Billy Graham Center
Archives


"Sitting Down at the Feast of the Kingdom of God"
Glimpses from the Archives of the Flowering of Southern Christianity




[Expanded version of the talk Bob gave at the Treasures of Wheaton program for alumni on May 8, 2004 in Barrows Auditorium of the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois, United States. Note: some of the images from the talk still need to be linked to this page.]

In the year 325 AD, the Emperor Constantine called the first universal church council to meet in Nicea, what is now the Turkish city of Iznik. The bishops and theologians of the era gathered to represent the church at one of the greatest turning point in its history. It has just moved from persecuted fellowship to an officially favored religion and was starting to deal with the temptations of prosperity.

At this gathering almost seventeen centuries ago, the representatives of the church were almost all Asian or African. Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch were the great Christian centers. Of the hundreds of churchmen present, only seven came from Northern and western Europe. What we now call the west was not particularly important as a source of theology or Christian experience, except for the church in Rome itself.

Now at the beginning of the twenty-first century if it were possible to have another universal and representative church council, Africans and Asians and Latin Americans would make up the majority by a large margin. We are at a point when once again Christianity is expanding rapidly in terms of numbers and influence in newer churches, most spectacularly in African, where Christians went from 8 percent of the population in 1900 to 44 percent in 2000. In terms of population, the center of gravity of the church moved south some years ago. What this will mean in terms of Christian thought and practice in the future we cannot know. But we can study the planting and development and maturing of these great southern churches.

It is an epic story. Anyone wanting an introduction would do well to read Philip Jenkins recent book, The Next Christendom, which was the indirect inspiration of this talk. To see all of this epic is impossible And even to get a good partial understanding is difficult. There are many different vantage points to look from. I am going to give you some glimpses of this story, as seen from documents in the Billy Graham Center Archives. Think of the Archives as a hill from which we can watch a small part of the story. It does not allow us to see too deeply into many of the great indigenous Christian movements or the world wide Pentecostal revival that is almost a century old or the expansion of the Roman Catholic church. But we can still see some amazing scenes.

The first glimpse is of founding. As we know from the New Testament, the seed found good soil in Asia and Africa very early. Ancient Christian traditions tell us of the preaching of the Gospel in India and China soon after the Resurrection. The Gospel was being proclaimed in South America and the Pacific lands by the beginning of the modern age. The church was global long before the great missionary efforts from North America Protestants began. But it was in the twentieth century that in many lands in Africa and Asia particularly that Christians became a significant portion of the population (as is indicated in this multitude waiting for baptism in central Africa in the 1930s) and began to seriously impact their own cultures. Foreign missionaries were a part - an important part but only a part - of this founding of communities of Christian faith . And if you stand at Archives hill, you can glimpse a few scenes of this great work.

William Saunders was a New Zealand missionary to China with China Inland Mission. Here is his personnel card from the mission files. From 1930 until 1951 he worked in Tienshui in Gansu province.. His friend and coworker there, Elder Chao, wrote an account in Chinese of how the Gospel was preached in Tienshui by missionaries, then Chinese Christians, people came to Christ, and a church began. Saunders translated the text into English. Years later, interviewed him at the Overseas Missionary Retirement home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania about his life. He mentioned this document and gave it to the Archives. I will always kick myself for not asking at the time if he had the original Chinese document and would want to put it in the Archives as well. But I didn't and this translation is all we have of the original. Here is how Mr. Saunders described Elder Chao in his interview:



And here is how Elder Chao described the coming of Christianity to his personal corner of the world in 1874, a story for which he himself was largely relying on eyewitness accounts that had been handed down to him:

In a short time, Eaton and Hunter were sent by the mission elsewhere and Mr. and Mrs Parker came to carry on the work.

