Teresa Neumann (July 12, 2010)
"To the doctor, it seemed that there was as great a need to heal the minds of these people from their fears and taboos as there was to heal their bodies. He saw many a poor frightened creature, so dominated in a belief in some taboo that he died of nothing more than a physical and mental shock, because the taboo was broken. Before having been allowed to come to Africa, Dr. Schweitzer had had to agree to practice medicine only, and do no preaching, but he found that the men who had come to Africa to bring Christianity to the people could not let themselves be held back—it was a wonderful experience to be able to bring a religion of love to people who had known only a religion of fear and cruelty." -Excerpted from "All Men are Brothers" a Portrait of Albert Schweitzer by Charlie May Simon.
A short treatise on the pendulum swing of missionary motives in the Church—between simply meeting people's needs and preaching the Gospel—has been published in, of all places, the Wall Street Journal.
Author Brad A.Greenburg begins by comparing the 1910 master plan from the World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in which they called for "every ear" to hear the Good News of salvation, to the recent centenary conference in Edinburgh that was attended by far fewer people than 100 years ago and called for global missions "to witness and evangelism in such a way that we are a living demonstration of the love, righteousness and justice that God intends for the whole world."
Greenberg believes the term "missions" itself now carries with it a negative connotation, even in politically and theologically conservative circles. Christians today, he says, typically travel abroad to serve others, but not necessarily to spread the Gospel.
Indicating that's a mistake, Greenberg says: "Christian missionaries need to balance both actions and words. The overwhelming majority of American missionaries today are "vacationaries." Joining mission trips of two weeks or less, they serve in locales where Christianity already predominates. The purpose, then, of their visit is to battle the ills of poverty and to stretch their own spirituality."
He also quotes David A. Livermore, executive director of the Global Learning Center at Cornerstone University, as saying. "In a postmodern context it goes against the grain to go in and do hard-core proselytizing. To millenials, it really feels like al Qaeda in Christian wineskins." That in itself, is not a bad thing, adds Livermore, "because it's caused us to see it's not enough to say 'Jesus loves you,' and then jump on a plane and go home."
But, Greenberg then goes on to list facts showing the results of people getting saved through missions which focus solely on good works and concludes that "the reality is the Church should be doing both: serving the needy and spreading the Gospel. This is what makes the humanitarian work of Christians different than that of the American Red Cross."
Source: Brad A. Greenberg - The Wall Street Journal