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Visions Of Hope: Mission

"I was impressed with the work of a missionary society in Nepal. They had been forbidden to proselytize by word of mouth so instead they built a hospital, near Pokhara, in the heart of western Nepal. The quality of their healing work and compassionate care spoke for itself, so something of the Gospel was proclaimed to those who used the hospital. It was well patronized,'' writes William Sykes.


Mission—body sent by religious community to convert heathen; field of missionary activity; missionary post; organization in a district for conversion of the people


There was also an interesting development as regards outreach. The local Nepalese officials would only allow the mission to build a temporary hospital. This consisted of a number of nissen huts. These reflected the light of the sun, so the Gurkhas in the remote hills many miles away, suddenly became aware of a bright light shining in their midst and were curious to know what it was. They soon found out, and came in droves to the hospital with their sick. The 'Shining Hospital', as it came to be called, spoke well of 'Christ, the Light of the World.'

In our own country we tend to think of mission in terms of a massive rally, sometimes conducted in Earl's Court. In college I carry out an ongoing mission using Visions of Love and Visions of Hope in reflection groups. Sometimes the message gets home swiftly, but on the whole it is a slow steady method with long term effects. A number of undergraduates have told me it is their most valuable hour of the week.

Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous works among all the peoples!
1 Chronicles 16:23-24

I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here I am! Send me.'
Isaiah 6:8

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 28:19

Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.'
John 20:21

In the end the only all-conquering argument is the argument of a Christian life.
William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, The Saint Andrew Press, 1987, volume I, page 269

Zeal in proselytizing is often due to an uneasy suspicion that we only half-believe.
Mark Rutherford, More Pages From a Journal, Oxford University Press, 1910, page 244

We cannot make a man a Christian, but we can do everything possible to bring him into Christ's presence.
William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, The Saint Andrew Press, 1987, volume I, page 326

The goal of Mission is nothing less than a New Creation, and the Church's renewal occurs only at the same time and to the same extent as the renewal of the world.
Colin Morris, The Hammer of the Lord, Epworth Press, 1973, page 33

People resist those whose approaches to them are too intense but always tend to be moved by those who respect them; the apologist must respect the integrity of others as much as he respects his own.
R.E.C. Browne, The Ministry of the Word SCM Press, 1958, page 108

This is the true sequence of mission: a surpassing awareness of the reality of Christ, corporately shared, expressing itself in thankfulness and wonder, causing the world to ask questions to which an answer must be given in a form that every hearer can understand.
John V. Taylor, The Go-Between God, SCM Press, 1973, page 112

We cannot cease to be missionary; we have to want the number of Christians to increase, to want their influence, their importance, the concrete realization of a Christian spirit in public affairs and social institutions to grow; we have to try to diminish the contrary of these things.
Karl Rahner, S.J., Mission and Grace, translated by Cecily Hastings, Sheed and Ward, 1963, volume I, page 39

If you knew a place where the world's biggest treasure was buried, if you knew that anyone who knew the way could go and help himself to it, and if you knew that the treasure was life and constant love and joy, could you possibly keep it all a secret?
Michel Quoist, With Open Heart, translated by Colette Copeland, Gill and Macmillan, 1983, page 33

True intercession in the service of the Christian mission is the purest acknowledgement that the mission is God's not ours. For this reason it is far more significant that a church or a particular missionary fellowship should be, and be seen to be, a community to which God is a burning, joyful reality, than that it should bury itself with vigils of intercession and lists of names.
John V. Taylor, The Go-Between God, SCM Press, 1973, page 234

Had he had more of the wisdom of the serpent, he would not have carried them the New Testament as an ending of strife, the words of the Lord as an enlightening law; he would perhaps have known that to try too hard to make people good, is one way to make them worse; that the only way to make them good is to be good— remembering well the beam and the mote; that the time for speaking comes rarely, the time for being never departs.
George Macdonald, Sir Gibbie,}M. Dent & Sons, 1914, page 335

