Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Category: 700 years of evangelism (Page 1 of 2)

February 12, 2017 — Israel in the 2000’s

Han dynasty Granary west of Dunhuang on the Silk Road.

Today’s Bible reading

And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. — Philemon 6

More thoughts for meditation

We are on a spiritual pilgrimage with daring Jesus-followers who were convicted to act on today’s reading.

In 2003 Back To Jerusalem: Called to Complete the Great Commission was published. Three anonymous Chinese Church leaders with Paul Hattaway revealed the ambitious Chinese and Korean missionary movement that was underway.

“Back to Jerusalem” was an idea initially conceived during the 1920s by the Jesus Family church in Shandong province. While the vision eventually lost vigor in the Jesus Family, the Northwest Spiritual Movement that split from the Jesus Family revived it. Simon Zhao became the principal leader of this movement in the 1940s. In 1946, another group in Henan province, the “Back to Jerusalem Evangelistic Band” independently developed a similar vision. However, government restrictions and persecution forced the movement to go underground for decades, and its leader Simon Zhao spent 40 years in prison.

Since 2003, the most vocal international proponent of “Back to Jerusalem” has been the exiled Chinese house church leader Liu Zhenying, also known as “Brother Yun.” Yun intends for “Back to Jerusalem” to evangelize fifty-one countries by sending a minimum of 100,000 missionaries along the Silk Road, an ancient trade route that winds from China to the Mediterranean Sea. The ongoing work of evangelism, both within China and beyond its borders, is being done anonymously by Chinese church members, who make no appeals for money or seek any publicity for themselves.

Suggestions for action

Pray: May sharing my faith become effective for revealing every good thing that is in me in honor of Jesus.

The Chinese Church has been honed by decades of persecution. Most of their existence is underground — out of site of the authorities. It is mostly a cell church movement without public meetings. Somehow this vision of having a mission back to Jerusalem, the fount of their salvation, came to believers from different segments of the church. It started a movement that keeps gaining strength. How do you think you would do if the church were persecuted in the U.S. like it has been in China?

Evangelism is strongest when it comes from the poor and oppressed, isn’t it? The poor of the Middle East in the first and second centuries, the slaves of the United States, the vast Chinese underclass. Pray for the poor and oppressed to fire up our faith! Maybe we should pray to become small and poor in our own way, as well. Perhaps the Lord will inspire and use us.

February 11, 2017 — India in the 1900’s

Sattal Christian Ashram, Nainital. Founded by E. Stanley Jones

Today’s Bible reading

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” — Romans 10:11-15

A Rattlesnake, if Cornered will become so angry it will bite itself. That is exactly what the harboring of hate and resentment against others is -- a biting of oneself. We think we are harming others in holding these spites and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves. - E. Stanley Jones

More thoughts for meditation

We are on a spiritual pilgrimage with daring Jesus-followers who were convicted to act on today’s reading.

Eli Stanley Jones (1884–1973) was a 20th-century Methodist Christian missionary and theologian. He is remembered chiefly for his interreligious lectures to the educated classes in India, thousands of which were held across the Indian subcontinent during the first decades of the 20th century. He said, “The Indian is making an amazing discovery, namely that Christianity and Jesus are not the same – that they may have Jesus without the system that has been built up around Him in the West.”

According to his and other contemporary reports, his friendship for the cause of Indian self-determination allowed him to become a friend of leaders of the up-and-coming Indian National Congress party. He spent much time with Mohandas K. Gandhi, and the Nehru family. Gandhi challenged Jones and, through Jones’ writing, the thousands of Western missionaries working there during the last decades of the British domination, to include greater respect for the mindset and strengths of the Indian character in their work. After Gandhi’s assassination Jones wrote a biography on his life.  Years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told Jones’ daughter that it was this biography that inspired him to “non-violence” in the Civil Rights Movement.

The effort to contextualize Christianity for India was the subject of his seminal work, The Christ of the Indian Road which sold more than 1 million copies worldwide after its publication in 1925.

Jones is also the founder of the Christian Ashram movement. In the months prior to December 7, 1941, he was a constant confident of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Japanese leaders trying to avert war. Stranded in the United States during World War II with his family in India (because the only overseas travel allowed was for the military), he transplanted the Christian Ashram in the United States and Canada, where it has become a strong spiritual growth ministry.

Suggestions for action

Quotes from E. Stanley Jones:

Pray with Jones: Your love, God, invades me, your peace of pervades me, your will persuades me, and I am wholly yours.

Ponder how much you resemble these quotes from Jones. Write out your prayers in response.

