Chapter 3: The
Evangelist and World Mission
evangelism, world mission comes fairly well down the list of
priorities of the usual local fellowship. In fact, world mission is
comparatively small compared to the colossal resources available to
the churches in the "sending" countries. Furthermore,
according to Dr. Robertson McQuilken, a former missionary to Japan
with T.E.A.M. and recently retired President of Columbia Bible
College, only about 9% of those on the mission field are actually
involved in Christian ministries, most of the remaining 91% being
care or aid workers of one kind or another. In writing this chapter,
most of the events described were actually witnessed by me, many of
them miracles of God's grace and very evidently dependent on God's
divine appointing. However, this subject is of such enormous
importance to the countries touched by mission and to the church
itself, that this report must be absolutely frank and must "tell
it as it is". The problem is that dysfunctional sending
churches promote their dysfunctional characteristics overseas and
sometimes cause untold harm.
long ago as the 16th Century, the reformist Jesuit missionary
Francis Xavier criticised his predecessors in Goa for attempting to
win the province by involving its political leaders in elaborate
rituals in the European style Gothic cathedrals they were building.
He saw these leaders, steeped as they were in pagan and occult
practices, as infertile soil for the Gospel and advocated the
building of schools where children could be taught Christianity,
thereby winning the province in one generation. "Don't build
churches, build schools!" he said. Danish pietist Bartholomew
Ziegenbalg established five principles, broadly followed by pioneers
like William Carey, on which most modern missions would base their
strategy (see Stephen Neill's book on the History of Christian
Missions, published by Penguin).
- Build schools (as well as churches) and establish Christian
education programmes for the children.
- Make the Word of God available in the local language.
- Preach the Gospel to as many people as possible as often as
possible, being aware of their cultural background and beliefs.
- Work for the personal salvation of each individual.
- Train up local
leaders to do absolutely everything that the local missionary does
and go home, so that the local leadership can enjoy the respect of
their people and actually begin to function as an autonomous local
church, shouldering the burdens and responsibilities of reaching
their own people.
goes without saying that fellowships not living by these principles
at home are unlikely to be successful in an alien environment with
all its extra difficulties of language, customs, etc. I am
constantly astonished by the number of fellowships who seem to think
they can be successful on this basis. Dan Truitt, a missionary
evangelist heading up the O.A.C. open air ministry in Greece,
insists that much greater commitment is required by those
going on the mission field and specifies the following priorities:-
- A strong sense of personal calling
- A godly life
- Mastery of the language
- A real understanding of the culture
- Most important - an intensive prayer ministry for the people
the subject in a limited way at theological college, I found most
books on mission addressed the theological issues faced by the
leaders rather than entering into a description of what the churches
were like, what the believers were like, and what they were doing in
practical terms at the grass roots.
books I have found most helpful and which I use extensively for
teaching on mission, are "The History of Christian Missions"
by Bishop Stephen Neill, published by Penguin. This reads like an
adventure story - which of course it is! I find it almost impossible
to put down every time I pick it up... In rather greater detail,
Professor Kenneth Scott Latourette's very large multi -volume
"History of the Christian Church" which covers the
whole period of its history almost up to date, contains lots of
stories of local individuals and their struggles.
I think Michael
Green's excellent book "Evangelism and the Early Church"
sets out very well the factors which hindered and facilitated church
growth in the first few hundred years. The interesting thing is that
the system of beliefs of most people in the world at that time made
it a great deal more difficult for people to accept
Christianity than it is today. Experience
also shows that in many countries where results in terms of converts
have been apparently good in recent years, many of those who we
think are becoming Christians are actually joining the church to meet
their material needs. This is natural where destitute populations
with little food or fuel are desperately hoping for hand-outs from
Westerners; so even there, there are no short cuts to real church
David Shutes who has studied European Church history for two decades,
asserts that the continental European countries have in fact never
been evangelised: Christianity came with conquering armies. Their
conquering gods (God, Jesus and Mary - a mystifying and misunderstood
relationship) naturally took precedence over the existing local
deities, who became assimilated into the local pantheon as "saints".