We have a few, very few, indigenous accounts like Elder Chao's in the Archives. Mostly what we have are the missionary accounts and the missionary pictures of the birth of new Christians, the birth of new churches, such as this photo from Tienshui . Here is a letter by Sarah Alice Troyer, the first American female Mennonite missionary. A graduate of Moody, she went to China in 1895 and soon was working with women. As she wrote in a 1896 letter to her sister,

On to another founding. This is the typed manuscript, written about 1941 describing the first half century of African Inland Mission's work in what was still then the Belgian Congo. It was written by John Stauffacher, who first came to the Congo in 1903 and stayed until his death in 1944. He had seen great things and wanted to record them. It inevitably focuses on the missionary, but still through it we get glimpses of the Congolese fellowship that was growing:



We have many other missionary accounts. And also have the photos, thousands of photos - pictures of street corner preaching, baptisms, tiny new churches. And then the pictures of the first generations of pastors, evangelists, Bible teachers.
  • Standing in the center with a short white beard is Allan Noah Cameron, who spent 45 years in China as a Mennonite missionary. He is holding the tracts he used to print and distribute in Changsha.
  • A worker of the Woman's Union Missionary Society in bobby sox preaching in a village near Jahanabad, India. The picture caption says more than a hundred people stopped to hear.
  • Ian Anderson with a group of other evangelists in 1938 having breakfast before going out to preach in the town of Shenqui.
  • They would use posters like these to attract a group and introduce people to Christianity.

  • Three shots from the Belgian Congo in the 1920s or 30s of
  • the crowds who had professed faith, lived a Christian life for two years and were ready for baptism.
  • They came in multitudes,
  • but entered the Kingdom one by one.


  • And from them came the church.
  • The caption on this photo from Aba, also in the Congo, reads "Church group. The congregation now numbers thousands"

  • And then came the first generation of pastors,
  • such as these in Shantung province China.
  • Indigenous evangelists, such as Lu Kuam Fah.
  • Or these men in central Africa
  • or these Bible school graduates in Tsaohsien, China. The second man from the right in the front row is their missionary teacher, Loyal Barbel.
  • Koli, (also in the previous photo) who traveled 400 miles, pushing his children in a wheelbarrow, to learn to be a Bible teacher.
  • The first North Anwhei, China Short Term Bible School graduating class, 1934,created to address the desperate need for trained leadership which still exists in many of the new churches.
  • A group of Bible women in India about to start out on their day's ministry. The caption on the back says they "are real saints", with "real" underlined



  • Standing on Archives hill, we can see not only the founding, but the transition., a process you can see of this 1920 photo of Edith May seated with Naomi Andrews, one of the evangelist and Bible teacher May trained to succeed her. The new Southern churches that sprang up in the twentieth century were not all or even mostly missionary churches. God found many ways of sowing his word. But many, of course, did count western missionaries among their founders.

    In these churches in Korea and Indonesia and Kenya and Fiji and throughout the southern hemisphere, if indeed the Gospel seed took root, then a moment of transfer had to come, a moment when missionaries ceased to be the leaders, the church fathers, when that role had to be taken over by people were of the culture, of the language, of the people. Elder Chao described such a moment happening very early in the Tienshui church:

    John Adams said the American Revolution occurred in the minds of the American people long before fighting began. Here is an excerpt from Congo missionary John Gration (who also taught missions at Wheaton for many years) in which he described how people have to make Christianity their own before it can flourish in their culture [From Collection 230, T2]:



    In the west, there were criticisms of the missionary effort as a form of cultural imperialism, producing rice Christians or mission station Christians who were primarily interested in the material advantages they gained from association with westerners and who wound up cut off from their own culture. The accusations were certainly not baseless. No doubt in many a newly founded missionary church one could find almost as many mixed motived among church members as exists in the average Wheaton congregation. But the replacement of missionary with national leadership and the growth of the churches thereafter is the best proof of a truly indigenous Christianity, the kind of Christianity that clothes the faith in its culture, as in this Chinese postcard of the birth of Christ.

