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The Character of a Missionary (Part 4)

by Aramus Crane

Abstract: The following are some of the character traits that God give those He calls to be a missionary in the world. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit indwelling missionaries gives them the ability to delegate and develop an exit strategy from their work in society.
Contents



Prerequisite #7:   The Ability to Delegate and Exit

"And let them judge the people at all times; every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves; so it will be easier for you , and they will bear the burden with you."---God to Moses (Exodus 18:22)

Working in French Indo-China, Alexander de Rhodes discovered that indigenous lay evangelists were most effective in reaching their peers.  This philosophy became the basis for the Foreign Mission Society of Paris.  R. Pierce Beaver tells us how other Roman Catholic missionaries, Ricci, Schall and Verbiest, followed a similar idea in China.
 
"They went much farther and gradually introduced Christian principles and doctrine through the use of Confucian concepts.  They permitted converts to engage in ancestral and state rites, regarding these as social and civil rather than religious in character.  The missionaries gained tremendous influence as mathematicians, astronomers, cartographers, and masters of various sciences, thus introducing Western learning to the Chinese, making friendships with influential persons, and finding opportunities personally to present the faith.  They served the emperor in many capacities....  Success crowned the strategy, and a large Christian community developed, including influential persons in high places.
 
"Other missionaries, however, were unable to appreciate anything that was not European and were absolutely wedded to traditional Roman Catholic terminology and practices.  Motivated by nationalistic and party jealousies, they attacked the Jesuits and laid charges against them in Rome."  ("The History of Mission Strategy"  Perspectives:  A Reader. op cit,  p. 241)
 
Lack of missionary humility may cause the missionary to go as far as to work against the Holy Spirit. Bishop J.W. Pickett in his study, Christian Mass Movements in India wrote that when God started massive indigenous movements in India, it is usually the church leaders and mission that resist them. In fact, there are often times when a missionary needs the discernment to get out of the way of the movement of the Holy Spirit in the society he has come to save.  DA McGavran warns that foreigners bring sterility and antagonism when they try to jump in front of the moving of the Holy Spirit among a people. It is a temptation for them to do what they can to claim credit for the conversions that accompany that working.   It is no wonder why God predicted that if Moses didn't do as He commanded, there would be no peace. (v. 23) Many Christian leaders don't have the humility to let the Holy Spirit move as He may, but try to direct Him themselves. They seem to think they know better or are better qualified than He is.  This is blasphemy.
 
"They might be helpful as advisers or assistants but should never be necessary to the completeness of the Church or to its power of unlimited expansion."  (McGavran DA.  "The Bridges of God"  Perspectives:  A Reader. op cit, p. 336.)  

Conclusion

Jesus Christ has the key to eternal life and to the solutions for the basic social problems of man and his society.  We are given the charge of bringing the gospel of love and reconciliation to the world.  William Carey said of this goal, "Were the children of light but as wise in their generation as the children of this world they would stretch every nerve to gain so glorious a prize." (op cit. emphasis his)  If sending agencies are not as wise as the personnel departments of this world, we do a disservice to this cause.  Capable professionals remain insufficiently funded while they and their local colaborers are hampered by unqualified help that people state-side send to them.  Some may say, "God will get the job done, regardless" but why would a person with such an attitude be involved in sending any missionaries?  No, the fact that God gave us mental capacities demonstrates that He desires that we use every nerve in our brains to gain the glorious prize.  No missionary is perfect in these areas, author included.  But, let us ensure that we field missionaries with a minimum level of the following qualities.









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