SOME BASIC ISSUES
NEW TRIBES MISSION came
into existence for a very definite purpose. We believe that some BASIC
ISSUES were laid heavily upon the heart of its founder, Paul Fleming,
and those men who, with him, brought this Mission into being. Without
question, the Holy Spirit directed them regarding these basic
principles. If, as a Mission, we don't adhere to these, we have very
little reason to exist. We could just as well then be merged into other
existing missionary agencies. But, if the last tribe is to be reached in
this generation, then we must faithfully adhere to these basic issues.
They are absolutely essential.
To successfully reach
the last tribe in this generation, it is the Lord's desire that every
Christian become absorbed in this task to his maximum ability--not his
minimum. God does not want to use many of His children a little or not
at all and, at the same time, use a few a great deal. He wants to use
EVERYONE to the utmost.
What Are the
He does not want to use
only those who are between 21 and 30 years old. If a person is not in
this age bracket, it does not mean that God cannot use him. Some of our
very best missionaries came to us after they were 40 years old. If the
Firestone Tire & Rubber Company can send men out to the foreign
countries after they are 40, why can't THE LORD send them out? Is this
If a man is married and
has a fair-sized family, why should this eliminate him from foreign
missionary work? The Great Commission does not call for men over 21 and
under 30, single, or married with less than three children. What right
do we, then, have to make stipulations of this nature?
The Word of God does not
say that one should have a perfect body to be usable in missionary work,
either. The Apostle Paul did not seem to have such a body--nor did
Timothy, as he seems to have had "often infirmities." It would be nice
to have such a body, but God can use people who do not have such a body,
Education is good,
especially the kind that the Holy Spirit gives people. The Word of God
does not, however, advocate so many years in an accredited college or
university, or that one should have some degree. We are told: "Study
to shew (ourselves) approved unto God, (workmen) that needeth not to be
ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15). It
is obvious that many times Christian men will not approve the man whom
God Can Use EVERY
It seems that God has an
altogether different way of picking out those whom He will use for His
glory: "GOD HATH CHOSEN the foolish things of the world to confound the
wise." Man does not do it this way: "And GOD HATH CHOSEN the weak
things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." Again,
man does not pick them this way: "And base things of the world, and
things which are despised, HATH GOD CHOSEN" (I Corinthians 1:27,
MAN chooses the classy,
talented, strong, fluent, intelligent people, but GOD does not often
choose them. We try hard to finally get the approval of man so we can
qualify, only to find we have disqualified ourselves. God chooses
"things which are not, to bring to NOUGHT things that are: That no flesh
should glory in his presence" (I Corinthians 1:28b, 29). It is
difficult to work hard to get to be somebody, and still realize that we
are nobody, and that it is still "God plus nothing" that will get the
We believe that God
wants to use EVERY Christian somewhere in this great world job. It is
imperative that the Church realize this in these days. God wants His
children to have a good knowledge of His Word--ALL can have this if they
want it. He wants men and women who have burning hearts constrained by
His Spirit to give this glorious Gospel to those who know it not--ALL
can do this, too (II Corinthians 5:14, 15).
The truth of the matter
is that "... The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few..."
(Luke 10:2). God has raised up New Tribes Mission as a channel to help
missionaries get out to this great harvest that is ripe and wasting for
want of reapers. Our only qualifications are SPIRITUAL. Almost any
Christian can qualify if he really wants to do so. This principle is a
right one, and we need to hold squarely to it.
So much emphasis has
been put on OTHER qualifications that it would be easy for us to retreat
to this common opinion. As a Mission, we do not despise these other
qualifications laid down by many missionary groups. If they wish to set
up such standards, it is their prerogative. We do not believe our
standards are unscriptural, so we should have the right to stand as we
do for such principles. This is one of the reasons we exist.
A Faith Mission
These are days when many
so-called faith organizations are not such anymore. My father was used
of God to start an orphanage. It was called "Faith Home for Children."
Because of age and health, he had to retire from active work in the
orphanage in his later years. Before he died, he requested that the
organization leave out the word "Faith" as it had stopped operating on
that basis. It was a "Home for Children," doing a fine work, but not run
on the faith basis any longer.
