News from Agencies Collaborating with the US Center for World Mission
Intellectuals Look to Christianity!
"Will Christianity give society a solid base for the dignity of the individual and for the rule of law?" This is the tone of the questions being asked on Chinese university campuses this fall, according to a report from a former USCWM staff member now in China.
In the recent past, intellectuals in China judged Christianity as narcissistic, other-worldly and hopelessly bound up in the capitalistic economic system. Following the demonstrations for freedom in the summer of 1989, however, these same academics have re-evaluated their views of human nature. The Tiananmen Square massacres convinced many that human nature is entirely capable of the most illogical evil. So a popular question being discussed these days, according to this report, is "What are the implications of the Gospel in politics?"
Many educational leaders including members of the Communist Party appear to be willing to enter into conversations of this sort with Christians.
The staff memberâs prayer requests include:
- Pray for both boldness and discretion on the part of Chinese believers.
- Pray for an actual revival movement among Chinese Christians. The timing seems ripe with spiritual openness among intellectuals as well as among rural peasants.
- Pray for courage among believers since, of course, this very openness prompts the government to oppress the church even more than usual.
- Pray for China! Contact the office of China Ministries International, 1605 Elizabeth St., Pasadena CA 91104 USA to connect with a China-focused "Nehemiah" Prayer Group near you.
DAWN Strategy Plans 1,000,000 New Churches in India by AD2000!
The DAWN (Discipling A Whole Nation) strategy of working toward completion of the Great Commission through saturation church planting is gaining acceptance all over the world.
India, representing 15% of the world's population and 30% of its unreached people groups is an example. Over 1,000 church leaders met in Hyderabad, India at the National Congress on Church Development in August, 1990. The delegates represented 55 denominations and church associations, 47 mission societies and parachurch organizations and seven training institutes.
Led by Dwight Smith, they joined hands and committed themselves to planting a church in each of 600,000 unchurched villages and in 499,000 neighborhoods in cities for a total of one million new churches by AD2000!
Jim Montgomery, founder of DAWN Ministries, said, "The emotional commitment to starting a DAWN-type project for India was as great or greater than any situation I'd been in."
The DAWN offices on-campus at the US Center for World Mission has since learned that a delegate from northeastern India has committed himself to generating the commissioning of enough missionaries from his area to plant 2,000 of those churches.
"We are making history," said Bobby Gupta of the Hindustan Bible Institute. "This will go on until Christ comes. It is not what is behind us that matters!"
November 10th: A Church is Born!
Sometimes God's orchestration of global events and personal incidents are incredible as He pushes us toward the goal of "A Church for Every People by the Year 2000." For example, how did last summer's Navajo Indian Rodeo Ministry trek into Mongolia link with a Washington DC man's testimony in 1987 to a kid who in 1980 in Moscow had been given a Bible from a man from Tanzania and then the tourists from Ohio ö ?
RL with Mongolian Enterprises recently briefed USCWM staff on another encouraging report from Mongolia, long considered to be impenetrable to the Gospel.
November 10th, 1990 was the date the first church was established among the Halh people, the majority people group in Mongolia. As Rick tells it, the story is nearly bizarre.
A young Mongolian boy we'll call Hu, noted for his deft abilities in language-learning in the So-viet-controlled Mongolian Peoples' Republic, was sent to a Moscow university. There in 1980 a native of Tanzania gave him an English Bible. "You can study English with it," the Tanzanian had said.
Hu studied English in the English Bible for seven years. He returned to Mongolia, and because of his fluent Russian and English, became one of the government's most-sought-after tour guides. In 1987 U.S. tourist Doug Coe, instrumental in discipling Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship International, was in one of Hu's groups. Hu was never the same after sensing Coe's spirituality.
During a few seconds on the tour, Hu had a chance to ask Doug, "Do you know God?"
"Yes," Doug nodded.
Three hours later, Hu was able to whisper, "What is His name?"
"Jesus Christ," Doug said. And three days later, he had enough time with Hu to lead him to Christ. "Don't worry," Doug told Hu. "I know it is illegal to be a Christian, and it will be hard for you. But friends will come."
Three years later in the summer of Î90, Hu was assigned another American tour group ö this time an unusual Native American group representing Navajo, Winnebago and several other tribes of Indians. And it wasn't long before Hu realized that the Indians were believers; many of them from tribes which just decades ago were unreached themselves. Hu found instant kinship as he immediately arranged an audience with the president of Mongolia, to whom the group presented a just-translated Mongolian New Testament. Hu lined up a rodeo in which the celebrity Indians compared their trick riding and rodeo skills with the best of the Mongol horsemen before a crowd of government officials and the press. The entire event was televised, including a ceremony in which the Americans sang the Lord's Prayer ö which was interpreted on-camera by Hu ö and signed the meaning of the song in Native American sign language.