    Robert Ekvall was a missionary to Tibet in the 1930s. In this interview he talked about how he tried to avoid cutting off the tiny Christian community in one Tibetan village from Tibetan culture [Collection 92, Tape T1]:

    As the churches grew and multiplied, as the pastors and elders were ordained and became leaders of their congregations, the positions of missionaries quickly or not so quickly changed. This was not necessarily always clear in reports received by mission supporters in the United States, for naturally enough the missionaries occupied a central place in the narrative of the mission periodicals and books they received. Here, for example, is a film made for showing in American churches in 1953. It is about the church in Korea, which is mainly shown as a recipient of American help and prayers and which apparently has only a small part to play in winning the lost [Collection 225, Film F36 Morning Calm:

    The narrator mentioned that at the time of the film, about 3 percent of the country were professing Christians. Today the percentage is almost 41%

    But in the new churches themselves, if they were healthy, quickly developed their own spiritual life and walk and traditions. This is missionary Paul Stough talking about a church board of discipline in Blukwa in the Belgian Congo in the 1940s [Collection 89, Tape T1]

    The transition from missionary to national leadership in the church occurred in many ways, at the individual level, the congregation level, the national level. In China, of course, western missionaries were by and large expelled by 1951, no matter how prepared or unprepared the churches were. The years that followed brought many waves of persecution, but also an explosion in the size of the church. The Archives has many documents and oral history that describe the violent break and the leadership roles then taken by men like Wang Ming Tao, despite persecution including decades in prison. In 1950 there were approximately 5 million Christians in China. In 2000, by the best estimate, there were almost 90 million.

    In most countries, the transition was something worked out within the fellowship. In the early 1970s, when Latin America Mission divided into a number of autonomous national organizations sharing the same mission and vision called Comunidad Latinoamericana de Ministerios Evangelicos (translated Community of Latin American Evangelical Ministries or CLAME), it was in response to growing demands for less foreign control and more national leadership in the countries of Latin America. The Archives has hundreds of pages of documents on the consultations, drafts of plans and redrafts of plans for the change. Here is the letter from Horace Fenton to North American supporters describing the beginning of the process when it was inaugurated in 1971, [Collection 236, Box 70, Folder 8. Letter dated February 15, 1971]

      I believe we are learning something of the plan of God for our day; something that will enable His church to move forward in new ways; something that will get the Gospel more quickly, more effectively to those who need it; something that may help to establish, in many parts of the world, a better working relationship between national churches and missionary organizations.

    Ultimately, the CLAME structure proved itself to be transitional and dissolved in 1986. Although it had functioned as expected and not all of the national partners survived, those that did became evangelism and mission agencies in their own countries, with a continuing partnership relationship with LAM-USA. And the LAM model served as a model to many similar North American faith missions.

    The sudden expulsion of Western missionaries from China represented one type of transition. The carefully planning of the under a relatively brief time frame Latin America Mission was at the other end of the spectrum. Most transfers of leadership from missionaries to the national church took place somewhere in between. Some transitions starting taking place almost immediately, others involved a variety of pushing and pulling and strife. Here is an artifact of transition, a smeary carbon copy of a verbatim transcript of a speech made by Bishop Yeremiyah Kisula to a congregation of the Africa Inland Church in Kola Ndoto in Tanginyika, what is today Tanzania. The Africa Inland Mission, which had planted the earliest churches in Tanzania and the Synod of the Africa Inland Church or AIC, the national church which had grown up, were in the midst of defining their new relationship. On the platform beside him was William Maynard, who had been one of the earliest AIM workers in Tanzania. Here is the Tanzanian view, as stated in excerpts from his speech [Collection 81, Box 28, Folder 1]:

