On February 15, 2017, Dr. Marv Newell, Senior VP of Missio Nexus, aired an interview of Dr. Evan Burns, highlighting the new book: A Supreme Desire to Please Him: The Spirituality of Adoniram Judson. The mission of Missio Nexus is to advance the effectiveness of the Great Commission community in North America in global mission. Here is the audio interview:
In a mere ninety pages, the great missionary-theologian, David J. Bosch (1929-1992) was able to deliver one of the most powerful commentaries on Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, calling it, “…the best case study in missionary spirituality that has ever been published” (12). This book flowed from the sessions in the Mennonite Missionary Study Fellowship in the Spring of 1978, but is just as relevant, if not more, almost forty-years later. It was written to address the results of a survey that were given to missionaries about their greatest challenges. Of nine choices the one that came out on top was, “almost every missionary admitted having problems in pursuing a satisfactory devotional life” (10). Among further investigation it was revealed that the definition of spirituality needed to be addressed. There was an ongoing view that devotional life means to, “withdrawal from the world, charging my battery, and then going out into the world” (11). With this view it would seem that how much one is “run down” is in direct proportion to how much time one needs to spend “recharging” their spiritual battery. Bosch identifies the problem as the separation of these two segments of life. He writes, “spirituality…can never be something that can be isolated from the rest of our existence” (13). As one gets more involved in this world, especially that of cross-cultural missions, it should lead to a deepening of our relationship and a greater dependence upon God.
In the book Bosch is, “…hoping to lead away from false kind of spirituality which is content with inwardness alone at the expense of active discipleship lived in the here and now” (7). He develops this theme, addressing the message, character, and weakness of the missionary, revealing that, “Being spiritual means being in Christ, whether we pray or walk or work” (13).
Spirituality and The Message
For the believer actively living out their faith, rejection and opposition are absolutes. The gospel is offensive, but, “Too often the opposition we experience is in no way related to the gospel we purport to proclaim but simply to our own human selves” (27). The problem, says Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama, is that, “we practice an “answer theology”” (31). The example given is from an evangelistic campaign in India, which put up posters saying, “Jesus is the answer!” On which, one of the posters a student wrote, “Yes, but what was the question?”
As missionaries, we often practice an “answer theology”. We know what is needed and are there to “solve the problem”. With regards to the spreading of the gospel everywhere, Paul writes in 2 Cor 2:16, “Who is sufficient for these things?” Bosch notes on this, “This is a rhetorical question to which the answer can only be: “Nobody.” Surprisingly, however, there are people who believe that they are worthy and capable of being Christ’s servants. Paul refers to them as “hawkers” (2:17), people “who handle God’s message as if it were cheap merchandise””(30). Are we “hawkers”? Are we selling the gospel as something cheap? Are we interested in our own agenda and not the needs of people? This is the mentality of a “hawker” and the sad case is, this is the mentality of many missionaries. But this may not completely be the missionary’s fault. There is often pressure from “supporters” for a numbers based result and the missionary is “feeling terribly embarrassed when we cannot report tangible results, when miracles do not happen, when the spectacular appears to be completely absent in our work and only the dreariness seems to be in evidence” (31).
The missionary’s responsibility is not in the results as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3, but faithfulness to the message. They are to, “praise the Lord Christ among the peoples of the earth, irrespective of the outcome, even in a situation…hopeless” (36).
 Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from: Bosch, David J. A Spirituality of the Road. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001. Print.
Here are some very famous quotes that have inspired many missionaries. Of course many other famous quotes were not included, but these have been quite popular.
For the sake of comments and discussion, what other quotes and persons have inspired you to play your part in obeying Christ’s Commission? Please submit your quotes in the comment link above…
“Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee,” (Psalm 119:11). I memorized this verse when I was very young, probably in a Sunday School class. As I read the Word, often I would see a verse that “stood out” to me and I would memorize it. I thank the Lord for each way that he encouraged me to memorize his Word as I often did it to please the teacher, win a contest or earn a badge. Yet those are the Scriptures that I can recall the best.
Andrew Davis mentions numerous spiritual benefits of memorizing Scripture in his short book, An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture. Davis first shows by quoting Jesus and Peter that our spiritual existence depends on the Word. Jesus asked the Father to sanctify his disciples in truth and added, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). I used to read the Word daily and memorize portions because I was told it was a spiritual discipline. As I have grown in my relationship with the Lord, though, I realize that I need to read the Word and memorize it to keep me from falling into error. The Word is my compass that shows me when I am walking and thinking correctly about God and when I veer to the right or left. One degree of difference is small at the beginning, but if I follow the trajectory, I can soon be very far from the truth. So memorizing Scripture helps me walk in truth as I contemplate it and as the Holy Spirit brings it to memory at strategic times.
Not only does memorization help me walk in truth, but it helps those around me, also. I am often in situations with another believer(s) where we are talking about life and circumstances and the Lord brings to memory something from his Word that speaks into the situation and conversation. We often pray Scripture as we corporately come before the Lord. What better way to know that we are praying according to God’s will than to pray Scripture accurately?
Davis also talks about using memorized Scripture as the sword of the Spirit in moments of temptation and spiritual warfare. David echoed a similar sentiment in the abovementioned verse. I have used memorized Scripture in this way. Davis quotes Romans 12:2 as he mentions that the Word changes our whole mindset so that we are not conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of our minds. Paul talks about the same thing in Romans 8 when he discusses the mind set on the flesh and the mind set on the Spirit. This is akin to the discussion above about the Word being a compass. I do appreciate Davis’ metaphor of the Scripture being like a pure river that washes through our minds. It creates in me a picture of cleansing and refreshing.
Davis describes Bible memorization as a tool to use when sharing the Gospel with others, always being ready to share the reason for the hope in us (1 Peter 3:15). When I was in high school, I shared a lot with my unsaved friends using verses from the Bible. I had to change the King James verb endings so I did not sound like I came from a different century and sound irrelevant. I began memorizing in the New American Standard Bible in high school, but even that can sound out-of-date now. I have started memorizing in the English Standard Version.
David mentions the benefit of having Scripture available for “comfort during trials and bereavement, power and wisdom for counseling, the development of heavenly-mindedness, the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, conviction over indwelling sin, fruitful passage of time while waiting for delayed plane flights, etc.” I am in total agreement with him and have used memorized Scripture in these ways.
In conclusion, Bible memorization is crucial for my spiritual existence and for the spiritual existence of those around me. Jesus told his disciples in the upper room that, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). May I always have a storehouse of Scripture in my mind and heart that the Spirit can bring to my memory when I need it and want it for worship, obedience, my edification and the edification of others.
Andrew Davis, An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture (2014). Download and print it for free: http://hopebaptistchurch.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Davis-Approach-to-Memorization.pdf