Monday, December 22

Peru Mission Trip

In just over a week, Karen and I will be joining a team of missionaries high in the Andes for a Bible conference and a time of encouragement and equipping. We will be in Cuzco, a city in the rugged Incan region of southeastern Peru. It is a particularly poor part of a country wracked in recent years by political unrest, economic instability, and cultural devolution. Sometimes threatened by the Communist-trained Shining Path terrorists, but more often threatened by the numbing realities of poverty, isolation, and ill-health, the region all around Cuzco is a "field white unto harvest." Pray for us as we seek to build up, strengthen, and bolster the wonderful team of Mission to the World workers in that amazing corner of the globe. Pray too for the Quechua-speaking believers there, that the nascent church-planting movement emerging in their midst may be used of God to usher in a whole new epoch of grace--and that a redolence of both justice and mercy would result.

As with the trip to Iraq earlier this fall, we plan on posting regular blog updates as we have opportunity.

Cutting Across the Grain

When Hugh Goldie (1806-1881) joined a mission station in Old Calabar on the West Coast of Africa early in the nineteenth century, he was horrified by many of the things he found there. The living conditions of the people were utterly deplorable. Their nutrition was abominable. Their hygiene was disgraceful. Their social and commercial arrangements were in utter disarray.

The zealous Scots Presbyterian was a disciple of Thomas Chalmers. So it was rather expected that he would be determined to bring the blessings of modern medicine, nutrition, and hydration to the people he had quickly came to love. He had plans to launch industrial initiatives, educational institutions, and social projects. But before he could address such material needs, there was a yet greater spiritual need that demanded his attentions first.

As difficult as their social and cultural circumstances had made their lives, it was their cavalier attitude to the sanctity of human life that most enthralled and enslaved them. Although they had recently abandoned the centuries-old practice of human sacrifice, they still freely practiced abortion, abandonment, and infanticide. Goldie was met with stiff opposition by the tribal chiefs--and even by many of his fellow missionaries who felt that his pro-life convictions would compromise their evangelistic efforts--he stood firmly on what he believed was the essential integrity of the whole counsel of God.

He faithfully taught the people and served all those in need. He worked hard to ensure that every man, woman, and child had access to adequate health care so that there would be no excuse for the taking of innocent lives. He laid foundations for development so that new enterprises and industries could emerge. But first and foremost, he followed up his forthright preaching of the Word of God by establishing a pattern of care and concern for the least desirable people in the community--rather than focusing his attentions on the most prestigious. As a result, he built his mission on ideas that flew in the face of the current cultural norms--thus modeling a consistent ethic of the sanctity of all human life.

He said that his task was "most assuredly not be relevant to the culture at hand, but rather to cut across the grain of it, to contradict it, to bring the cross to bear on it." Hardly the sort of tactic we might recommend to missionaries today!

Nevertheless, God blessed Goldie's efforts. Conversions came in waves. The church was solidly built. And finally, as a result of his life-long crusade for life, tribal decrees in 1851 banned the terrible customs. The culture was transformed and Goldie eventually went on to his eternal reward having "run the race, fought the fight, and held the course" (2 Timothy 4:7).

No comments: