Cornerstone Magazine Fall 2015 - Page 22

On Missions BRANDON CHIA Who is a missionary? The story of Burma’s first missionary. On 168 Lloyd Avenue, at the door of the Judson house, lies a bronze plaque commemorating the life of Adoniram Judson, a Brown Alumnus. Judson, one of the first missionaries to Burma, embodies the spirit of missions. Prior to his missions, Judson sought to marry his fiancee, Ann Hasseltine, and wrote a letter to her father asking for her hand in marriage. Instead of sweet words pledging to provide eternal love and security for Ann, Judson lays out the harsh truth of his future to Mr. Hasseltine: I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world ? whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? By faith, Mr. Hasseltine consents. Indeed, over the span of the tumultuous Anglo-Burmese War, Judson faced arrest, torture, and imprisonment in the vermin-infested Burmese prison of Ava. He was bound in fetters, starved and occasionally suspended and trussed by his mangled feet in prison. He lost Ann and his third child to illness. Yet Judson steadfastly declared that every missionary’s motto was to be “devoted for life”, and the ruling motive to please the Lord Jesus. What are missions? For many a skeptic, missions may be associated with the dark history of cultural imposition, colonialism, and imperialism that often accompanied the spread of Western empires. Even in the modern day, missions trips can frequently be seen as ‘religious tourism’. Beyond these misconceptions, missions actually reach far beyond this, drawing its beginnings from the words of Jesus to His disciples, on a Galilean mountain: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (MATTHEW 28:19-20, NIV) 24 CORNERSTONE Magazine At its heart, missions are about sending out followers of Jesus into the world, to make Him known to the nations. This calling has been an essential part of the Christian faith from the issuing of the Great Commission (cited above). Scriptures record the early Apostles, such as Peter, Paul and James, spreading the Gospel to the regions of Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, Spain and Rome. These journeys form much of the historical context for the Book of Acts and the Epistles in the New Testament. Missions and Development In the modern era, development and aid efforts have accompanied the spread of the Gospel. This draws from the principle outlined in James 2:16, which is a call for Christians to demonstrate their faith through good works: If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,”