We are criticized for
running our Mission on the basis of "faith." "Now the just shall live
by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in
him" (Hebrews 10:38). “... for whatsoever is not of faith is sin"
(Romans 14:23). If other groups wish to go on a different basis, it is
all right. That is between them and the Lord. But why have we not the
right to stand on such a scriptural principle? It is not as easy on the
flesh, but it is pleasing to the Lord-and thrilling, too! This also is a
right principle, and we must stick to it.
Our Mission was brought
into being to emphasize and to pursue indigenous church methods and
principles. It is our strong conviction that worldwide evangelization
will only be reached by these methods, as God's Word is spread abroad
through His servants.
Catching FISHERS of men
is more important than catching men. Winning a man to Christ, and then
teaching him to go out and win other men and teach them, has utmost
priority. It is hard to realize that this is more important to the
overall program of world evangelization than even to go out and win the
masses to Christ. The end results, of course, are what really count.
"And the things that
thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to
faithful men, WHO SHALL BE ABLE TO TEACH OTHERS ALSO"
(II Timothy 2:2).
This is a basic New
Testament principle. Jesus spent most of His 31/2 years of ministry on
this earth with 12 men whom He taught and in whom He invested His life.
From these has come the Church of Jesus Christ today. The months and
years just following Jesus' death were the days of the Church's greatest
growth and expansion in spite of terrible persecution and martyrdom. The
early Church was working by these principles.
At first, the growth
seems slow and somewhat tedious, but it is not long before it begins to
"snowball," and, in a surprisingly short time, the job could be
finished. If I were the only Christian, and this year I would win one to
Christ and teach him, then next year the two of us each would win one
and teach him, and then the next year the four of us would each go out
and win and teach one; if this were done annually for 34 years, the
total would be more than the entire world's population! Think how many
Christians there are in the world today. If each were to win and teach
one a year, we could see world evangelization in 10 or 15 years at the
longest. Only by this method will we see this world job accomplished, so
we had better not settle for anything less or for other methods.
Recently, I was
listening to a fine radio program upholding AMERICANISM in the face of
the onslaughts of Communism. The statement of the speaker regarding the
only possible way to combat the red wave of Communism was very
revealing. He said that all the great crusading against Communism in big
mass meetings will not turn the tide. The only way it can be done is for
every American to make it his objective to talk Americanism to at least
one person every day. In this way, he said, we could not fail. The other
way, he said, was doomed to failure.
It is not a few doing a
lot but everybody constantly doing a little that will win. It is a New
Testament principle. Christians, we must all become propagators!
Leave the Native Where
Some missionaries have
felt it necessary to bring their most promising converts--among either
nationals or tribesmen--to America to train them, where they can have
all the advantages America has to offer. In this way; it is thought that
they would become more effective workers in their own country and among
their own people.
The successes of this
job of propagating the Gospel does not depend on an American school or
what it has to offer a foreigner. So many who come to America for their
education only get caught in our system and way of life--the ease, the
plenty, and the luxury of it all. They do not want to go back to their
people and their way of life. They have been spoiled for it. I speak
from a spiritual point of view. If they do go back to their own country,
it is with aspirations for position and material gain, and not for the
propagation of the Gospel among their own people.
One of our American-born
Filipino workers found it very hard to work in the Philippines. Unless
she was very careful to thoroughly identify herself with them, rather
than with Americans, little could be accomplished. While this is true
with any missionary, it is even more touchy with one of their own. In
other words, it creates barriers and problems that are not easily
overcome. It does not help--it hurts.
What a hopeless thing to
feel that these tribes people and nationals to whom we go can never
really be usable to any extent unless they get the kind of education we
have received in America! The wonderful thing about the Gospel is its
simplicity: "... the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err
therein" (Isaiah 35:8b). We cannot even enter the Kingdom of Heaven
unless we become as little children.
The Gospel works the
same the world over. Sometimes the Lord can use a stevedore better than
a college professor, even as Communism often does in propagating its
doctrine. The thing that will make the difference is not their education
or their lack of it, but the fact that they have met Jesus: "Now when
they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were
unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of
them, that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). This is another of
these New Testament principles.
Help Build Their
Often missionaries have
urged our American Christians to help the natives build their little
churches. It has been said that $50 will build a native church: "See how
far your money goes, and for such a good cause, too! It is so little
compared to what our churches cost." Natives do not need stained-glass
windows or even glass windows. They don't need hardwood floors or board
floors, necessarily. They don't need tile or even metal roofs. Grass
roofs are good.