The farther I go the more convinced I am of the futility of religious discussions with unbelievers. The intellectual and historical standpoint to which they confine them¬selves is not sufficient in view of the phenomena of the spiritual life. All that is living and profound and subtle in the soul is unknown to them,—their soul itself is unknown. Let us rather try to arouse in these people a sense of eternal things, showing them the path to God without barriers or obstacles. That will be enough. Then let us ardently pray, and Providence will do the rest.
Elizabeth Leseur, A Wife's Story, Burns & Oates, 1919, page 196

... there are some people who cannot receive Christian truth. It may be that their minds are shut; it may be that their minds are brutalised and covered over with a film of filth; it may be that they have lived a life which has obscured their ability to see the truth; it may be that they are constitutional mockers of all things holy; it may be, as sometimes happens, that we and they have absolutely no common ground on which we can argue. A man can only understand what he is fit to understand. It is not to everyone we can lay bare the secrets of our hearts. There are always those to whom the preaching of Christ will be foolishness, and in whose minds the truth, when expressed in words, will meet an insuperable barrier.
William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, The Saint Andrew Press, 1987, volume I, page 269

The mission of the church... is to live the ordinary life of men in that extraordinary awareness of the other and self-sacrifice for the other which the Spirit gives. Christian activity will be very largely the same as the world's activity—earning a living, bringing up a family, making friends, having fun, celebrating occasions, farming, manufacturing, trading, building cities, healing sickness, alleviating dis¬tress, mourning, studying, exploring, making music, and so on. Christians will try to do these things to the glory of God, which is to say that they will try to perceive what God is up to in each of these manifold activities and will seek to do it with him by bearing responsibility for the selves of other men.
John V. Taylor, The Go-Between God SCM Press, 1973, page 135

The Gospel is true for all, if it is true at all; and, if so, then upon whomever has received it lies the inescapable obligation to impart it to others. And so here alone is the foundation on which to build a world civilisation. There has been much discussion, naturally and rightly in these days, about the new world order that we want to see. On what principle is it going to be built? Are we going to make it by an extraordinary complex calculation of the various desires and passions and aspira¬tions of the different countries of the world? Certainly these are factors in the situation; we must not ignore them; but is that going to be all? What more shifting sand than that could there be on which to build any great structure? If there is ever to be a world civilisation, it must be built upon some truth which affects the bases of human life. If we are truly Christians, we believe that the Gospel is that truth. It is the one possible foundation on which a world civilisation can be reared.
William Temple, Basic Convictions, Hamish Hamilton, 1937, page 82

... a new theology of mission and a new exegesis of the Bible are now emerging through the shared life of growing numbers of small, often poor or persecuted groups of Christians, many of them in the heart of hitherto Islamic, Hindu or Buddhist worlds, in Communist China, Russia and its satellites, in the shanty towns and rural areas of Africa, Asia and South America, or in the inner cities of the West.
The members of these groups are close in spirit to the first Christians. Like them they come out of frameworks of faith and culture which have been shaken apart. They have sensed a new breaking-open of a gulf always latent in human experience: a gulf between heaven and earth, ideal and reality, between a spiritual depth on the one hand and on the other the hard inconsequential surface of mundane life. Faiths and ideologies have sought to span this gulf by varied means by manipulating the world into harmony through ritual cleansing and spirit posses¬sion; by moralizing the world, pressing it into conformity with a divinely revealed law; or by attributing to some members of society a special purity, empowering them to spiritualize the world into some ultimate underlying unity.
But now these people have been attracted by the sense of an actual divine presence in this world, in the figure of a wounded man alongside them, and the release, through him, of a new love, bringing together justice and mercy, ideal and real, heaven and earth. They would claim that the Divine Spirit flows out through the life and above all the death of that wounded man, Jesus the Christ, sent forth from God and in turn sending out others (John 20:21). As they apply his cross, in shared repentance, to their corporate life, they sense the movement of the Spirit empower¬ing and equipping them to be channels in the new Love, integrating divine and human, community and social structure, spiritual and material, with a new redemptive energy.
This also happened in New Testament times.
Simon Barrington-Ward, in John Macquarrie and John Bowden, editors, A New Dictionary of Christian Theology, SCM
Press, 1985, page 372


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