      I am very glad for the privilege of being here at K.N.[Kola Ndoto] today, because K.N. is really the foundation of the AIC - here is where the Church is the strongest and has been since its origin. We all say and believe this.. Furthermore, we all know and acknowledge before God that the AIC came into existence and was guided and cared for in its infancy by missionaries of the AIM and we have one of her founders sitting here with us today. He not only toiled and cared for the Church under the AIM, but is still working for the AIC - Baba Pastor [William] Maynard has laid down his life for us Africans and Baba [probably Charles] Hess is another one. Now you must be patient. I should take at least three days to tell you what I am now going to relate all in this afternoon. But you must persevere with me because I am here for you sakes. Listen carefully while I read to you from this constitution and By-laws of the AIC Your Church. - Now, before I read I want to talk a little of the time before the church was turned over to us by the AIM The first missionaries found us all in the state and realm of darkness that we heard about this morning. They preached to us the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we believed on Him. We walked together with the missionaries in full Christian fellowship many years. We never even though, much less sought for self rule, nor did we later on ask for it. Now you get this straight because you are hearing and talking also yourselves - saying the v has become a church of many words. Why the heads are actively engaged in building up enmity between the AIM missionaries of the AIC Christians instead of caring for the Church. This is a big lie! We have not rebelled, nor do we want to rebel against the missionaries. On the contrary, we need them today more than we ever needed them and we want them.

      On January 22, 1938, the church became autonomous and it became so in this way - - the missionariesof the AIM gave it to us. We did not seek it, nor were we asked if we wanted it. We were not called to sit in any of the sessions where this word was discussed, but the missionaries did it all themselves. They simply came to the realization under God that we were ready and able to care for our own church. We were the very first church in all of Tanganyika to become autonomous. Up until that time the pastors and teachers and received money from America for their wages. Some received 10/ per month, some 8/ , some 6/, some 12/. But in 1938 we were told by the AIM there will be no more money coming for you from America - the church must now be self supporting! We said all right, we have no word. If the missionaries trust us like that and see that we are mature enough for this work, we accept it. There were four pastors then - then five more were added. The pastors didn't apply for the work, but the missionaries under God, saw certain ones among the Christians and felt they could do the work of a pastor so they called him to do the work of a pastor. Even after the church became autonomous there was no change in the relationship with the missionaries; we all worked together in harmony for the Lord. We stopped getting our wages from America, the Missionary continued to get his, but we did the same work together. We said it was "bahati" the missionary receives - we no and to this day we get no salary - but feed ourselves.

      In 1957 the name of the Church was changed to AIC to be the same as the Church in the other countries of Congo - Uganda - Kenya. The first name before changing was "Eklesia Evangeli eya Kristo". Then we elected officers for the rule of the AIC. The Head of the ruling body was to serve four years - the others 2 years. We were warned now it is not fitting for the Church to have a "Head" like the POPE or Bishop, but all are Christians alike. Eve so, any fellowship must have a leader. I was chosen and elected to be the leader - was given the name "Director". True, I am first and foremost a Christian, but I have also a responsibility as the Director of the AIC

      In that year, 1957, the missionaries refused to come under the rule of the AIC The said "no" we are members of a church in the homeland, which of course, we knew was true, but we couldn't understand why they couldn't be ruled by the AIC while out here. In 1960 the issue had become stronger and the refusal of the missionaries were more adamant. In 1961 we became more awake to our responsibility in the care of the church through our reading and understanding better what our Constitution said. Remember the Constitution was drawn up by the missionaries of the AIM and handed to us for our acceptance which we did. We decided that it was time for us to draw up some rules and regulations to help us in our self-rule. We spoke freely with the ruling body of the AIM telling them our aims - our fears - and what we felt was necessary as a safe-guard for the Church -especially in getting to know the missionaries. Mind you, we had no fears or cause to question any of the older missionaries - we knew them well, but we felt we should make a way to enable us to know the new ones, and the only way we knew was to ask questions. So we drew up a form which we submitted to our brethren of the ruling body of the mission. They said what we had written down didn't sound good in English - so they helped us express ourselves so as to be acceptable in English. There was not an acceptance of the form. First there was doubt on the part of the missionaries. Then they said we can't accept this form because our leaders at home refuse us. Well, there was an increase in tension between us and the missionaries, because we felt and still do feel that we have to now the missionaries who work for the AIC - because we are held responsible in our self-rule. It is true is it not that in every department the head of the department has the liberty and is under obligation to ask question of all those who work in his department. We couldn't understand why our questions were objectionable.

