The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Asian Baptists Conclude that Poverty Fuels Evangelism

The Biblical Recorder
North Carolina
Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005

Asian Baptists are increasing their efforts in evangelism and are supporting the Christian church in China, Baptist World Alliance (BWA) officials said.

Denton Lotz, the general secretary of the BWA, issued a statement with details of a recent trip to Japan with BWA president Billy Kim. Lotz then traveled to Thailand for a meeting with officials from the Asian Baptist Federation (ABF).

"Asian Baptists are on the move," Lotz said. "They have assumed the mantle of evangelism and are doing outstanding work in areas where Western missionaries could not go."

Lotz and Kim met with officials from the five Baptist conventions in Japan. All have intensive plans of evangelism, Lotz said. The conventions have a total of about 50,000 baptized believers, he said.

The Baptists leaders discussed why the Japanese have been resistant to the Christian message compared to other countries in Asia. Materialism and secularism were likely reasons, Lotz said.

Lotz heard a report by the director of evangelism and mission of the Baptist Church of Mizoram, a group representing about 75,000 baptized believers. Mizoram is in Northeast India between Bangladesh and Burma.

"The growth of the Mizo work and their missionary zeal is a sign of what mission in the 21st century will look like," Lotz said.

The effort of the Baptist Church of Mizoram is one of several significant Baptist movements in "World A," the unevangelized areas of the world, Lotz said.

"There are the Nagas, the Mizos, the Chins, Karens, Kachins of Burma and many other Baptist tribal groups who have come to Christ," he said. "They are leading the way in evangelizing, often without Western help or leadership."

Lotz said the 465 Baptist churches in Mizoram support 436 home and foreign missionaries among 24 different tribes. The Mizo Baptists also have 52 mission schools with 5,000 students, he said.

The churches annually collect about $875,000 for missions, an amount that equates to every 169 church members supporting one missionary.

"I believe that the rich Christians of the West have much to learn from the stewardship of the Mizo Baptists," Lotz said.

Lotz said he heard "outstanding reports" from Chinese Baptists living in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand about tremendous growth of the church in China. The ABF Executive Committee unanimously approved a resolution saying that it is proper to work through the China Christian Council. The ABF, along with the BWA, looks forward to continued good relations with Christians in China, Lotz said.

Lotz also met with Lahu Baptist leaders. The Lahus are one of many tribal groups in Northern Thailand.

Lotz said that 16,000 of the 100,000 Lahus are Baptists. They have more than doubled their membership in the last 10 years, he said.

"Many of the Lahus ... suffer from lack of education and poor health, as well as exploitation of their young women," Lotz said.

A Baptist center in the area seeks to be a beacon of hope to many abused young women who have been exploited in the Bangkok sex trade, he said.

Lotz said Baptist missionary work in Chiang Mai, Thailand is an "outstanding example of cooperation among Baptist mission agencies," Lotz said.

"The American, Australian, Swedish, and British Baptists work together," he said. "There is a beautiful spirit of cooperation with the national leaders."


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