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.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Welsh Mission Diminished

The Welsh Mission Diminished

LONDON, April 18, 2006
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(CBS) There was a time, a hundred years ago and more, when committed
Christians from our little island carried the gospel to every
obscure corner of the globe. We were famous for it, clocking up
converts in dry deserts and on bleak mountain peaks.

The colonizing ambitions of Great Britain were one thing, but the
tide of evangelism was flowing for us too. Whether or not it did us
any good in the long term is another question. But, continent by
continent, we spread the word and took the message worldwide.

In 1904, for example, the people of Wales - three hundred miles to
the west of here - were considered our most enthusiastic
missionaries. With their love of song and their musical voices they
packed the pews wherever they went.

At that time the Welsh were building new chapels and churches at a
rate of ten every week - enough to make Billy Graham jealous. And
Welsh passion in the pulpit made them sure-fire exports. Soon
fervent Welsh preachers were packed aboard Eastern-bound ships
headed for the colonies, and particularly the vast sub continent of
India.

Up to the hills in the North East they treked, braving extremes of
climate and disease, to tame the natives of Mizoram and bring the
word of the Lord to the most obscure people. It worked. The Mizos,
Indian hill-tribesmen, still claim a powerful allegiance to the
Christianity they learned all those years ago. And they still regard
the Presbyterian Church of Wales as their "Mother" Church.

Today, only one in ten Welshmen go anywhere near a church or chapel.
The buildings themselves are either falling down or already
converted into private homes. Wales is fast becoming as heathen as
North East India used to be. And the Mizos have just spotted it and
decided to take action.

Which is why, if you visit the town of Mysteg in South Wales today,
you can book in for a reviving yoga session in the local chapel.
There, cross legged on the floor, you will probably meet the
Reverend Hmar Sangkhuma. He has already made that long journey from
North East India. He brought his wife and family too. He is now a
missionary in what was the very heartland of Welsh Presbyterian
Christianity. He has even developed a slight Welsh accent.

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