Despite the hard realities and desperate needs of the mission fields,
we are increasingly seeing the amateurisation of missions.
More and more Christians are pouring into the mission fields
- but for very short periods of time and for very superficial goals.
I have been astounded to come across large tour groups
(calling themselves "missionaries") travelling across the world just to
spend four or five days "in the field!“ The high costs of international
air travel would seem to make such short visits cost-ineffective.
Even more incredible is how most of these short termers have
undergone no selection procedure, received no training and are
ill-equipped to benefit the local believers.
In most cases these religious tourists have a lower grasp of
Scripture and a spiritual maturity that is dwarfed by the local
believers to whom they presume to come to minister.
Most people understand that doctors and engineers, in fact every other
profession, need proper training to be able to do their work.
Yet for some obscure reason many Christians
seem to think that any churchgoer
can be a missionary!
The flood of untrained, ill disciplined and
unaccountable lone ranger supposed "missionaries"
into Third World countries is disastrous.
Many do not even know enough of the local culture, to realise
how much damage they are doing to the Christian cause.
Cross Cultural Challenges
I have seen many female missionaries in trousers, or even shorts,
ministering in rural Africa. They seem oblivious to the fact that
all the local Christian women only wear dresses.
Nor could they possibly realise how offensive their dress (or lack of it)
is to their hosts. Once a team of 6 American medical missionaries
flew out to work with us in Mozambique.
As they arrived in Malawi, the women were detained by Police
for wearing trousers! They did not even have a single skirt
between them in their luggage.
We had to
town to buy
for the ladies
African cultures value politeness and hospitality highly.
So unless you probe and ask lots of penetrating questions
you will never know that you have offended your hosts.
They will continue to smile and be friendly even as
the door slams firmly shut to further ministry.
For example, in Africa, it is generally considered a disgrace for a man
to have long hair.
This is not only cultural, but Biblical:
"Does not even nature itself teach you that
if a man has long hair, it is a dishonour to him."
1 Corinthians 11:14.
Yet you will see many long haired and pony-tailed men heading out
"to evangelise the pagans in Africa"
oblivious to what a "stumbling block" they are.
The present fad of body piercing seems to have invaded the church
as well. I have met Christians heading out to the mission field
with nose rings, belly rings, tongue studs
and who-knows-what other body mutilations.
It is not that these piercings are unknown in Africa or Asia. In fact every
pagan culture practises it. The Hindus and animists in particular practise
body piercings and tattoos extensively. However, once converted, they
repent and turn away from such abominations.
Tattoos and Body Piercing
It is generally quite easy to tell the difference between a Christian
and a pagan in Africa: by how they dress and by how they treat
(or mistreat) their body.
The Scriptures are clear: "You shall not make
any cuttings in your flesh… nor tattoo any
marks on you: I am the Lord" Leviticus 19:28.
Earrings on men in the
Bible were a mark of
(Exodus 21:6; Deut 15:17).
Cutting of ones own flesh
was seen as an act of
worship to demon idols by
(1 Kings 18:28).
For a Christian who recognises that his body is a temple of the Holy
Spirit (1 Corinthian 3:16-17) to defile himself with the pagan practise of
body piercing is not only tragic but blatant rebellion against God.
How then can you expect African Christians to respect
long haired men with pony tails and earrings - who
presumed to come and teach them?
Often the Message we bring is undermined by our appearance
One "mission team" that
came to assist some good
friends of ours started arguing
with the established
missionaries over divisive
doctrines, then they asserted
"a woman’s right" to have an
Finally, they complained about being given physical work.
"We came here to minister" protested the pony-tailed team leader.
"Physical work is part of our ministry," answered the Mission leader.
Before the whole congregation the young team leader stood up on
Sunday morning and protested the way his team of volunteers had been
forced to help with the building extension of the mission station.
"We came here to preach the Gospel, not to lay bricks.
Look at my hands," he pleaded. "My hands are like that of a little girl.
God did not make my hands to handle bricks!"
The incredible thing is that every year thousands
of such undisciplined and unteachable, selfish individuals
jet into mission fields around the world… to help!
I first came across the term religious tourists in Romania.
