Passing the Baton
As the year 2000 closed, the Christian mission community lost a number of servants who have served admirably in the cause, bringing the Gospel to the unreached. We highlight four key laborers hereand recognize that they likely are symbolic of a number of others who have finished well.
Peter Deyneka was the founder and president of Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries. Previously, he served as founder and president of the Slavic Gospel Association.
Deyneka returned from Russia to the U.S. in June last year due to ill health. He was diagnosed with lymphoma type B. Unresponsive to treatment, he moved from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to his home in Wheaton, Illinois, where he died on December 23.
Deyneka's commitment to the church in Russia was both broad and deep: He was active in church planting, Christian broadcasting and literature development. Working with the existing protestant church, he strategized, served as a consultant and advocated theological education by extension. "The Deyneka family had a greater impact on the church in Russia than any family I know of," says Stan Williamson, Regional Director of the U.S. Center for World Mission.
Bill Waldrop's avenue for entry in the Christian service was the military. A West Point Graduate ('52) and Air Force veteran with over 200 missions in Vietnam, Waldrop was active with Officers' Christian Fellowship until his death in Colorado Springs on
December 11, 2000.
After graduating from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary ('75) he then served as pastor of Grace Evangelical Church in Atanta. In 1985, Waldrop transitioned to ACMC (Advancing Churches in Mission Commitment). He became president of ACMC in 1988, serving until 1996 when he became the International Facilitator of Worldwide Outreach of Mission America. Both at ACMC and Mission America, Waldrop served to advance the cause of reaching unreached peoples.
A linguist and a statesman, Kenneth Lee Pike, President Emeritus of SIL International, died in Dallas on December 31. Active with SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) since 1937, he initially served in Mexico working on the Mixtec language. In 1942 he became president of SIL, a role he would hold until 1979.
A major emphasis of Pike's work was to help colleagues worldwide overcome their linguistic challenges. His work was notable for both its impact on the Kingdom and its contribution to the advancement of the social sciences. His understanding of etic/emic distinctions, for example, is now common fare in all types of cross-cultural work.
A recipient of numerous honorary degrees, Pike was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and served as President of the Linguistic Society of America.
An Early Departure
The U.S. Center for World Mission has lost a good friend and long-term laborer for the Kingdom. Since 1988, Dave Geisler had been a dedicated volunteer worker at the U.S. Center in Pasadena, giving generously of his time and talents. Friends, family and co-laborers were set back by his early death at the age of 44 on January 28 of cardiomyopathy. The missions community at large will feel his loss as well: Dave was a prolific writer in the Global Prayer Digest and Mission Frontiers (among the numerous other publications he did freelance writing for).
Dave Geisler 1956-2001
Dave grew up in Minneapolisbut he was a Californian at heart. His Minnesota accent weakened over the course of his 13 years at the U.S. Center. "He loved California and always liked to rub it in that it was 80 degrees there and 10 above in Wisconsin," recalls Fred Geisler, Dave's brother. Dave had two goals: one was to live in California, and the other was to write professionally. In pursuit of the latter, he earned a B.A. in Communication with an emphasis in journalism from Metropolitan State University in 1983. Two years later he graduated from Regent University (Virginia) with an M.A. in television and video production, film, and drama.
Never one to worry, Dave was the kind of friend you would want to be with during a crisis. He had the ability to laugh in the face of adversity.
But he took his writing very seriouslyand that was his focus. More specifically, he wanted to use his God–given writing skills to inspire people to be better Christians. He often wrote for New Man, Breakaway! Pro–life America and Focus on the Family's magazines.
With a heart for worship and prayer, he yearned for revival in this nationto see God's Kingdom come. These passions were the driving force behind many of the stories he wrote. He saw young peoplethe next generationas a prime force for changing our world. Accordingly, many of his articles focused on the contemporary Christian musicians who were trying to challenge youth to have a deeper Christian walk.
I often tried to encourage Dave to use some of his other skills to make ends meet. With his beautiful bass voice, he could sing professionally or be a disk jockey. His wit and gregarious personality would have landed him a job as a comedian or an actor. But God called him to write, not entertain.
Now Dave is free for eternity to do what he always encouraged others to do: Celebrate Jesus. We will all miss him.
–by Keith Carey, Global Prayer Digest
Dalai Lama Disappoints India's Christians
The Dalai Lama disappointed India's Christians by standing shoulder to shoulder with Hindu extremists and rebuking Christians and Muslims for trying to convert others to their religions.
"I always believe it's safer and better and reasonable to keep one's own tradition or belief," the Buddhist leader remarked on January 25 while attending the Kumbh Mehla (Great Chalice) Festival in Allahabad. More than 30 million Hindus gathered for the 42-day festival, which ends February 21.
The Dalai Lama shared the platform with a leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, or World Hindu Federation), Mr. Ashok Singhal, who said, "Buddhism, Hinduism and other non-aggressive religions have to unite to douse Islam an aggressive religion."
Said a Delhi-based pastor, "We are disappointed that a man of peace like the Dalai Lama would share the platform with an organization dedicated to persecuting Christians and Muslims, and also call for the right of proselytization to be revoked."
However, the exiled leader of Tibet's Buddhists was careful not to endorse the nationalist policies of the VHP, who teach that India should be for Hindus only, and the statement he signed clearly qualified the call for a ban on conversion. The statement said, "We oppose conversions by any religious tradition using various methods of enticement."
India's 30 million Christians are tired of the constant accusation that they bribe people to convert to Christianity. Joseph D'Souza, president of the All India Christian Council, told Compass News in January, "I have been in Christian missions for 30 years. I lead an organization of about 1,000 Indian nationals. Not once in these years have we made an attempt to forcibly convert anybody to Christianity either by offering jobs, clothes or rice."
The Dalai Lama's statements also seem to contravene human rights declarations, which insist on the basic human freedom to share and change religious faith. Enshrined first in Article 18 of the 1948 U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, this right has been universally touted, but rarely implemented. Few Islamic countries subscribe to it; by contrast, India's Constitution allows for it.
In a separate development, a junior minister in the state of Karnataka resigned on January 31 after suggesting that the earthquake on January 27 was divine retribution against the residents of Gujarat for ill-treating Christians. Gujurat is India's worst state for violence against Christians. Mr. T. John, the civil aviation minister, resigned after Hindu groups demanded his removal from office.
Many Christians in India also interpreted the floods of 1999 in Orissa state as divine retribution for the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines. However, most pastors caution against such sweeping equations of God's judgment with current events.
"It is hazardous to make these claims, especially since Christian suffers alongside Hindu and Muslim in these terrible freaks of nature," said a Bombay pastor.
Caleb Resources Relaunches Traveling Team
After five years, Caleb Resources has revived its Global Impact Team ministry. For almost ten years the Caleb Resources Traveling Teams impacted thousands of students throughout the United States to consider their part in the Great Commission. Greg Fritz, president of Caleb Resources, said, "Traveling teams have been our most effective way to meaningfully connect with students".
This February, a Global Impact Team of five singles began traveling to colleges and churches in the Midwest. Using drama and teaching, they are helping students see God's heart for the nations and challenging them to see their role in world evangelization, especially among unreached peoples. In this way, the Colorado-based agency desires to help raise up a new generation raised up to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have no chance to hear it.
Currently, Caleb Resources is recruiting for two Global Impact Teams for fall 2001. They plan to send an Asian American team and a multi-ethnic team to the West Coast.
Those desiring to be on a traveling team or have a team come to their church or campus group should contact Rebecca Battin at [email protected] or at 303-730-4170.