      In 1968 the Education department and the Evangelism department were handed over to the AIC together with the money and the administration of it and the heads of these departments which were missionaries were displaced by members of the AIC But the Medical Department and the Literature Department - the AIM refused to turn over - even after the motion had been made and carried - but they refused. This indeed did increase the tension building up between us. Furthermore they said we will call the missionaries who are home on furlough to come back even though we had refused unless they fill in our form. They said the missionaries will come anyway because they are workers in the departments that have not been turned over to the AIC Well such matters troubled us greatly. Then we remembered that the missionaries of the AIM have those who have authority over them; so we wrote a letter to the CFC [Central Field Council of the AIM], stating our grievances. In December 1963 they came to Tanganyika - listened to both sides of the issue in real Christian sympathy. They came to the conclusion and said the AIC is without fault in this matter, but the missionaries of the AIM are at fault. The missionaries acknowledged their fault and asked our forgiveness, which we of course granted. Fellowship was coming back again! The CFC said, "But our brothers, there is just one thing which you have which is not good - - that is the Form - drop that altogether. We cannot accept that." "Well," we said, "If it is not good in your eyes, we here have no desire to keep anything that hinders our fellowship one with the other, but this Form was made up in the Synod so we will have to refer your request to those." The CFC agreed. When we took it to the Synod, they refused with strength - saying the form must stay. Now, this is the only word between us at present - all the other matters are straightened out.

      In January 1964 we sat with our brethren the F.C. in a joint meeting in perfect fellowship - discussed and decided in unison all that was put before us. The two remaining departments were handed over to us in true Christian fellowship. All the work belongs to the AIC now - the hospital, the press, the Bible School, all book shops, Bible club, educational, evangelistic depts. We had no difficulty finding and AIC member and making him responsible [unclear] of the education work, or the evangelistic work turned over to us. But when we looked at the hospital and the press - we know that there was not one African in our whole church who could take over those departments. So we just turned to our missionary brethren and said you manage those departments for us until we are able to do so ourselves - when that will ever be, I don't know! Many I now have had no training, but hose who have had do not accept the responsibility on is fitting for those in self-rule. Now is the time to wake up! Each one of those departments should have an African Manager. We did give the present missionary managers African Assistants asking that they be trained for managerial work. We know that there is such money involved in carrying on the work of the hospital and the prose and the sources are many from which this money comes. The AIC does not expect to meddle with this like drawing money from a fund to build a church etc.

      We only desire to know what comes in and from where and how much is spent and for what. We know the present managers are very busy, but we would like a monthly financial report - maybe the assistants could do this. All undesignated money of the AIM has been turned over to the AIC and we have it in our account. We have everything now! There is just this one word that is between us - the Form. The missionaries refuse to fill it in. We don't know why they can't since we are autonomous and all the work is ours and they are now working for the AIM and we must keep them on - we want them - we need them.

      The heads of the AIM met in Congo just now. I don't know the reason for their meeting, but maybe it was about "the Form" - since they are the ones who are refusing the missionaries to fill it. Maybe they will come to us and say, "Look here, we absolutely refuse your form and since you won't give it up like we asked you to we will just take our missionaries, leave you to your own devises - good-bye!" That would certainly be a death blow to us and the work. We don't want it to be like that - we want more missionaries - old ones to stay on - new ones to come out - doctors - nurses - mechanics - carpenters. Brethren pray God to help us, to help the missionaries - that they may see how vital the form is to us.

      Long ago it wouldn't have mattered - we trusted everyone. If a missionary came to us we called him "Pastor" and "Hangi" without any question at all. We just knew he was that because he came from "bulaya". But now it is different, we must ask each one who wants to work for the AIC questions. We do now know all missionaries are not the same - some are good and some are bad. Some are ordained ministers - some are not. The AIC must know because she is responsible for all the work ruled by her.


