XXII. THE MISSIONARY OUTCOME
By Robert H. Glover, M.D,
Foreign Secretary of The Christian and Missionary Alliance
THE careers of Old Testament patriarchs and prophets and of New Testament apostles had their genesis in a heavenly vision. The Lord appeared to Abraham and Moses and spoke to them. Isaiah and Ezekiel both beheld the glory of the Lord and heard His voice. To Paul and John, under circumstances strikingly different, was given the same exalted heavenly vision.
In all these instances, and many others which might be cited, the essential features were the same, despite wide divergence in external setting. There was accorded to these people a divine audience, from which they went forth with a new subjective knowledge of God, a transformed and illuminated spirit, and a sense of a great and compelling commission to service.
But God's line of prophets and apostles has not run out, and of this fact no better evidence and example can be furnished in this generation than the life and work of the Rev. Albert B. Simpson. To him, at a peculiar crisis in his life, was granted as to these others the heavenly vision. It was a twofold vision, first, of the exalted Christ and the believer's glorious inheritance in Him for spirit, soul and body; and then, of a lost world dying for the lack of the knowledge of that Christ.
That vision crystallized in the forming of the Christian Alliance and the International Missionary Alliance, and these two bodies were in turn united in the present Christian and Missionary Alliance. It is with the foreign aspect of this movement that the present chapter has to deal.
It was no light undertaking or easy task which faced Dr. Simpson and the little group of kindred spirits that gathered around him at that early date. It meant the blazing of a new missionary trail round the world. It was not that there was any disposition on Dr. Simpson's part to ignore or underrate the missionary work already done or in progress through other agencies. All this he gratefully recognized both then and at all times. And yet he felt a clear and imperative call to project a new missionary movement on certain distinctive lines.
Its program was pre millennial, looking not toward world conversion as its goal, but rather toward the reaching of the whole world with the witness of the Gospel and the calling out from among every nation, tribe, and tongue of "a people for his name," a bride for the returning Heavenly Bridegroom. It chose and maintained a pioneer policy, with the aim of evangelizing the most distant and destitute, and in particular the yet wholly unoccupied fields. Its preeminent method was evangelism, â€¢ direct, aggressive, and widespread, with the object of giving to all people everywhere a fair opportunity to hear of Jesus and be saved. Its standards were spiritual, laying insistent stress upon absolute consecration and the filling and enduement with the Holy Spirit as the^ supreme requisite for its missionary candidates, along with consistent physical strength and intellectual gift and training. It recognized and accepted as its missionaries laymen as well as clergymen, and women as well as men, and without distinction as to denominational connection. It adopted the faith principle of support, not guaranteeing fixed or large salaries but standing with its missionaries in trust for the full supply from the Lord of the financial needs of workers and work through the free will offerings of His people. And, finally, it promoted a spirit of economy in living and of sacrifice in giving among its entire constituency.
While in missionary principle and practice the Alliance patterned very largely after the already existing and honored China Inland Mission, there was from the beginning the one important difference that the Alliance sphere of operations was international; and this has continued to the present to distinguish this society from most, if not all, other faith missions which have since begun work, inasmuch as the efforts of these other agencies have usually been confined to one particular mission field.
It was indeed a bold and daring enterprise to project pioneer missionary parties almost simultaneously into half a dozen distant lands thirty years ago, and within five years to commence work in fifteen separate fields and send out nearly one hundred and fifty missionaries. Anything less than a clear heavenly vision and a faith firmly rooted in God on the part of the leader would have caused him to quail before such a venture. But, like Gideon of old. Dr. Simpson had seen the Lord face to face and heard Him say, "Go in this your might; have not I sent you?" And so this person of God set his face like a flint and went forward unfalteringly in naked faith.
Nor did it take anything less than God-given conviction and courage on the part of those who composed the vanguard into these "regions beyond." Seldom has God entrusted to servants of His a harder task. The earliest to go forth were five young people who sailed for the Congo, Africa, in November, 1884, three years before the Alliance was regularly organized. Within a few months of their arrival on the field their leader, John Condit, died of fever. Indeed, the opening of both Congo and Soudan fields proved a painfully costly undertaking. Those deadly climates exacted such an awful toll of lives that for years the missionary graves in both fields outnumbered the living missionaries.