David maintains that St. Bridget of Ireland is a good example of
this, having originated possibly in Iron Age times as a pagan
fertility goddess. As the Church became an instrument of the State,
its Bishops became princes with their own armies who enforced
allegiance to Church and State; vestiges of this can be seen in
Greece today when being a "good Greek" is synonymous with
membership of the Orthodox Church. This concept is still assiduously
encouraged by the local priests who have in past years sought to
outlawing evangelical Christianity and even today will sometimes
physically attack those who preach the Gospel in public!
the ground today, the results of this quasi Christian cultural
outlook are that preaching the Christian Gospel in public arouses
great curiosity and at the same time, in some, a lot of suspicion.
I find that in most European countries, East and West, people have
never ever heard about the Lord at all. I remember speaking at an
evangelistic dinner party in Milan where a lady, probably in her late
fifties, listened to my interpreter obviously with rising anger.
Thinking I had offended her, I asked afterwards why she was so upset.
She replied that she had been attending Mass every Sunday since the
age of five but no priest had ever explained the Christian message to
her, and she was furious at being kept in the dark in this way.
In fact, she became the means of the Gospel reaching her entire
family and although she died three or four years later of cancer,
she also brought others into the Kingdom.
Italy in 1985, Anni and I were on a camp site in Florence and met an
American tour bus full of teenage Christians on a "mission to
Europe". They would stay on camp sites and dress up as clowns,
distributing invitations to campers to attend their evening
performance, which consisted of a long mime with explanation in fast
American, totally beyond the comprehension of any of the onlookers.
However, tracts were distributed and friendly Italians enjoyed their
company. Each teenager was paying $5,000 for a month's trip (a lot
of money in those days) and Christian travel agencies may well have
achieved something. However, the amount of money invested in the trip
could have been used much more effectively to fund an Italian
evangelist for ten years - which would actually have resulted in
people joining the local evangelical church.
less acceptable was the way some American fellowships turned up
unexpectedly on, say, a beleaguered Romanian pastor in the middle of
the night with a request for accommodation and food for 25 young
people who have come "to encourage the church". There
might be a telephone call at 4 a.m. from a group never heard of
before, requesting breakfast on arrival at 6.30 a.m. It seems that
telephone numbers are passed around back home and the opportunity is
taken to "do a mission trip". To say that one is involved
in some way in Romania makes your church sound a lot more exciting.
The fact that it's nearly always Romania is because of the publicity
surrounding the ending of the Communist regime on the world's media,
and the suffering involved by so many people. Aid continues to pour
into Romania whereas there are far greater needs in other surrounding
countries such as Bulgaria and Albania, which actually receive very
little aid. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that an awful
lot of "world mission" is media led, not Spirit led.
The Amateurisation of Missions
Peter Hammond, long term missionary to the suffering peoples in war
zones bordering South Africa, writes of his concerns:
the hard realities and desperate needs of the mission field, we are
seeing an increasing amateurisation of mission work. More and more
Christians are pouring into the mission fields but for very short
periods of time and often for very superficial goals.
have been astounded to come across large tour groups (calling
themselves missionaries) travelling across the world just to spend
four or five days 'in the field'. The high cost of international air
travel would seem to make such short visits cost-ineffective.
more incredible is how most of these short termers have undergone no
selection procedure, received no training, and are ill-equipped to
benefit the local believers. In most cases these religious tourists
have a lower grasp of Scripture and a spiritual maturity that is
dwarfed by the local believers to whom they presume to minister.
some obscure reason many Christians seem to think that any church-goer
can be a missionary! The flood of untrained, ill-disciplined,
unaccountable 'lone ranger' so-called missionaries into Third World
countries is disastrous.
don't even know enough of the local culture to realise how much
damage they are doing to the Christian cause.
have seen many female missionaries in slacks or even shorts
ministering in rural Africa. They seem oblivious to the fact that
all the local Christian women only wear dresses. Once a team of 6
American medical missionaries flew out to work with us in Mozambique.