    The tensions and difficulties are obvious from Bishop Yeremiyah' speech. But fellowship, though strained, was never snapped and a new relationship emerged. Here is a missionary view. This is from an interview with William Stier, a Bible teacher and AIM missionary to Tanzania who knew Bishop Kisula:[From Collection 479, Tape T2]

    Today Tanzania has one of the fast growing churches in the world. In 1900 there were some 92,000 professing Christians in the country. Today there are 16 million, about 50% of the population.

    The explosion in church growth meant that in many parts of Asia, Africa and South America there was a desperate need for trained leadership, which meant there was a need for seminaries and Bible schools. In the 1960s and 70s and 80s, many American mission agencies and Christian schools cooperated with churches in other countries in TEE projects - Theological education by extension. The Archives has dozens of boxes of the short, busy career of CAMEO - The Committee to Assist Missionary Education Overseas, later the Committee to Assist Ministry Education Overseas. Although it was not its original focus, CAMEO soon came involved in arranging for theologians, Bible professors and other Christian educators to hold special abbreviated classes in theology and doctrine in parts of Asia, Africa and South America where there were not sufficient Evangelical seminaries to handle the need for trained Christian workers.CAMEO leaders Ruth McKinney and Will Norton (who were also Wheaton faculty) were seemingly continually traveling to arrange classes, recruit teachers, assist existing schools, and assist in setting up theological education associations. Toward the end of its roughly quarter of a century of existence. CAMEO was more and more involved in encouraging theological schools to work together regionally to enforce standards and to meet local needs. Some of the seeds sown by CAMEO in the twentieth century will be great supports of the church in their countries in this century. (This is one of the first graduating classes of the Biblical Seminary of the Philippines.)

    Finally from our archives hill we can see a little of the impact and activities of the mature southern churches. Here you see a brochure for the Evangelical Mission Society, which has been founded by Evangelical Churches of West Africa and is symbolic of the flourishing mission activities of southern churches. As is this picture: In 1975, the same year the BGC Archives started, the inaugural meeting of the Asian Missionary Society was held in Seoul, Korea.

    The work of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which built on the centuries that had gone before, has played its part in founding the southern communities of faith that are now going forth to sow. And from our archives hill we can glimpse something of the lives of these churches and of their part in the universal church.

    Look, for example, at Collection 338, the records of the World Evangelical Fellowship, now the World Evangelical Alliance. The records in this collection tell the story of the Fellowship from its founding in 1951 down to the 1990s. The Fellowship was made up of national Evangelical associations in different countries. In its first meetings, fellowships from the southern hemisphere were not infrequently represented by Western missionaries and the first seven triennial congresses, with one exception, was always in either Europe or the United States. But by the mid eighties the growing influence of Asian, African and Latin America churches was reflected in the WEF congresses, held in Singapore in 1986 and the Philippines in 1992, were more truly drawing on diverse traditions in worship and fellowship. Here is the WEF's executive committee in the mid 1990s. The commissions of the WEF struggled to find a unified expressed of the many fellowships Evangelical theology and Christian practice. The records of these congress include many reports of the witness and struggle of Christians around the world. [At this point excerpts were played from tape T20 of Collection 338, with reports given at the 1986 General Assembly]:

    And then there are the files of the Lausanne movement. In 1974, under the sponsorship of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a congress of Evangelical church leaders was held in Lausanne Switzerland to talk about how to work together to witness to Christ to all the peoples of the world.. From the Congress came the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. The Archives has a wide array of , publications, personal papers and interviews, besides the official papers of the Congress and the Committee, that tell the Lausanne story. The many commissions, consultations, congresses and other meetings present a fascinating image of the church in our time. The influence and leadership of the southern churches are clearly seen in many of the debates to forge statements the social responsibility of the church, the Gospel and culture, and the lifestyles of the Christian, just as in the early councils of church history one can see the influence of the European churches growing over the traditional and established centers of the Church in Antioch and Alexandria.

