April 14, 2010
Missions, Old Skool
Our mission agency, Baptist Mid Missions, has had missionaries working continuously in Brazil since the 1930's. All things being equal, I should live to celebrate the centennial of BMM efforts in this country. There is no group of people I admire more than those pioneer missionaries who paved the way for the work we do now. Their efforts met with hardship, persecution, sickness, and death. And yet they kept going. Their dogged determination to advance the Kingdom of Christ here in Brazil continues to bear fruit on a daily basis.
Recently a friend of mine--whose father was one of the toughest of those tough frontier missionaries--sent me some scans of a quarterly published by our missionaries in the fifties. In between the quaint illustrations and mid-century prose one fact is inescapable: these guys were passionate for souls. I have taken the liberty of capturing a few sections of the journals.
Betty BMM? Why have I never heard of her before? Why didn't she catch on? I think she is going to appear more often on this blog--perhaps a "Betty BMM Says" feature every week.
Oh, and read the article. What Betty says is still valid. The internet is no substitute for good reading material. Hint hint.
This page features pictures from the 1953 conference. A couple things jump out at me. 1) The conference was held here in the Cariri. The place referred to as "Joazeiro" is now called Juazeiro do Norte. 2) The top-left picture shows the mode of travel: train. Missionary Neal Smith (who was instrumental in the conversion of a Catholic priest) is shown. 3) What is referred to as the "mission compound" is now the site of a thriving church, a Christian school, and several storefronts that pay regular rent to our seminary.
Missionary Harold Burns drew this little cartoon which I think accurately expresses how missionaries saw themselves. You can tell this was "Cold War" time by the inclusion of "Communism" in the pack of sharks threatening the poor drowning Brazilian. If we were to draw the cartoon today, it would remain much the same. We might have to add a few sharks, and also add another man reaching out to the victim--The Brazilian Missionary. Below the cartoon was this essay:
Do you get the sense of urgency in their words? If not read the following article:
As I read this, it dawned on me: with very few changes this same article could be written today. Brazil is still called "The Land of Tomorrow", there are still thousands--millions who need Christ. And there is an appalling lack of workers stepping up to take the place of those who are leaving the field. Most of the pioneers have left. They stayed as long as they could, and poured their lives and energies into the work of the Kingdom. Where are their replacements?
Times have changed, but there is one constant: Missionary life is still an adventure. Yes, there are tremendous risks. There are high prices that must be paid. Who is going to step up and risk everything for the Kingdom of God in Brazil?
For those who are interested, I am making these bulletins available in their entirety for download. If you would like to get a glimpse of what missionary life was like "back in the day", click on the links below.
Talk back to the missionary: I know some of the "old skool" missionaries and their relatives read this blog. If you would like to tell us what life was like back then, please feel free to do so in the comments section.
Posted by Andrew on April 14, 2010 9:26 PM.
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