I am greatly disappointed in the premise by Josef Tson in the Spring 1993 edition of the East-West Church and Ministry Report. We all can sympathize with the problems that undoubtedly come from what he terms "the rush from hundreds of organizations in the West to do missions [in the former East Bloc]." The very wording, though, implies self-seeking efforts, and this tone runs throughout his article. If you step back and examine his thesis, it is plain he is saying if organizations cannot stay, learn the language, and disciple the converts, then we don't want them. We can't handle the results of their activities.
I sense the great frustrations that he is feeling and, in some measure, understand his troubled spirit. But since when did we require that evangelists become longterm missionaries and be responsible for the fruits of their campaigns over such an extended period? Mr. Tson is really saying that no more converts should be allowed to be made than the local church can absorb. A problem also experienced by the early Jerusalem church (3,000 added "that day" Acts 2:41-47)....
More measured thought on the part of Mr. Tson would have resulted in the recognition that his cry should really be, "With such interest in and response to the preaching of the gospel, we now need others to come and help with the task of an extended effort to assist those who make a true decision for Christ to join with a local body of believers for nurture, growth, and further evangelistic outreach!"
As for self-seeking invitations to occupy pulpits and other public forums, I question the harshness of Mr. Tson's indictment in view of his overall negativeness....I appreciated the warmth of Christians in the local churches we visited. And each time I would be among those invited to say a word. While I did so only once, and then to provide a brief study of the Word at a Sunday morning service, several others...who were with me spoke briefly at the various local church gatherings, but the main message was always by a local pastor. Is it so strange that those assembled were curious about us as individuals and interested in us as fellow laborers...?
If the roles were reversed, I am sure that Romanian Christian leaders would receive the same courteous treatment on visits to the USA, and no one would be critical of them because of it.
Stephen E. Slocum, Jr., President, American Tract Society
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© 1993 East-West Church and Ministry Report