  • Your capacity to say “No” determines your capacity to say “Yes” to greater things.
  • The early Christians did not say, in dismay, ‘Look what the world has come to,’ but, in delight, ‘Look what has come to the world!”
  • If you don’t make up your mind, your unmade mind will unmake you.
  • Jesus will meet me today in the person of someone in need–I must not miss him.
  • When we say we begin with God, we begin with our idea of God, and our idea of God is not God. Instead, we ought to begin with God’s idea of God, and God’s idea of God is Christ
  • An individual gospel without a social gospel is a soul without a body and a social gospel without an individual gospel is a body without a soul. One is a ghost, the other a corpse.

February 10, 2017 — Liberia in the 1800’s

Liberia coast

Today’s Bible reading

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. — Acts 1:8

More thoughts for meditation

We are on a spiritual pilgrimage with daring Jesus-followers who were convicted to act on today’s reading.

Born into slavery in Charles City County, Virginia, Lott Carey/Cary (1780-1828) was one of the first African American Baptist missionaries to preach and work in Africa.  Although Carey may have received Christian teachings from his father, a respected member of the Baptist church, he did not join a church until 1807 when he experienced the religious conversion that would launch his desire to spread Christianity to Africa.

He began his career under the auspices of the predominately “white” First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia.  After several months as an itinerant preacher to slaves on plantations in the Richmond area, he accepted the pastorate of the African Baptist Church of Richmond. In 1819, Carey received approval from the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions as well as the American Colonization Society to set up a mission in West Africa.  Two years later, Carey, his wife and two children, and 28 adult members of his church and several other children set sail for Liberia.

Despite material hardships, Carey and his group established a mission in Liberia.  Carey’s missionary work among the Africans in the region resulted in the expansion of the congregation by 60 or 70 new members by 1825, despite frequent armed resistance from other Africans who objected to the colonists’ presence.  In 1826, the congregation constructed a new meeting house. Forty-eight year-old Carey was killed in an accidental explosion while making bullets in 1828.

Carey’s legacy lives on in the Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community and other enterprises named after one of the first African American missionaries.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Give me power to be your witness as far as you desire to stretch me.

As persecution of free African Americans mounted in the build up to the Civil War, some people considered how to repatriate to Africa. The missionary mindset was taking hold all over Europe and the United States as countries rushed to carve up the world into empires. Was Lott Carey swept away in the political movements of the time, or was he bravely following Jesus to the ends of the earth?

Where is the “ends of the earth” for you? Could God get you to cross your border into it?

Maybe you don’t need to think of that question in terms of nations and air travel. When do you get scared to tell someone you are a follower of Jesus? Maybe that’s the border you should pray about right now. Be comforted in your fear, not just made more fearful by considering that border. God is with us.


Today is Jacob Engel Day! Visit our spiritual ancestor at our sister site: Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

February 9, 2017 — North America in the 1700’s

Martha’s Vineyard beach

Today’s Bible reading

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — John 14:6

More thoughts for meditation

We are on a spiritual pilgrimage with daring Jesus-followers who were convicted to act on today’s reading.

Experience Mayhew (1673-1758) followed in his father’s footsteps as a missionary to the Wampanoag on Martha’s Vineyard. He translated the Psalms and the Gospel of John into the Massachusett language. His work was second only to John Eliot’s Indian Bible in terms of significant Indian-language translations in colonial New England.  Jonathan Mayhew, his most famous child, became a minister at Old West Church in Boston and was well-known for coining the phrase “No taxation without representation.”

Mayhew began to preach to the Wampanoag at the age of 21. He became a Congregational minister with the oversight of five or six Indian assemblies, and continued in his ministry for 64 years. Having thoroughly mastered the Wôpanâak language, which he had learned in infancy, he was employed by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England to make his translations.

Indian Converts — 1727

Mayhew published Indian Converts in 1727, which covers the lives and culture of four generations of Wampanoag men, women, and children on Martha’s Vineyard, and which served as some justification for his work. It records his exhaustive caring, discipling, and healing, as well as his lament over the ravages of sin and death the European settlers brought with them. He rejoices as the old, native religion is superseded, but he also has some issues with the strict Calvinism and violent politics of his time.

Suggestion for action

Pray: Give me hope for people to meet you, the way, truth and life.

Experience Mayhew tried to do his best for the natives of Martha’s Vineyard. Right? Would it have been better had he never existed? Would it have been better if the natives never knew about Jesus? What do you think Jesus would answer?

Meditate on your experience of the Lord’s claim on you and others. Can you say, “You are my way, my truth, my life?” Say it. What does that feel like? What do your feelings invite you to do?


Today is Richard Twiss Day! Visit this inspiring ancestor at our sister site: Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

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