A pastor was relating to me the bizarre story of 89 Californian
Christians who had flown in to "minister" in Romania!
Naturally, none of
Neither did they have
They were totally
dependent upon their
whom they presumed
they were coming
On Sunday morning they all wanted to speak at the main service.
Each was given two minutes to bring greetings!
So began a seemingly
of 89 religious tourists
delivering their greetings
through an interpreter
- with successive camera
These visitors never seemed to consider just how much their large
tour group had imposed upon their Romanian hosts for transport,
accommodation, food and interpreters.
"We never saw these people in the dark days of persecution." declared
one pastor. "They are not missionaries – they are religious tourists!"
Relief Aid Visits
There have been groups of up to 29 Americans and Europeans flying in,
on a single aircraft, to one location in Sudan.
When I asked how long they were going in for they proudly announced
"two or three days - maybe even four!".
I could only stand in amazement at their superficial understanding of
what is needed in Missions. "What do you plan to accomplish?" I asked.
"Oh!" the man answered,
"We plan to hand over some relief aid and buy some slaves!"
"We plan to hand over some relief aid and buy some slaves!"
So is this now what missions
are coming to:
large groups of people
flying half way across the
world to hand over
some relief aid,
say a few nice words
and set some slaves free!
In just a few days they fly back home
thinking that they are now missionaries!
They have no real grasp of the people to whom they are going,
they have no understanding of the religious worldview of the people
they are evangelising and they have never bothered to study
the history of the nation they say they are sent to.
Untrained, unprepared, unaccountable, and even unaware
of the way the local people perceive them.
Do they know what the correct price and exchange rates are?
Once they set the slaves free how can they be sure
that they will not be re-enslaved again?
Without knowing the local language or staying there long enough to
know what is really going on, how can they be sure that
those people sitting under the tree really are slaves?
Would they even know if
they were being deceived
in an elaborate plot to
Those who only fly in for the day
cannot be certain of the answers to any of these questions.
The mission fields are too complex for amateurs.
Of course a mission worker's training
should not stop when they reach the
field - in fact it must never stop. It
takes an average of 2 years or more
for a trainee field worker in
to qualify as a Field Worker.
This training will include many courses such as: the Great Commission
Course, Discipleship Training Course, Biblical Worldview Seminar,
Muslim Evangelism Workshop, Evangelism Explosion III,
First Aid courses, and participation in many outreaches
including street evangelism, Muslim evangelism
and Bible smuggling into restricted access countries.
There are required reading lists, written assignments and practical tests.
All of these are important components of a comprehensive programme
to prepare effective missionaries for ministry in war torn,
Muslim or Communist countries.
Frontline's selection and training procedure is fairly unique in its blend
of intensive Biblical instruction and practical outreach
within an apprenticeship programme.
Those who are easily upset by irritations, loss of sleep or unfair
treatment and those who are moody and easily discouraged and
depressed are not suitable for Missions.
Missionaries must be emotionally stable, and self-disciplined.
In the Mission field, relationship difficulties are often aggravated by
high levels of stress, heat and cross-cultural frustration.
The closeness of living, travelling and working conditions
Intensifies interpersonal conflicts.
Missionaries tend to be strong-willed people, so potential clashes can
undermine the mission team and projects.
Interdependent Team Players
There are two major problems here: dependant people who need
constant support and direction and sap the energy from a team;
and independent people who divert the team's energy
as they pull one way and another to pursue their own agendas.
Missionaries need to be
relinquishing their own
interests for the good
of the team:
Physical Health and Fitness
The harsh terrains, hot climates and primitive conditions of most
Mission fields require healthy and fit missionaries who can endure and
be effective in adverse conditions, who can cope with
and recover from debilitating sicknesses.
It is amazing how many people volunteer for Missions
who have never done any ministry at home!
It is essential for all Missionaries to have extensive ministry experience
at the home front before venturing into cross-cultural missions
overseas. If it does not work at home - do not export it.
Obstacles abound. Frustrations, disappointments
and discouragements are occupational hazards
and part of our job description.
Missionaries need endurance - a willingness and capacity to
suffer hardships, discomfort, opposition and worse.
