by Jay Johansen | Dec 3, 2006
Missionary speakers seem a lot less interesting these days.
I've been attending church regularly for forty-some years. Pretty much every church I've ever attended has had missionaries come back from the field to tour the churches that are supporting them. I've noticed a distinct change in the nature of what missionary speakers have to say when they come to visit. (Maybe it's because I'm now attending a different church ... but I've noticed the same thing at every church I've attended lately. Maybe it's where I live, or maybe it's something that's changed over time.)
When I was a kid and missionaries came to speak, they would report on their efforts in the country they were working in. They would describe the challenges faced and the successes experienced. Many had interesting and amusing stories about cultural differences they had to deal with. I've always found such stories the most interesting part of a missionary report. I think there's just something endlessly fascinating about the confusion caused by cultural differences and translation problems.
But lately, when missionaries come to speak, they give a Bible study or an evangelistic message.
I certainly have nothing against Bible study sermons. But ... surely we don't need to fly someone here from Africa or Asia to preach a Bible study. There are plenty of preachers here in America who can do that just fine. But someone who has spent many years on another continent trying to bring the Gospel to people who have never heard it before knows a great deal from personal experience about what's going on in his mission field, things that no one in this country could talk about so authoritatively. Bringing a missionary home from Africa to give a Bible study is like bringing him home to teach a cooking class. He might be a good cook. He might be a great cook. But what makes him worth hearing is what he knows about missionary work.
© 2006 by Jay Johansen