As they arrived in Malawi the two women were detained by police for
wearing slacks. They didn't even have a single skirt between them in
their luggage. We had to go into town and buy some dresses for the
ladies before the police would release them.
Africa it is generally considered a disgrace for a man to have long
hair. This is not only cultural but Biblical 'does not even nature
itself teach you that if a man has long hair it is a dishonour to
him?' 1 Corinthians 11:14.
Yet you will see many long-haired
pony-tailed men heading out to 'evangelise the pagans in Africa'
oblivious to what a stumbling block they are.
have met Christians heading out to the mission field with nose rings,
belly rings, tongue studs, and who knows what other body mutilations.
It is not that these piercings are unknown in Africa or Asia, in
fact every pagan culture practises them, Hindus and Animists in
particular practise body-piercing and tattoos extensively. However,
once converted they repent and turn away from such abominations.
is generally quite easy to tell the difference between a pagan and a
Christian in Africa by how they dress and how they treat their body.
The Scriptures are clear 'you shall not make any cuttings in your
flesh ... nor tattoo any marks on you; I am the Lord.'
Leviticus19:28. Ear-rings on men in the Bible were a mark of
slavery. Exodus 21:6, Deuteronomy 15:17.
can you expect African Christians to respect long-haired men with
pony-tails and ear-rings who presume to come and teach them? I first
came across the term religious tourists in Romania. A pastor
related to me the bizarre story of 89 Californian Christians who had
flown in to 'minister' in Romania. Naturally, none of them spoke
Romanian. Neither did they have transport. They were totally
dependent on their local hosts, whom they presumed they were coming
to help. On Sunday morning they all wanted to speak at the main
service; each was given 2 minutes to bring greetings. So began a
seemingly never ending procession of 89 religious tourists delivering
their greeting through an interpreter with successive camera flashes
accompanying! 'We never saw these people in the dark days of
persecution' declared the Pastor.
a group of 29 Americans and Europeans flew in on a single aircraft to
one location in the Sudan. When asked how long they were going in
for, they proudly announced '2-3 days, maybe even 4'. I could only
stand in amazement at their superficial understanding of what is
needed in missions. 'What do you plan to accomplish?' I asked.
'Oh!' the man answered 'We plan to hand over some relief aid and buy
some slaves!' So this is now what missions are coming to - large
groups of people flying half way across the world to hand over some
relief aid, say a few nice words and set some slaves free, and in
just a few days they fly back home thinking that they are now
have no understanding of the people to whom they are going, they have
never bothered to study the history of the nation or the culture of
the people they say they are sent to. They are untrained,
unprepared, unaccountable, and even unaware of the way the local
people perceive them."
have quoted Dr. Hammond's letter in full. What he describes so
graphically is a very common attitude towards evangelism and mission
by church managers generally. Similar things also happen in England.
Groups of young people going out on missions for a couple of weeks
led by, say, the local Youth Pastor, will be equipped to do little
more than paint the fellowship meeting hall and hand out tracts -
they don't learn much from this sort of experience. The churches in
Bristol recently got a large group of young people together and sent
them to Manchester without any adequate preparation and those I spoke
to ended up clearing rubbish from a housing estate hoping to generate
opportunities to talk to individuals, but very little actual
Christian ministry could take place. It would have been rather more
intelligent to secure the services of specialists in using young
people, such as Operation Mobilisation, who have the experience and
to make an adequate job of these kind of opportunities.
fact, organisations like O.M. which rely on young people to sustain
their various ministries in different parts of the world are severely
hampered by the increasing popularity of Christian festivals such as
Spring Harvest and Green Belt. These enterprises are wonderful
experience for the young people to take part in with excellent
teaching and music, and are a tremendous blessing to many - yet with
the need to raise funds now for University courses, students must
spend part of the summer working, so they can no longer do two
things: most obviously will go for the Christian fun time. Far fewer
of them now ever get missions experience of any kind. This has
affected Open Air Campaigners to a lesser extent - ours is
essentially a training ministry. Our strategy is to spend time
training local Christians in the countries we are seeking to
evangelise, and to provide them with the back-up and equipment they
need to establish on-going, viable ministries. Language and culture
then cease to be a barrier and they can actually reach their own
countries far more effectively.
