What has Christianity offered the world? The weekend after 9/11 was the International Aglow Conference in Houston. Thousands of women came from all over the world. Many of their families didn’t want them going to the USA with it being under attack. One from Australia said she had to come and show her solidarity because without the USA entering World War II, they would not have won against the tyranny of Socialism and Nazism, which wanted to take over the world and destroy freedom. One from Japan said that her family begged her not to go, but she had to because the U.S. had come and rebuilt her nation after the war, and missionaries had come to Japan and brought the Light of Jesus. Again and again I was told of the enormous generosity of American Christian groups to help their countries.
I have heard people say, “Why can’t Christians leave people alone? They come in and change the culture.” That’s true, and many of those changes are important.
Seventy years ago, American missionaries Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, and three others sacrificed their lives to help the Huaorani (Auca) tribe in Ecuador. The Aucas were living a life of death and revenge against any who entered the rain forest, and the Ecuadorean military wanted to go in and hunt them down. When the American men were brutally murdered, their wives and children went in unarmed to live among them. Their love and sacrifice brought peace to the tribes, stopped the cycle of revenge and saved the Aucas from extinction.
Because Christians are a People of the Book, wherever they have gone, they set up schools to teach reading and writing. Wycliffe International Translators invent alphabets for those indigenous people who don’t have a written language. Bringing literacy and education to a region has always elevated the people out of poverty.
Mary Slessor, Scottish missionary to Nigeria, was heartbroken that widows were buried alive with their deceased husbands, human sacrifices to idols, infanticide, slavery of Blacks buying Blacks of other tribes, the superstitious murder of twins. She worked tirelessly to bring reform to government and tribal customs to protect women and children.
Missionaries brought the concept of private property, teaching groups new skills, better farming techniques, crafts and carpentry, so they could be independent. Christian doctors have taught that the brutal mutilation of circumcision of 10 year old girls is emotionally and physically damaging. They brought in printing presses to print Bibles, brought in internet to open the world to them, in places such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, where much has been banned.
Jesus first revealed Himself as the Messiah to a Samaritan woman, breaking a long tradition of taboo. He broke down walls of division. Look at Dr. Martin Luther King, walking arm in arm with people of all color, bringing the Gospel of Peace from the Prince of Peace to a Nation greatly divided. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” MLK. ■