender to manage their affairs financially to aid in experiencing a “new sense of belonging and vision of their part in rescuing the perishing.” Finally, managing wealth in the appropriate context both on and off the mission field is essential. On the field having the flexibility to work among the nationals or for them, depending on the type of work to be done. The senders must have the same idea for managing resources directly or indirectly related to the present mission. Plans must be made to increase funding if needed for emergencies at home or abroad.

While the tangible assets of finances can be measured in ways evident to us, prayer support cannot be. This vital part of the mission team needs to be assigned to those who are committed to fasting and prayer for those who are sent. “In no greater arena of human activity is this mysterious union of our prayer and God’s work seen than in the mission of the Church.” Scripture tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Eph 6:12 NET).

Communication support is essential for the entire team. Those sending need to know how things are going and what needs to be done as much as those who have been sent know they are not forgotten. When communication, prayer, and finances are strong, the ministry is also strong. Communication comes in many forms in today’s world. Mail, telephone, and computers are the most common ways of communication across distances. The challenge can become evident if your missionary is in a hostile country or if they are in a place that has data restrictions in regards to internet connectivity. The head of your communication support is the person you should go through to reach the person sent. They must also work with the logistics member to ensure the content of the information sent is appropriate.

The most critical and often overlooked team member is the reentry support team. Pirolo lists nine specific reentry challenges the entire team, including the church pastoral staff, needs to be involved. These nine areas can be summed up with a holistic approach to the way you would receive any foreign missionary. By being sensitive to culture shock, socially awkward scenarios, or linguistic snafus that may cause stress for your missionary, you can watch for potentially harmful patterns. Having a team ready for these families can be a life and death ministry for those returning and for their children who may not be able to articulate what they are feeling. Approaching this part of the mission as a long-term commitment is to understand that direct care started before they left and will last long after they return. The Church should not overlook this crucial time. “You want to provide an environment for your missionary friend to debrief on both levels: What God has done with them and how He has ‘opened the door of faith…’ in whatever ministry he was engaged.”

As someone who has never felt the desire to do cross-cultural mission work any further than giving to a general fund or saying a corporate prayer for missions, Pirolo’s work has pulled the curtain back on missions to a place where I can see the vital role that the Church has as senders. I now have a sense of anticipation and excitement to work with missionaries on a team to reach the lost for Christ. Freedom to use the gifts that God has blessed me with in a way I never thought was possible. I used to think that missions work was simply going somewhere else all on my own and returning. This concept was so unappealing that I never considered serving as a sender. This is one of the few times in my life that I am glad to have been wrong.

REVIEW OF THEORY TO PRACTICE IN VULNERABLE MISSION BY JIM HARRIES

TRINITY SCHOOL FOR MINISTRY

REVIEW OF THEORY TO PRACTICE IN VULNERABLE MISSION BY JIM HARRIES

SUBMITTED TO DR. JOHN MACDONALD IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF ME 500: INTRODUCTION TO WORLD MISSION

BY SAMSON COVATCH

APRIL 13, 2018

You are about to read the greatest book review ever written. One could only question how it would be possible to give a score higher than the potential allotted points for such work? All illustrations, references, and insights are precisely where and what they need to be. Once the reader understands these details, he or she will agree with this conclusion. I only need to write in a culturally appropriate way, using words and ideas to convey the exact message without any misunderstanding or condescension perceived by the reader. Jim Harries would agree with me in his book Theory To Practice In Vulnerable Mission that unless you take the time to understand the culture and language of the people you are trying to reach, you will not be successful in the work ahead of you.

Languages and cultures are not mathematical equivalents. Mathematical truths are only useful for mathematical equations in which there is a conceptual one-to-one correspondence. Ideas and concepts as linguistic transliterations are only quantitatively good within the cultural relevance they are being expressed. Harries makes the point that “there has to be a process of translation to bring the ‘foreign’ into the realm of comprehension of the target hearers or readers of a communication.” The struggle missionaries have today in cross-cultural mission work is that of effective communication. Even if the mission work is being done in an area where the missionary’s language is spoken, it is not in the cultural context of the origins of that language. This means that different concepts can be derived because “words do not, cannot, and never have been able to ‘have meanings’ or to ‘carry meaning.’ Meanings are not in words, but in people.” Just as in the mathematics illustration, “European languages are not appropriate for use in education or for governance outside of European contexts.”

The success of English as an international language poses different problems depending on the culture using the language because the pragmatics of the language would be needed for the intended meaning to be understood. Andrew Thompson, a writer for the online blog Culture Trip, touched on this problem:

In Rwanda, for example, most young children learn in the indigenous language of Kinyarwanda, but by the time students reach upper primary school, it starts to fall away in favor of French and English. According to Development Education Review, many elite private schools and universities in the country fail to teach in Kinyarwanda at all. Although Kinyarwanda is the most widely spoken language in the country, and the introduction of English and French is intended to create a bilingual society, poor teacher training, limited instructional bilingualism, and poor learning materials often leave people ineffectively straddling the two options.