Bristol School of Evangelism
Loader of Bristol is a Brethren Evangelist with years of experience
on the Hartcliffe housing estate, one of the largest in Europe, home
to people with wide social problems. His years of door to door work
and the establishment of the Teyfant Christian Fellowship on the
estate are a glorious story of faithfulness and perseverance. Graham
was the first person Anni and I visited to discuss the possibility of
starting a ministry in street evangelism in Bristol, rather than
becoming an Anglican vicar. He was a mentor, as was Mike Hencher, an
absolutely wonderful full time Brethren preacher - they did more to
help me get started than anyone else. After a few years, Graham and
I both realised that people coming into evangelism needed a lot more
preparation (particularly in the area of practical skills) than one
could learn in training colleges - so with David Harris and Malcolm
Widdecombe we set up a full time training programme at Pip'n'Jay
church. The Senior Elder of Bristol Christian Fellowship at that
time was Dr. Nic Harding, and he sent us 50 students for our first
year - so altogether we had 65 to teach every day. Over the 6 years
period we ran the School, numbers fluctuated a lot but we helped some
absolutely brilliant young men and women get started in evangelism
and missions much more effectively than would otherwise have been
of these was Ian Loring; another Caralee Albarian from California.
Caralee had been on a mission with us in Bristol for three weeks when
Operation Mobilisation joined us with a team for a "Love
Bristol" campaign. A number of young people were to join O.A.C.
and/or Bristol School of Evangelism as a result of their experience
on the streets that year. Caralee returned to the States and was
back with us five weeks later with all her worldly possessions; a very
mature person with excellent qualifications as a dietician, she had
already done a stint as a a missionary in the Sudan. During her
training Caralee was successful in establishing a fine ministry in a
number of churches and especially in taking assembly
in a substantial number of primary schools in Bristol. However, I
reckoned that Ian was somebody unlikely to get through the course.
He had had a most unhappy life experience to date, clearly had quite
a lot of problems and had only been a Christian about ten days - but
David Harris came to see me and said it was no good my turning him
down, as he had already accepted Ian for the course himself! Ian
wasn't too sure about how to take notes during the lectures, clearly
struggled with a lot of the concepts being taught, and obviously
thought a lot of our methods were pretty daft... So I relaxed in the
knowledge that I had been right all along.
during the second year of the course Ian went on a mission to
Bulgaria which involved taking aid in a large truck to some of the
dreadful orphanages emerging from obscurity thanks to the media.
Next he went with a team led by Caralee to preach on the streets in
Thessaloniki that summer; while there, the dam of oppression in
Albania burst and huge numbers of Albanian refugees poured out of the
squalor of their surroundings into the adjacent countries. The Greek
police corralled several thousand of them in the square in front of
the railway station in Thessaloniki where the Greek churches did a
fine job of feeding them and caring for them and Caralee's team went
and preached to them. Our street work is characterised by the use of
large sketch boards on which we use cartoons and other drawings to
illustrate the message. The bright colours and the live nature of
the presentations do attract a great deal of interest, and
substantial crowds - I think something like twenty or thirty
Albanians became Christians. These men went back to their families
with the Gospel and a desire to win their villages for Christ; a few
months later, after their marriage, Ian and Caralee followed them.
The little local church of about twelve people rapidly grew to over
100 through Caralee's sketch board preaching in the open air - once
to several thousand people at an evening meeting in the local stadium
in Korce. In the next few years, living in a single upstairs room
with no running water, Ian and Caralee learned the language well.