    Ian Hay, an American, was for many years a leader of the mission SIM International. Here is an extract from his interview, illustrating the growing impact of Southern Christians on the thought and practice of the church outside their own regions. Hay is talking about his friend Byang Kato, an African pastor, church leader and theologian who helped the Evangelical Church of West Africa and became secretary general of the continent wide Association of Evangelicals in Africa and Madagascar [Collection 503, Tape T5]:

    Besides these macro themes, the Archives also has materials that document the lives of individual southern Christians. The Billy Graham Center every year gives out several scholarships to the Wheaton College Grad Schools to nonNorth American Christian workers in their twenties, thirties or forties. And every the Archives interviews two, three or four of these scholarship recipients about their lives - their family background, how they came to know the Lord, their education, their faith, their ministry, their future plans, and their view s on the church in their country. Taken together, these interviews are at least a stab at collective biography of the church in our times.

    Some of these interviews tell of the missionary waves that are rolling from Africa, Asia and South America. There is the oral history interview of Jarvas DeSilva, a missionary from Portuguese-speaking Brazil to the former Portugese African colony of Mozambique. He describes how he was first thought to think of missions when a group of Angolan pastors visited his Bible school (Angola was another Portugese colony) and described the needs of their young churches. Or Tien Fock Leong, who described the strengths and weaknesses of the church in Malaysia and his own work among college students with Campus Crusade for Christ.

    Or John Bubelwa Lutembeka. He was one of five laymen who started the Big October Crusade movement in Tanzania, which now every year holds popular non-denominational evangelistic rallies around the country. Here is an excerpt from his interview; [Collection 595, Tape T3, not yet processed]

    In 1983, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association held its first International Conference of Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam. This brought together from all over the world people who were actually involved every day in evangelism. The meeting inevitably reflected the huge part that the southern churches now play in the life of the universal church. I am going to close with two glimpses from that meeting. One is some reaction comments from Romy Romulo, an evangelist from Indonesia that show on the one hand his concern for Christian brothers in other parts of the world and on the other his own believe in training up others in the Christian faith [From Collection 253, Video V68]:

    Finally, an example of some of the leaders who are now coming from the southern churches. This is a brief clip from a talk by Bishop Festo Kivengere of Uganda, a church that had suffered great persecution during the rule of Idi Amin. Bishop Kivengere talked about the importance of reconciliation between brothers in the life of church and in evangelism. Even in these brief comments, you can hear his vision of the arms of the cross embracing all the fellowship of believers [From Collection 253, Video V48]:

    The Archives hill is only a hill. There are other vantage points from which to look into the past and get different and perhaps deeper insights. And from our archives hill, we can only predict the past, not the future. But we can go somewhere else to look into the future.

    Here is the picture we find in Luke 13:29: "People will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down at the feast in the Kingdom of God. Then those who are now last will be first and those who are now first shall be last."

    And in Revelation 7:9 we read: "After this I looked and saw an enormous crowd - no one could count all the people. They were from every race, tribe, nation and language, and they stood in front of the throne and of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palm branches in their hands."

    From our archives hill we can see a little of the struggles, sorrows, joys and failures and graces that are starting to build to that final great climax. Our physical documents can only tell very poorly a story that is physical and spiritual and even for the physical side, our documents tell falteringly only a tiny sliver of a great universal epic. But in a drop of water you can see the ocean. and looking back you can see the end of the journey in the beginning. I hope that these few minutes standing on Archives hill have helped catch a glimpse, despite fragmentary records and human fallibility, of the beginning of the next era in church history that is another step to that heavenly scene.


    Return to BGC Archives Home Page

    Last Revised: 5/8/04
    Last Revised: 1/5/05
    Expiration: indefinite

    Wheaton College 2005