The pioneer Alliance missionary to China, Rev. William Cassidy, was never permitted to reach that land, but died of smallpox contracted on the Pacific voyage and was buried in Japan. Those who followed after him faced a China that was then seething with bitter anti-foreign feeling; and especially in the totally unevangelized provinces of Kuangsi and Hunan, where they were among the early pioneer forces, were they called upon to endure no little hardship and danger. Others pressed on westward to the remote borders of Tibet and knocked at the doors of that hostile and devil-possessed land, to enter which had been one of the main objectives in mind when the Alliance was organized. A little later a band of forty-five workers from Sweden penetrated the far north, and amidst many vicissitudes planted stations beyond China's Great Wall on the borders of Mongolia. The Boxer uprising of 1900 brought this mission to a tragic end. Twenty-one of its foreign workers and fourteen of their precious children were brutally murdered, and the rest made a hazardous escape across the desert into Siberia and after harrowing experiences reached their European homes.
Still another pioneer party of about forty set out for Central India, under the wise and godly leadership of Rev. Mark B. and Jennie Fuller, and opened work among the neglected but proud and resisting Mahratta people. Smaller companies were sent in close succession to other fields.
The Annual Report presented in October, 1893, only- six years after the society was organized and five years from the beginning of its actual operations, showed work begun in twelve fields, with forty stations manned by one hundred and eighty missionaries. Up to that time twenty-three missionary comrades had fallen at the battle front. The fields already occupied were Congo, Soudan, India, China (Central, South and North China and Pekin missions), Japan, Bulgaria, Palestine, Alaska, Hayti and Santo Domingo, besides a Jewish field in New York City. The first steps had also been taken toward establishing missions in Malaysia and the South Sea Islands, but these plans did not mature. Circumstances led to the early withdrawal from Bulgaria and Alaska, and later from Hayti and Santo Domingo. The North China and Pekin missions were broken up by the Boxers in 1900 and never reopened. On the other hand, work was begun successively in West China, Tibet, Brazil and Venezuela (1895), Chile and Jamaica (1897), Argentina and Ecuador (1898), Shanghai, Porto Rico, and Philippine Islands (1900), and French Indo-China (1911). All of these fields, with the exception of Brazil and Venezuela, are still occupied, thus making sixteen fields at the present time.
The story of this worldwide missionary enterprise, so unique in its conception, so varied in its features, and so rich in its detail of wonderful experiences, falls naturally into three periods.
First of all came the Pioneer Period of pressing into virgin territory and establishing new missionary footholds, in the face of obstacles sufficient to challenge the faith and courage of the most doughty warrior. There were closed doors to force open, and physical obstacles to cope with in the shape of deadly climates, unsanitary conditions, and every sort of contagious and loathsome disease. The most difficult languages of the world had to be grappled with. Formidable foes such as bitter antiforeign sentiment in China and Tibet, pride and cunning in Japan, caste and fanticism in India, gross superstition in Africa, official duplicity in Palestine, the subtle plotting of priestcraft in South America -- all these and a host of others -- had to be met and overcome. The opening of some fields and stations was in the teeth of the most strenuous resistance, involving riots and uprisings, humiliating insults, physical injuries, threatenings and dangers of many kinds. And having obtained a first foothold under conditions of this sort, the pioneer missionaries had to negotiate for property, renovate and make habitable old buildings or have new ones erected, and plod through all kinds of tedious and trying preliminaries before a beginning could be made in actual Gospel work.