After the rodeo, a local shepherd invited the Americans and most of the Mongolian press corps to dine with him. When the shepherd's family snapped the spinal cord on a goat to slaughter it for the feast, the Indians remarked, "Thatâs exactly the way we kill our goats!" As the meal progressed in the shepherd's huge ger, the Mongolians were astounded to find that as they passed slices of liver sandwiched between slabs of fat, the Navajos said, "This is exactly how we eat!"
As Rick tells it, the affinity between the American Indians and Hahl Mongolians was almost eerie. He says, "At the end of the meal the shepherd, who had just lost a son the year before, brought into the ger a tiny new lamb as a gift to us his guests. And I couldn't resist. I stood up, took the lamb in my arms and spoke through Hu to tell the crowd about God, whom they know as the creator-God they call Tinger. God gave up His Son to die as the Lamb who could take away the sins of the world. I and Hu talked to them for about a half an hour. You could have heard a pin drop.
"And after such a well-illustrated sermon," Rick grins, "what could I do but give an invitation! I simply asked if anyone wanted to know more about receiving the forgiveness that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God brings. And before I could tell them what to do, every one of the 25 or so in that ger raised his or her hand. We stood together ö Mongol Halhs, American Navajos and Cocapaws and Anglos. And we prayed."
Rick shakes his head. "In the week that followed, I spent hours and hours day after day in the capital city Ulaan Baatar with Hu. He was feverish to know every- thing I know about the Bible, how it all fits together after having read it in English by himself for about ten years. His thirst for spiritual knowledge was insatiable!
"Once in a while we'd take a break, go into the streets and with other American teams pass out tracts and Scripture portions ö right in the capital of this country that a couple months ago would have jailed you if you tried to talk to anyone about Christ! The police were even helping us figure out how best to do it without causing a riot!"
And the church?
Rick explains, "This bunch of Christians from Ohio with their luggage stuffed with tracts pulls into the train station at Ulaan Baa-tar. Guess who happens to be assigned to be their tour guide? Rightö our man Hu. Among the group are some pastors who meet with Hu and the other new Christians. They pretty thoroughly interview the new Mongolian believers and are amazed at Hu's years of Bible reading and burst of spiritual insights. So they all gather in a hotel room November tenth and, climaxing a combination of events only the God of the universe could concoct, they ordain Hu as elder of the first Mongolian Halh church in the history of the world!"
Buddhist Studies Center Expands
The Institute of Buddhist Studies has recently been renamed The Sonrise Center for Buddhist Studies, according to director Jim Stephens. Jim filed the following profile on this growing research center:
Sonrise Center for Buddhist Studiesâ mission focuses on conducting research to impact the evangelization of the unreached Buddhist world.
Our first objective is to provide accurate information about unreached Buddhist people groups. Second, we provide research and training for mission strategy and evangelism to Buddhists. For example, recently Soviet Christians working to reach the Buddhist Buriat people in Siberia requested additional information about how best to work among Tibetan Buddhists. So we sent off a 300-page report. (Incidentally, there are at least four Buddhist unreached peoples in the Soviet Union: the Buriats, the Kal-myks, Tuvinians and Evenks.)
Our third objective is to promote among the worldwide Church a broader awareness, more prayer and evangelism to Buddhists. "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18a); and we believe it is key for us to share His vision for the fulfillment of the Great Commission which includes Buddhists. We have been asked to operate the Focus Exhibit on the Buddhist World at the Urbana student missionary conference at the end of December this year. We'll be directing any inquirers to mission organizations that are presently working among Buddhists. Also, the upcoming April 1991 Global Prayer Digest will concentrate on prayer for the unreached Buddhist world. (Order the GPD on page 47.)
Our final objective is to network ö or, as we say, make "Kingdom connections." Weâre finding out what, where, whom and when research has been done on Buddhists. And weâre serving as a resource for networking organizations and personnel. We at present have databases covering nearly every Christian college and seminary in the United States noting what courses they offer in Buddhist and Oriental studies. Additionally, there is an extensive database on "Whoâs Who in Mission to the Buddhist World."
Our desire is "that He Himself might come to have first place in everything" (Col. 1:18b) and that our Lord Jesus Christ would be held high as the Hope of the Buddhist World.
Contact Jim at the Sonrise Center for Buddhist Studies, 1605 Elizabeth St., Pasadena CA 91104 USA.