Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Partisan Arrogance on the Mission Field

One more concern voiced by Latin American missionary "Antonio Peralta" at COMIBAM 2006 in Granada has to do with what he calls "partisan arrogance" on the mission field:

The last concern I want to mention is once again one that I believe can be perceived more easily from the Muslim field, where the followers of Jesus, inasmuch as we know, are more or less one out of every 50,000 people. Before the reality of so many unreached people groups, it is sad to hear of missionary projects that, in the end, are only efforts so that, in places that already have several evangelical churches, there may be one more of our denomination.

The desire to plant our flag, whether as a church, denomination, or mission agency, many times has much more to do with fleshly pride than with the Spirit of Christ. Neither our denominations nor our mission agency will go to heaven, only people redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. In the country in which I serve, the leaders of the approximately thirty small secret national churches (one for every million inhabitants) have decided that they do not want to use, nor for anyone from the outside to impose on them, denominational labels. They are simply members of Kenisat Nur ("The Light" Church), or Kenisa Kalimat Al Hayiat ("Word of Life" Church) in such and such a city. I believe that, as foreign workers, we ought to respect this desire. Will we be able to do it? Or will our partisan arrogance eventually betray us?

Among the missionary agencies, at times, something similar happens: we end up having to "reinvent the wheel", creating a whole other supervision and support structure, just because the agency that already has teams working in that place is not ours. And in the end, who will get credit for the results? Partisan or denominational (or ethnic or classist or nationalist) arrogance, just like any other idolatry, brings along with it a grave danger, since we are dealing with a jealous God, who resists the proud, and will not give His glory to another (Exodus 34.14, 1 Peter 5.5, Isaiah 42.8). On the mission field, we need humble workers, who fear God and respect their brothers and sisters, with a big heart and an open mind, desirous to serve Jesus together with all those who call on the Lord with a clean heart.

7 comments:

Les Puryear said...

David,

Thanks for another good post.

You quoted the speaker as saying "The desire to plant our flag, whether as a church, denomination, or mission agency, many times has much more to do with fleshly pride than with the Spirit of Christ.

Not being a M, I cannot begin to understand the pressures on the field. Do you think this "desire" is one of the individual M or is it being promoted from Richmond?

Regards,

Les

David Rogers said...

Les,

Thanks for the comment. I do not see this word, either from myself, or from Antonio Peralta, as being directed specifically towards Southern Baptists or IMB anymore than towards any other denomination or mission agency. At the same time, I do not believe either we are immune to "partisan arrogance." My point is just to point out this danger. At the same time, I would say that this attitude may be present in some in SBC churches, who have not spent a long time on the mission field, and, as a result, at times be reflected in the SBC at large, including even some IMB trustees, staff, or field missionaries, myself included. As a result, we all need to examine our hearts from time to time.

blampp@juno.com said...

David,
Some similar sentiments were expressed at the Florida Baptist Convention in Ft. Myers last week! If we are to experience real revival, repentence and soul searching submission seem a good starting point! Timely, suggestions..... thanks.... bml

Strider said...

In my context in Middle Earth in the Muslim world I do not know the denominations of many of the M's we work with. It is not important. We pray together and the majority here seek to see a local church established that reflects the local cultural setting. Most of my national coworkers do not know what my 'denomination' is. That is not because it is a secret just that it never comes up.
But my question is this, after all the discussion of Baptist or 'baptistic' are you supposed to be bringing up this question in front of our constituency? You know they read your blog back home, right?

David Rogers said...

Strider,

After thinking and praying about it, I may use discretion in what I say due to security concerns, or when necessary, in order to show love or respect, or submit to someone's authority.

However, I do not think I ought to hide my convictions out of fear of retribution.

Strider said...

David, I was trying, unsuccessfully to be funny. You can only take me seriously when I am talking about Jesus. I love the way you represent the work back to the West. Keep up the good work.

David Rogers said...

Strider,

I'm going to have to find a way to add in the cool 'emoticons' like Wes Kenney does on his blog. I don't know if Blogger has a feature like that, though. Imagine you were completely serious, and I blew you off. :^)