The Great Century of Missions Ended Over a Century Ago: Will Our Age Be the Great Century of Omission?

The People of God must boldly proclaim the gospel message both here and abroad.

People seem to be responding to the topic of missions or missionary work in one of a few ways today.

More recently, our culture has begun to see missions as a controversial reality. We saw this with John Chau and the aftermath of his journey to reach unreached people groups living in territory under the possession of India.

Chau’s story (including news of his death) was broadcasted all over the world. It was fascinating to see how the world responded to this incident in contrast to the news of Jim Elliott and his companion’s death so many decades ago. Elliott was heralded as a hero and had his story spread across the front cover of LIFE magazine.

He and those who journeyed with him to Ecuador spawned the growth of a whole new generation of young people eager to follow in their footsteps and reach unreached people groups with the gospel.

With Chau, the situation had been quite the opposite. Instead of heralded for his courage and sacrifice, the media took a much more critical approach.

Differences for Sure

As a missiologist, I aware that Chau could have changed some aspects of his approach. That’s easy to second guess at this point. But, for the most part, Chau was not the ‘crazed’ and irresponsible adventurer that the media portrayed him as.

He did have many supporters—including the mission’s agency, All Nations, that sent him. They say that he spent time in careful consideration of the risks he was taking in journeying to this tribe and clearly desired to make a positive impact for the kingdom through his work.

Despite this and other cases made in Chau’s defense, our culture has largely remained unimpressed. In fact, they are quite convinced that the idea of going to the other side …

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