It would seem nearly impossible for someone of a different culture to effectively convey the subtle nuances of the gospel without having an intimate relationship with the hearer’s culture and language. This can be challenging even between native English speakers generationally, but it totes def can be done, and how crazemazing is that!?

As Harries progresses in his book, we find an additional cultural barrier due to the historical relationship between the different people groups in Africa and English speaking cultures. One of those barriers is a prosperous country sending missionaries with a “historical-materialist” way of thinking. The influx of money can do a great amount of damage to an impoverished society if not managed in a culturally sensitive way. Problems such as the attitudes towards the evangelists who are being paid from abroad can be seen as not living with the community and struggling with them, but in their community simply observing the hardships. Any assistance monetarily from the missionary or organization can be seen as a threat to the father. Wealth increases flowing from immigrants will establish dependency within the society that is akin to “colonialism without responsibility.” Sometimes the attitude of Westerners is to first establish wealth building businesses without taking into account the cultural stability of such an endeavor and then giving the gospel, almost as an afterthought. Actual capitalism could work for the physical needs of society, but a capitalist society is to be developed by and for a self-governing people with a Judeo-Christian background. Therefore, it cannot be exported as a commodity to a non-Christian people. Conversion should come first, and then an economic system can be implemented by the indigenous people, not by the missionaries.

Cultural bigotry and insensitivity from missionaries need to be addressed when it comes to the longstanding religions or religious ideas (such as witchcraft) within African societies. These concepts will shape the way spiritual truths are initially understood, and a type of syncretism may emerge if allowed to stand unchecked. An example of this is when asked to describe their understanding of God. The description of YHWH is not articulated, although you would think it to have been as evidenced by non-African missionaries wanting to write on behalf of African theologians for western consumption. “Western authors are inclined to bend over backwards to find ‘positive features’ in African theology.” If you won’t understand a culture well enough to disassemble its preconceived notions of who the God of the Bible is, or what actual benefit is to be drawn from that fact, then you may inadvertently be doing more harm than good.

The West has been importing a brand of Christianity to Africa with a universal commonality, prosperity. This is demonstrated in two ways financially, through a beneficent, or as a means of becoming a beneficent to others. Christianity as interpreted as a means to wealth, prosperity, power, influence, and material security is validated through the actions of missionary workers even if the gospel is being presented verbally. “A message given may not be the same message received.” This concept can cause a “deceptiveness in the use of western languages in Africa” for self-benefit.

Harries puts forth the concept of vulnerable mission that would eliminate much of the misunderstandings about Christianity. It would also be wildly unpopular with missionaries and societies that have developed an economic culture around these type of material missionaries. There are two key aspects of vulnerable mission, “commitment to local languages” and “working without access to outside resources.” A vulnerable missionary in an area supported by a missionary agency would use the resources offered to the community. This would not be appreciated by the missionaries as the vulnerable missionary would be considered “a parasite.”

I can’t help but be struck between the comparisons this book has with the American Christian community outreach efforts to the lost in our backyards as we have churches that will give out money for attendance. Is it any wonder that those we send to other countries think and behave a certain way? I’ve always heard that we are to give our time, talents, and treasure to the Church. When Christ becomes the means to an end, and not the end itself, we need to stop, repent, and align ourselves with God’s mission. Perhaps we need to give more of our time and talents to the Church while holding back some of our treasures. Works Cited

Bowean, Lolly, “Church’s money giveaway: Alsip pastor’s cash prizes fill pews”, Chicago Tribune, 2 November 2009, Online: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-11-02/news/0911010250_1_prizes-pews-giveaway

Harries, Jim, Theory To Practice In Vulnerable Mission, Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, OR, 2012.

Thompson, Andrew, “Why Languages are at the Forefront of Student Activism in Africa”, Culture Trip, 13 March 2018, Online: https://theculturetrip.com/africa/south-africa/articles/why-languages-are-at-the-forefront-of-student-activism-in-africa/

REVIEW OF THE NEW GLOBAL MISSION BY SAMUEL ESCOBAR

REVIEW OF THE NEW GLOBAL MISSION BY SAMUEL ESCOBAR

“Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, ‘What does this babbler wish to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities’ —because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection” (Acts 17:18 ESV). In the book of Acts, Paul is shown to have kept the message of the gospel homogenous while adjusting his delivery to match the culture to which he was speaking. This example has been reversed in the recent century by allowing Western Missionary Ministries to use suffocating measures of power and influence through means of finance and technology among third world cultures. In doing so, the model of missions has been forced through a Western Eurocentric outcome for the measurement of success.

Christian Mission in the Modern World - Book Review

Christian Mission in the Modern World - Book Review

Mrs. Rachel Lynde is an outspoken character from the Anne of Green Gables series who has a knack for saying what the populace is thinking. “I don’t believe any but fools enter the ministry nowadays…he says he doesn’t believe all the heathen will be eternally lost. The idea! If they won’t all the money we’ve been giving to Foreign Missions will be clean wasted, that’s what!” John Stott and Christopher J. H. Wright disagree in Christian Mission in the Modern World that if you give those in mission work a certain amount of money it will yield a predetermined outcome.