The greatest achievement in my view was their success at
understanding the very complex mores of Albanian culture which still
defeats most missionary efforts in Albania.
and Caralee's move to Erseke, the purchase and reconstruction of the
various church properties there, and all the extraordinary adventures
resulting from their courageous decision to stay in the country
during the 1997 uprising, has given them a love for and a credibility
with the local people unsurpassed in my experience on the mission
field. The vision now is to complete the establishment of 22
churches, many quite large, the training of much greater numbers of
indigenous church leaders, and the necessary training programme to
achieve that, and the handover of local churches to local leadership.
a visit in May 1998 I described what I saw and it's a good
description of what a successful foreign mission looks like and
is a 15-year-old gypsy boy with a short lifetime of begging behind
him. This is of course a rather thin way to make a living in a
country such as Albania in desperate
poverty. However, he acquired fame and developed newfound skills
during the flare-up of violence which spread right across Albania
about a year ago. As this declined, he once again found himself
unemployed. Walking through Erseke one day, Ian found him sitting by
the side of the road and offered him a job on one of his building
sites. Today this lad is bustling around with the other builders,
delivering cement to the block-layers and concreters: he has a pride
in his work, works harder than anyone else, is paid each month just
like the others, and has joined the Youth Group. Ian is known as
"Yanni" to all and sundry, and is a sort of "Lord Jim"
character in this small city of 8,000 people. Everyone wants to talk
to him and he is currently running about five businesses as well as nine
substantial churches, most having an attendance of over 100. He has
the astonishing ability to have got right into Albanian culture to
the point where he knows a large number of families and all that is
going on in their world. He has developed a very large number of
friendships, beyond where the church is at, partly because he and
Caralee stayed there during the troubles (early in 1997 anarchy broke
out due to the public rage at being cheated of life savings in
various pyramid schemes which, as pyramid schemes are wont to do,
collapsed like a house of cards). They played a large part in
quelling the violence when Ian called the townspeople to the Peace
Meeting which stopped the fighting - allso because of the initiative
they took in supplying the hospital with medicines which took Ian and
his team through various terrorist battle lines on the way to the
frontier with Greece on 5 or 6 separate occasions. All of them put
their lives on the line doing this, and when they were trapped in
Albania five or six miles from the frontier, it was only the
intervention of a Greek Special Forces Unit with helicopter gunships
that probably saved their lives.
the villages which number about thirty in the region, where in the
summer the team has an on-going regular street ministry for the
purpose of establishing Bible Study and Prayer Groups in local homes,
we traversed roads which one would imagine no wheeled vehicle could
cope with. Travelling up 1:2 gradients tyre-deep in mud with the
occasional rock outcrop forming a step is a really interesting
these villages Ian and his team are regarded as saviours, largely
because the 4-year-old son of one of the mayors fell from a 3rd floor
window on to concrete last year leaving him paralysed and in a coma,
with his brain hanging partly out of a large hole behind his right
ear. Ian organised a doctor and an Albanian ambulance and got them
across the Greek frontier without any documentation whatever, and
arranged for them to be met at the intensive care unit at St. Luke's
Christian hospital in Thessaloniki. The Director, Dr. Kazarkas, laid
on both his brain surgeons, who then operated on the lad for 48 hours
continuously. They succeeded in putting this little boy's head
together and today his hair has grown over the huge scars at the back
of his head, he has suffered no ill effects whatsoever and was
rushing around the garden of the stone hovel where he lives just like
any other 5-year-old would do.
walked into a little village and met a woman making butter in a
barrel, the old-fashioned way. She didn't understand a word I said
and I couldn't understand her, but was able to meet all the family
and share 45 minutes with them in their living room (about 8 ft.
square) the floor level of which was below ground level. This was a
in mediaeval houses when it was thought desirable to cut out
draughts, when you sleep on the floor. They produced a little glass
of peach Raki which was quite delicious, and with great ceremony some
Russian sweets on a little tray. They had several married daughters
aged 16 or 17 living in adjoining huts, and their 15-year-old
daughter was beside herself to meet somebody from the West and
desperately trying to remember a few English words from school.
