Here’s a series of short articles (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) on the death of ten missionaries in the middle of the 1900s in South America. It is interesting to read this perspective on why these deaths probably were not necessary, but rather a waste. It is probably not a popular view.
Here’s a line that sticks out at me from the third article.
Jim Elliot’s team in Ecuador was afraid of attracting too much attention to their efforts in the jungle, because they thought that too many outsiders would serve to further alienate the Aucas. For this reason, they were extremely secretive with their plans, going so far as to use a code to prevent leaking the details. Unfortunately, this commitment to secrecy kept them from sharing their plan with some of the people that may have guided it to a better end.
The nail in the coffin was a mission board that prided itself on letting the missionaries do whatever God ‘led’ them to do. From all I can tell, there was virtually no accountability. Three of the missionaries were with a mission board that reminded the missionaries that they were not answerable to any man – only to God.
In missiology and church growth, there is a common belief that the older generation has had their day and their mindset and methods not only no longer work, but that are not even to be considered as having legitimate perspectives on present day ministry.
It is true that the older generation is, at times, a bit stuck in their ways and unwilling to consider the possibility of generational shift. This is (perhaps) one factor in the post I made recently about churches. “We have always done this” becomes the mantra of a church that is slowly dying, or at least only maintaining.
But it is equally true that there is much more to missionary strategy than youthful energy and zeal, with “outside the box” thinking.
Young people would be wise to seek (and actually consider) the input of the “grizzled veterans.” Those lines in their faces and the gray in their heads did not come from vacations at the beach. They came from time served in the trenches.
Your good ideas may simply be recycled nonsense. It may not be. But it won’t hurt you to ask. It may save you a lot of grief if you direct some of your energy toward asking someone who has been there before.
It usually helps to have some experienced eyes to look things over with you.