Then followed the Sowing Period of steady, aggressive evangelistic effort along every line. In churches and street chapels, in tea houses and temple squares, in crowded bazaars and district fairs, in great metropolis and remote hamlet, in crowded thoroughfare and on the lonely winding trail, everywhere and by every means the Word of Life has been sounded forth. Patiently, perseveringly, persistently, in season and out of season, by word of mouth and by the printed page, the ever enlarging band of Alliance missionaries and their devoted native colleagues have sowed these many lands thickly with Gospel seed. Oftentimes it has been literally a "going forth with weeping, bearing the precious seed," amidst many trials and discouragements, and with meager visible results or none at all to cheer the worker.
But as with the earliest apostles so with these later ones -- "they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." Wonderfully has God fulfilled in this simple apostolic work His promise of sheaves as the reward of faithful seed-sowing, and so in turn the Reaping Period has come. At first it was only by ones and twos, here and there, that the converts came. But year by year the results have steadily increased, and now the fuller harvest has set in, and the Alliance is on almost every one of its fields reaping the richest fruitage of all its history.
Let a few examples suffice to illustrate this development. There in dark Congo, early studded so thickly with missionary- graves, more than four thousand heathen have been converted and baptized, and we find today ten churches, several of them seating a thousand or more, built with native Christian money and voluntary labor, and all regularly filled to capacity with devout worshippers. In Kuangsi, South China, twenty-five years ago wrapped in unrelieved heathen darkness, the Alliance has today fifteen churches, several of them wholly self-supporting, with a membership of nearly two thousand. Hunan, once the most gospel-hating province of all China, is now among the most fruitful fields, and last year in a single day one Alliance missionary baptized one hundred and seventy-two persons on one station. In India three thousand five hundred souls have confessed Christ in baptism, and in the Latin America fields three thousand more.
Space forbids the mention of each field in order or the recounting of a mass of detailed facts and features of intense interest. We can only attempt to sum up in briefest compass a few of the outstanding results to date of the missionary work which had its beginning only one short generation ago in the response of God's faithful servant, Albert B. Simpson, to the divine call. The Gospel has been carried into a number of the darkest and most neglected lands in the world. The Alliance was among the pioneers of Kuangsi and Hunan, the last two provinces of China to be entered. It has penetrated Tibet and occupies three points within its borders. It was the pioneer of French Indo-China and is still the only evangelical mission at work among eighteen million benighted Annamese. It has stations among the aboriginal tribesmen of South China and the pagan Subanos of the Southern Philippines, It built the first Protestant chapels in Venezuela and Ecuador, and is laboring among the Mapuche Indians of Chile and the Quichua tribe on the Ecuadorian Andes. It has the only American church in old Jerusalem, and is located at Beersheba on the southern border of Palestine among the wild Bedouin Arabs. It has recently planted a station on the banks of a large tributary of the Niger River in the vast and unevangelized land of French Guinea. And now it s planning advances at an early date into French Congo, and across Jordan into the new SyroArabian state.
In most of its sixteen fields the Alliance has a large territory all its own, and a careful estimate reveals the solemn fact that within the areas at present committed to this society, and in which it is as yet the only evangelizing agency, there are at least forty million benighted souls whose only apparent hope of ever hearing the Gospel is through Alliance efforts. What a sacred trust and grave responsibihty such a fact bespeaks! Thank God, as a result of the work already done, a vast number -- at least one or two millions -- have come under the sound of the blessed Gospel for the first time.
This in itself is an achievement for which we may well give praise to God. But there is more, much more than this. The preaching of the Cross has thus early borne precious and abundant fruit, despite the peculiar difficulties attending pioneer work in virgin soil. The records show that up to the end of 1919 no fewer than 17,356 had been baptized on clear evidence of a saving faith in Christ, while many others were counted as sincere enquirers. There were 125 organized churches with nearly 12,000 members in full communion. There have been gratifying evidences of marked growth in grace among the Christians, many of whom have gone on to mature spiritual manhood. Instances abound of wonderful transformations of heart and home, of miracles of healing through faith in the Lord, and of His mighty providence and power at work along many lines. Last year 8,704 scholars were enrolled in Sunday Schools, 7,714 in primary Christian day schools, and nearly a thousand choice young men and women were in training in twenty-six more advanced schools, including nine Bible Institutes, in preparation for active Christian service.