Albanian culture means she will have been excluded from education at
about 11-12 years, and will be kept at home until married off to a
local farmer in about a year's time. She was so bright I thought how
sad it is that she should be denied all opportunity of a proper
education and a life of her own. This was a Muslim village where the
Saint Eleanora sect has established a Muslim shrine. She established
her status in Albania by levitating publicly in the air and I would
say demonic forces like this are very evident in the lives of many
Albanians. Probably this accounts for the fact that the guards on
our properties in Erseke have to be on 24 hour rotas and each week
these young men face armed intruders. Everyone still has a
Kalashnikov and one young man with a large pistol attempted to
disrupt a meeting for 102 teenagers I was preaching to, on our final
evening there. Andy, the 20-year-old guard who turned this guy round
and sent him packing, has often faced challenges like this and it is
a measure of the spiritual depth of may of the workers that Ian
employs that they are prepared to risk themselves in this way on a
and Caralee have a profound understanding of the Albanian culture and
how they think. Because the Church is a new entity in the country,
everyone seems to know everyone else even in quite different towns.
Ian is alarmed by the inability of many missionaries to understand
what is going on in their own churches. On occasion he has had to
tell them. Westerners continue to be fleeced left right and centre
and continue to be a ready source of money for the unscrupulous. The
Faith Church in California continues to support the Muslim from Korce
who is divesting them of substantial amounts of dollars. The Dutch
group who founded a bakery in the area unfortunately put the property
in the names of Albanians who had been Christians a very short time,
and now the missionaries have left (because of the troubles) the
entire property was sold by the "Board" to relatives for
$1. This sort of naivety is still seen when so-called evangelists
visit Albanian towns and speak to large crowds of people, many of
whom take leaflets and make "commitments". The evangelists
imagine that revival has broken out when in fact Albanians desperate
for work and keen to meet foreigners will stand around and listen and
will take leaflets in the hope that this will result in some sort of
group, "Every Home Crusade", has a sort of race round the
villages and deposits as many leaflets as they can through letter
boxes: the Albanians regard this as quite a joke. Less funny was the
group who had a meeting in Korce at which they photographed a rather
unusual man standing in the crowd with rather high cheekbones. Last
year this photo was used in a leaflet to publicise the group's prime
objective which is to de-bunk evolution. The photograph of this
unfortunate man was thus distributed in his home town with the
caption "Man or monkey?". He was the subject of ridicule,
had a nervous breakdown,
and has lost his job. Ian's remonstrations with the organisation
concerned led to a lawyer coming from America to assess suitable
damages to be paid to the man and his family and an agreement was
entered into - hardly surprisingly with these sort of people, the
amount promised has not been forthcoming.
sort of activities by people who appear to be either stupid, ignorant
of Scriptural methods, or unscrupulous, are seriously damaging the
efforts of those in the country with long term effective relational
ministries. Many of the people involved in these activities are
graduates of Missionary training colleges in the U.S.A. and one can
only assume these people have no understanding of the kind of public
proclamation ministries which actually win people for Christ and
build God's Kingdom.
and Caralee's current activities involve the reconstruction of the
town's primary school in Erseke where Ian is employing a team of
builders under an engineer to rebuild the walls around the playground
to discourage theft and vandalism, and providing proper facilities in
the building itself which he will completely refurbish. At the
Church Centre he has constructed a sports area with netball and
basketball facilities, he has completed the secure garage for the
Land Rover and over the top is constructing a large brick room with a
tiled roof which will be used as the publishing centre for
translating and publishing Christian books in Albanian. An Oxford
graduate, Dan Baynes, who has a brilliant mind and a profound
facility in Albanian, will help with this. Ian is also re-developing
the large property opposite the Centre, a 4,000 square ft. stone house
which will form accommodation for the School of Evangelism and the
computer skills training centre; this work will be completed during
the summer of 1998.