Sacrificial service is more eloquent than many sermons.
pioneered missionary work in
Frontline Fellowship smuggled over 500,000 Bibles
and Christian books in 26 languages into Sudan,
and has trained many thousands of pastors, teachers,
chaplains and medics in restricted access areas.
The Great Commission Course has been designed by
Frontline Fellowship as a uniquely practical missionary
The first part of the GCC is held at a campsite in a forest,
on a mountain, by a lake in a nature reserve.
for all those who desire to be more innovative and effective
in cross-cultural Evangelism and Discipleship.
If you want to see behind the scenes, what is actually involved in
cross-cultural missionary work, particularly in areas where Christians
are persecuted for their Faith, then the GCC is for you.
The Great Commission Course in (1 – 20 January 2016) begins with the
Great Commission Camp (1 - 6 January 2016).
It will then be followed up by an intensive training course with daily
outreaches and practicals, hands-on ministry in townships, prisons, etc.
Do You Want to Change
If so, then join us for the inspiring and life-changing
Great Commission Course.
The Great Commission Camp will provide an ideal introduction to the
course with the theme of Reclaiming Africa for Christ.
Some years ago,
George and Alec
investigation as to
what makes some
Using the polling techniques that have made them
famous, the brothers researched and wrote a book titled,
"The Great American Success Story". One of their
conclusions: Successful people read.
George Gallup found that reading was essential because
it "makes a person ready to converse…these
people have a broad knowledge…and more information
with which to make evaluations and decisions."
Reading is to the
exercise is to the
Books are minds
alive on the
By taking up one
of these books,
and opening it,
we can hear the
voices of people
far away in time
By reading we can
hear great people of
long ago speaking
mind to mind,
heart to heart.
If it was announced that Martin Luther,
was speaking at a particular church,
If it was announced that
John Calvin was speaking at a particular church,
If it was announced that Charles Spurgeon
was speaking at a particular church,
If it was announced
a particular church,
Christians from all over the world would show up.
we open up
a book by
we can hear
and learn from them
in a greater way
than you could
if you just heard them
at a single meeting.
A man is known by the company he keeps. It is
also true that a person's character is to a large
extent developed by the books he reads.
A man is known by the company his mind
keeps. A book is good company.
"The reading of
all good books
with the finest
men of past
"In books lies
of the whole
"The man who
does not read
over the man
Abraham Lincoln commented:
"The things I want to know are in books; my
best friend is the man who will get me a
book I have not read."
Walt Disney said: "There is more treasure in books than
in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island…and best of all
you can enjoy these riches every day of your life."
"In a very real sense, people who have read good
literature have lived more than people who
cannot, or will not, read
…it is not true we have only one life to live; if we
can read, we can live as many more lives and as
many kinds of lives as we wish." S.I. Hayakawa
"If we encounter a man of rare intellect we
should ask him what books he reads."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Charles Spurgeon counselled his students: "Master those books
you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they
saturate you. Read and re-read them…digest them…
A student will find that his mental constitution is more
affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by
20 books he has merely skimmed."
Daniel Webster recommended that it is better to master a
few books than to read indiscriminately. It was his
contention that to master a few great writers is
preferable to skimming a multitude of lesser works.
C.S. Lewis recommended:
"If one must read only the new or only the old, I
would advise them to read the old.
It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never
to allow one self another new one until you have
read an old one in between."
books are to
in an age
when we are
No man's life is long enough to read even those which
are good and great and famous.
Why then should
one waste ones time
with lesser works
when some of the
Francis Bacon wrote:
"Some books are to be tasted,
others to be swallowed,
and some few to be chewed and digested."
first, or you
"Many times the reading of a book has made the future
of a man.“ Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Employ your time in improving yourself by
other men's writings so that you shall come easily
by what others have laboured hard for." Socrates.
"Next to the Holy Scriptures, the greatest aide to the life
of faith may be Christian biographies." A.W. Tozer.
"The reading of
of a Christian's
It provides him
for use in his
He learns to assess the true worth of character, to
glimpse a work goal for his own life,
to decide how best
to attain it,
what self denial
and all the time he learns how God breaks into the
dedicated life to bring about His own purposes."
Ransome W. Cooper