No single fact bears stronger testimony to the spiritual results of this mission work than that from its infant native churches 700 men and women have heard the Master's call to service and today comprise -- as pastors, evangelists, Bible-women and teachers -- a devoted and efficient auxiliary force to the 320 foreign missionaries who are holding 500 stations and outstations in this far-flung battle line and are vigorously pressing forward on every front.
But while the facts thus stated and the figures quoted bear their own testimony, it is to be realized that any recital of facts and figures must in the end fall far short of telling the full story of the outflow of divine grace and power through a thousand streams of consecrated activity and influence which were fed from that life that itself drank so deeply from the fountain of divine fullness. One thinks of those inspired words uttered by the dying patriarch concerning his favorite son as peculiarly applicable to the life we are here considering: "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall." Dr. Simpson's ministry and influence far outreached the limits of the particular organization which he founded. It was the writer's rare privilege to accompany him on deputational tours both in America and in Great Britain, as well as later to follow in his steps in a round-the-world visitation of missionary lands. Never will he forget the host of grateful testimonies he has heard borne by godly men and women in many lands -- among them not a few missionaries of note and persons of prominence in other spheres -- to the deep and abiding influence upon their life and service which Dr. Simpson exerted, whether by his personal preaching and touch or by his books and writings. And who will define the measure in which his clear and inspired vision and his impassioned appeals by voice and pen imparted a vital impulse to the whole modern missionary enterprise?
The Lord has seen fit to promote His honored servant to the higher realm of service above. Today he stands in the presence of the King and beholds His face. While we mourn his loss we rejoice in the heritage he has left the entire Church of Christ by his ministry of spiritual power and worldwide outreach. Verily, "he being dead yet speaks" the world around, through thousands of lives inspired and enriched by his touch, while multitudes in every land, who owe their salvation to the missionary agencies which he was the means of bringing into being or of stimulating, "Rise up and call him blessed."
One word more in closing: Dr. Simpson's impelling vision and passion were to take the whole Gospel with all speed to the whole world. His missionary motto was "the regions beyond," his missionary goal "the uttermost part of the earth." He projected the witness of the Gospel into some of the remotest corners of the globe, and today Alliance missionaries are to be found on not a few of the most distant outposts of the great missionary enterprise. They are on "the roof of the world" in lone Tibet, in the thickly peopled deltas of destitute Indo- China, on the crest of the lofty Andes looking down into the black heart of South America's unpenetrated savage Indian region, on the banks of the mighty Niger in the limitless stretches of the dark Soudan, and now at the fords of the Jordan, ready to press on into the blighted land of Arabia.
But there are other great areas with vast populations -- in Central Asia, in the interior of Africa and South America, in the Island World -- which still lie outside the present activities and even the projected plans of all existing missionary societies. These lands were in Dr. Simpson's vision and heavily upon his heart, Who is to carry the Gospel to them, and when? The divine command is clear, categorical and unalterable: "to all nations/' "to every creature," "to the uttermost part of the earth." The divine will is that all may have a chance to hear and be saved. The divine program waits for its completion until "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" at least some representatives shall be gathered for the bride made ready for the Bridegroom's coming. That the record of this departed missionary apostle may stir the heart of the true Church of Christ to move forward in fuller obedience, and with a new daring of faith and a sacrificial spirit, on definite and concerted lines for the speedy completion of her great unfinished task of world evangelization -- this is the fervent prayer of one who will ever feel the great debt he owes to Dr. Simpson, his revered teacher, leader and friend, for the molding and inspiring of his own life and service."
The Life of A. B. Simpson is the Official Authorised Edition by A. E. THOMPSON, M. A. with Special Chapters by Paul Rader James M. Gray, D. D. Kenneth Mackenzie, J. Gregory Mantle, D. D. F. H. Senft, B. A. R. H. Glover, M. D. W. M. Turnbull, D. D. Published by Christian Alliance Publishing Co. 318 West 39TH St., New York in 1920. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
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