I have seen many nice
little churches with grass roofs, mud walls, packed dirt floors, and
window openings only! Logs were trimmed down for pews--without backs.
All this was made by the natives from materials they got without cost,
only work, out of the jungles. You say it is not very good. It is as
good as their own dwellings, and their own economy, and it is theirs!
They built it, and they keep it up, too. They are proud, indeed, of it.
Any group of natives or tribes people can build its own church if the
people are ambitious. God does not dwell in temples made by hands,
anymore. A building is not the Church. It is just the place where the
Church meets. God uses people, not buildings.
The natives could meet
under a tree or in someone's home, if need be. Let us keep the church
theirs--even the building in which they worship: "... for ye are the
temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and
walk in them...” (II Corinthians 6:16). In South America, where
Sophie Muller, one of our missionaries, has been working among Indian
tribes, there are now hundreds of churches. All have been built by the
Indians. They belong to them and are kept up by them without a cent of
American money. Let us keep the native Church strong and healthy. This,
too, is another of these basic principles of New Testament church
Support the Native
It is hard to see native
Christians get out into Gospel work and not subsidize them. Recently, on
one of our fields, some national Christians, who were studying to
evangelize their own people, left us to go with another group because
they were paid a small amount by them. It was not much, but the benefits
were still good in their economy. We could have kept them by offering
them as much, I feel sure. However, that principle is a wrong principle.
On church bulletin
boards around this country, and in some homes I go into, there are
pictures of native workers being supported by Americans. Also, in
meetings, I have heard missionaries urge giving to native workers. Their
arguments are good, too. These natives live on a fraction of the money
that a foreign missionary requires. "See how many more workers can be
supported with the same amount of money. These nationals," they say,
"speak the language more fluently and know the people better, too." All
this is true, but it can spoil them almost unwittingly. They begin to
look to America rather than to the Lord. For what they are given, they
still live better than most natives, though the amount is very small.
If American missionaries
and their money are cut off from these people, what will happen? Reports
of missions that worked in China state they will never again be guilty
of making "rice Christians" out of native workers paid from America.
When the money stops, the propagation stops, too, for the most part. We
will not get as many native workers this way at the start, but those we
get will be REAL. Every indigenous church needs to be self-governing,
self-propagating, and self-supporting. To insist on this is only a
blessing. We cannot afford to have these workers or churches become
spiritual "hothouse plants," but rather be the kind that can really
stand the elements, and be sturdy and strong, like the oak.
Often, when the subject
of these basic issues is discussed, there are those missionaries who
will say that, while all this is scriptural, is just will not work on
their fields. Every missionary seems to have his reason why it could not
work in his area.
Sophie Muller, in the
past few years, has been used of the Lord to reach 12 tribes with the
Gospel. She may have done some things wrong, but the things I have
discussed she has adhered to faithfully. Multitudes have come to know
Christ as their Savior. Their lives and whole communities have been
changed and transformed. Their churches were built by the people
themselves, and these churches are very adequate. The believers have
their own ministers or overseers. They administer their own church
discipline. While Sophie is a woman, each church is led by men. She has
leaders in all these many churches. None is paid by her or with money
from America. THEY keep HER, for the most part. Every 6 months, the
Indians of the various tribes come together by tribes for their own
great conferences. They travel by canoe with paddles. Different families
in the various tribes go out to evangelize 2 or 3 months at a time.
Others in their local villages take care of their gardens for them while
they are gone.
The Gospel is going out,
and not by American money, either. Some years ago, on the Isana River in
Brazil, through opposition, our few missionaries were forced to leave.
The Indian Christians there were by themselves for several years.
However, the Gospel continued to go out, and new areas were reached by
these native Christians.
God's Word is true! Let
us keep true to these methods and principles. The Lord brought New
Tribes Mission into being to propagate them. They need to be emphasized
as never before. NOW is not the time to slacken in this spiritual
warfare. Only as we do these things will this great task be successfully
accomplished--and IN THIS GENERATION. May the Church of God in such a
manner move, like a mighty army, till the last tribe is reached with the
glorious Gospel--and Christ comes again for His own.