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  Wikipedia: Missionary

Wikipedia: Missionary
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

A Missionary is a propagator of religion (see History of Christian Missions), a representative of a religious community who works among those outside of that community. The English word "missionary" is derived from Latin, the equivalent of the Greek-derived word, "apostle".

Jewish Missions

In modern times, Jewish teachers repudiate proselytization. One basic argument is that all people have the law of God in their heart to a limited degree, and that to teach them more would be to make them responsible for more. That is, they would start as virtuous gentiles, protected by their ignorance, but after contact with a jewish mission they would be in danger from judgement by the Heavenly Court.

Christian Missions

According to the documents of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, the Biblical authority for missions begins quite early in Genesis, 12:1-3, in which Abraham is blessed so that through him and his descendants, all the "peoples" of the world would be blessed. Others point to God's wish, often expressed in the Bible, that all peoples of the earth would worship Him. Therefore, Christian missions go where worship is not, in order to bring worship to God.

In this view, the early historical Jewish mission is that of being a people placed on the world's major trade routes where they could proclaim the Creator God that blessed them. This view is confirmed in many OT scriptures, (cf. Exodus 19:4-6, Psalm 67) as well as the nature of the temple (its outer court was "the court of the gentiles").

Several teachers including, John R. W. Stott, believe that a prominent prophecy in the OT often unfolds continually and is certainly manifested in three situations, an immediate historical situation following the prophecy, a church-based intermediate situation, and an eschatelogical, end-of-time situation.

Given that Gen 12:1-3 is such a prophecy, these teachers understand missions to be a continual work of God to increase His glory. It is said to manifest first as the blessings of Abraham particularly in ancient Israel, peaking in the time of Solomon and damaged by the Jewish disobediences, including the modern refusal of jews to proselytize. The intermediate situation is said to manifest in the christian church. Basically, since Abraham was adopted by faith before his circumcision, his blessing and mission has been extended to all who have faith in God (See Romans and Ephesians). The ending situation is said to be described in Revelation, in which multitudes of believers "of every nation, tribe and language" will worship in a place fed by "living waters."

One of the most famous New Testament missionary verses -- called the Great Commission -- in in the Gospel of Matthew 28:18-20, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...".

Some authorities teach that as soon as every distinct "nation" has been reached with the gospel, the work of missions will be complete. In this view, "nation" is taken to mean a distinct cultural group, not a political entity.

In the past Christian missionaries sometimes worked hand-in-hand with colonialism, for example during European colonization of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Sometimes, they have damaged those cultures and led natives to aculturation. On the other hand, missionaries have sometimes been the agents of saving cultures from destruction by economic and political forces.

Early on, there were notable exceptions to imperialistic missionaries. Those exceptions include Jonathan Edwards, the well known preacher of the Great Awakening, who was driven from his church in his later years. He became a missionary to the Housatonic Native Americans and a staunch advocate for them against cultural imperialism.

One solution was the creation of segregated "praying towns" of Christian natives. This pattern of grudging acceptance of converts was repeated in Hawaii later when missionaries from that same New England culture went there. In Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Catholic missionaries selected and learned among the languages of the Amerindians and devised writing systems for them. Then they preached to them in those languages (Quechua, Guarani, Nahuatl) instead of Spanish to keep Indians away from "sinful" whites. An extreme case were the Guarani Reductions, a theocratic semiindependent region established by the Jesuits.

Modern missionaries and missionary societies have repudiated cultural imperialism, and elected to focus on spreading the gospel and translating the bible. Sometimes, missionaries have been vital in preserving and documenting the culture of the peoples they live among.

Often, missionaries provide welfare and health services as a good deed or to make friends with the locals.

The word, "mission", is often applied to the building in which the missionary lives and/or works.

Christianity is declining in some parts of Europe. Therefore, missionaries from Korea, the U.S and Africa often evangelise the Europeans.

Evangelical Christians in Europe and North America now focus on what they call the "10/40 window," a band of countries between 10 and 40 degrees north latitude and reaching from western Africa through Asia. It's an area that includes 35% of the world's land mass, 90% of the world's poorest peoples and 95% of those who have yet to hear anything about Christianity.

Mormon missionaries

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the most active modern practitioners of missionary work. The Church strongly encourages their young men to devote two years to missionary work, most of which is spent proselytizing. Young men are eligible to serve missions when at least 19 years of age but no older than 26 and not married.

Young women may also serve missions, but are not expected to do so. Young women must be at least 21 years old to serve missions and only serve for an 18 month period.

Newly called missionaries attend a short training period at one of the Church's Missionary Training Centers (MTC). The largest MTC is located in Provo, Utah adjacent to BYU (some of the housing for the MTC is, in fact, old BYU dorms). Missionaries serving English-speaking missions spend three weeks at the MTC and are trained in the use of proseletizing materials and taught expected conduct. Missionaries bound for foreign-language missions spend longer periods at the MTC—six weeks—in order to learn the language. During this period, they are encouraged not so speak in their native tongue, but rather immerse themselves in the new language. Other MTC compuses exist in other parts of the world for missionaries serving in their native countries outside the US. MTCs and their teaching methods have been studied by various organizations because of the rapid ability of the missionaries to learn a foreign language in the setting. Often, missionaries are fluent in the language they study at the end of the six-week period.

In the past, the Church expected all young men to serve missions regardless of marrital status. Today, the church no longer expects young married adults to serve missions.

Older, retired couples are also encouraged to serve missions and may serve as long as they desire (typically from one to two years). Many older couples have been known to serve several consecutive missions.

Besides proselytizing missionaries, the Church also has a strong welfare missionary program. The missionaries who serve these types of missions serve in poor and third world countries and do not actively proselytize. Regular proselytizing missionaries may engage in welfare activities and community service from time to time.

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