building operation is led by the Albanian engineer Petrit who has
little understanding of calculating weights and loads, so we need to
show him how this is done. Ian is using the Land Rover to keep a
local taxi driver, Mondi, in business - he lost everything in the
collapse of the "Pyramid" scam. The Erseke dentist is
leaving town and leaving his Christian daughter behind - her name is
Viola, and she is an excellent dental technician. Ian is fixing her
up with accommodation in the Church Centre and our job is to provide
her with the equipment she needs. At the moment she has a really
awful Bulgarian electric drill clamped to a work bench with a sanding
disc, and a piece of mahogany with four 6" nails driven into it
to use as a manipulator to put upper and lower sets together.
Amazingly she produces really first class work in this way!
has also recruited 24 Albanian knitting ladies and has important
large spools of Jaeger dyed wool for them to produce the most
wonderful Arran style jerseys to various designs. The quality of the
work is perfect. The wages for producing a jersey, which takes 2
weeks, amount to $18 which is more than the local monthly wage, so in
a month they can earn about two and a half times what they could
otherwise get. The wool is expensive to import and export of the
jerseys via DHL will also cost a substantial amount. If we can sell
them for $100 in the West the profit will support Ian's Albanian
also has an agricultural project under way and has ploughed 15 acres
of land, part of which we own, up in the mountains. An
agriculturalist is advising on new strains of potato and ways of
getting this poorer land to produce higher yields. Ian hopes this
project will bring under-used local land into use and provide an
income for church workers in the mountain villages. I think he
rather hoped that the representative from Tear Fund who visited the
country recently would be able to assist in this area of work, as
while they were unable to help in the medical emergency at the
hospital due to their extremely long reaction time to emergencies,
they are nevertheless a very good Development Agency with a lot of
the skills we need. However, they chose instead to work with a
Reformed Dutch group living outside Albania whose work in the country
was destroyed in the troubles (in early '97 anarchy broke out in
Albania due to the public's rage at having been cheated out of life
savings in various pyramid schemes which, as pyramid schemes are
wont to do, collapsed like a house of cards).
As these people
have no experience of establishing projects in Albania they have
asked Ian's assistance. He is of course very glad to help. It seems
a pity that Tear Fund's work will not now be anchored in the emergent
services continue to be led by the Albanians themselves; two of
these, Tony and an 18-year-old girl, who have matriculated from the
High School and who have been believers and members of the Youth
Group right from the beginning, are about to apply for University
education in Los Angeles where a relative of Caralee's is Admissions
Director. Tony wants to study Computer Science and Business, and she
wants to be a Doctor.
day as you visit all these activities you see people busily occupied
in all kinds of areas of ministry. Lots of young people throng the
sports area in groups, while others visit the hospitality house where
a delightful American couple (who have retired from business) have
friendship and counselling sessions, taking a terrific amount of
pressure off Ian and Caralee. Mark and Ruth Stoscher (2nd and 3rd
generation Missionary Kids) are graduates of Fuller Seminary in
Pasadena, have now mastered the language and have a terrific teaching
ministry not only for the church but particularly for the indigenous
leadership. Fuller seems to produce people with the kind of
practical skills relevant in front line church planting ministries.
One of the Faculty there designs church programmes for us. This is
of course a terrific help to someone in Ian's situation. He has an
on-going training programme for his 35 church leaders who are
deployed in groups of three or four in surrounding towns. He is
pulling them in to give them further training for about four days every
six weeks. He has asked me to recommend suitable people to assist with
this. Looking round Bristol as I do, there seem to be very few
people with any sort of understanding of front line public ministry
who can actually be of assistance - Graham Loader is a prime example
of someone we would like to have with us in Albania as often as
back on my time there last week, several things occurred to me:
- The depth of
commitment of the Albanian converts.
- Christ really has become the
centre of their lives. Very few of them are salaried yet most of
them are involved in the church's ministry in one way or another.
- There is very rapid
growth taking place
- New people join the Church each week. The
services are designed to bring people into a relationship with Jesus.
Discipleship training is very good. I think the work will double in
size in the next two years and the challenge of producing enough
leaders from the churches themselves will be a very difficult thing
The small premises
for meetings mean that worship sessions take place in people groups.
Sunday morning services are for children, Sunday afternoons for
teenagers and young adults. These services are great fun - the
teenagers particularly have a marvellous sense of humour and there is
a lot of laughter.
Older adults are far
fewer in number than other groups and seem to suffer from a deep
sense of hurt through their experiences of oppression by their old
- Trust, and the ability to relate to one another,
have been severely damaged as a third of them seem to have been
employed as secret police to spy on their own relatives.
himself is now an outstanding Christian leader. A Bristol man, and a
trained accountant, his knowledge of business as well as his deep
conversion experience have produced a man with just the right skills
in just the right place at just the right time. His training at the
Bristol School of Evangelism provided him with the skills and
background which have equipped him for the kind of public
proclamation ministry largely unknown in Bristol nowadays. I think
his story and what he is doing is an epic of the modern missionary
movement. As Paul Alkazraji, O.A.C's Press Officer, said during our
visit: "This is not a newspaper article, it is quite a large
Albanian churches have a sense of direction and purpose which seems
to be lacking here in England. Our rather "religious"
church-centred approach to faith seems to me to be isolating us from
the real lives of the vast majority of people in our society, whereas
in our Albanian churches, faith is at the centre of their lives every
day. Our lack of any sense of mission here at home means that a
project such as the Decade of Evangelism becomes a meaningless
charade without discernible substance. Our lack of responsibility
for the ministries of Missions Agencies means that most of those
going abroad as missionaries need to raise their own support and many
of them end up in partial secular employment to make ends meet. Many
of them even in Western Europe would not be able to run a car. This
is absolutely disgraceful.
is struck by the fact that the burden for the greater part of modern
missions is borne by the Americans, with a few remarkable exceptions
like Ian Loring and Dan Baynes. Groups from the U.K. like Tear Fund
are completely out of their depth and tend to do things
which would appear to be sometimes rather ill-advised. Somehow
British agencies need to become part of the very large network which
is world mission. Frankly, as I speak to many of their
representatives, I find they tend not to know what is going on or who
I write this, Ian and Caralee are with one of their sending churches
in the United States working on a programme to train over 100
Albanian church leaders every 2-3 years; they see the possibility of
establishing about 100 churches every ten years for the foreseeable
future. This is at a time when very few successful church plants are
taking place in Albania that show long term results. The key element
right from the beginning in Korce where the church grew from 12 to
over 100 in just a few months, was taking the Christian message out
on to the streets and preaching it. It was the same story in Erseke,
which is where Ian's main church centres have been established. The
children's open air meetings in the villages each week, the public
preaching actually in the town, and all that followed, have been
activities which have brought people into the Kingdom. Ian and
Caralee and their team are there for the whole town and for the last
2 years Ian has been Chairman of the local Football Club, so he meets
up with a lot of people who are not church members every day.
significant thing to note is that few people became believers and
church members through attending worship services.
to pass on the ministry means that these services are actually led by
church members who form the worship group and preach the messages,
all of course under his direction. This means he can call on 30 - 35
full time church leaders and probably about 100 part timers to lead
the churches' various ministries. However, Ian remains such a key
figure in the community that when he tried to resign the chairmanship
of the Football Club to go on furlough for an extended period, there
was a protest demonstration outside the Church Centre by 200 men who
closed all the surrounding roads and refused to allow him to leave
until he agreed to go and discuss the matter. It was solved by Ian's
agreeing to remain as Honorary President, and an Executive Director
being appointed to do the work!