The interaction of Missionaries to the Preborn with the World’s Largest Mission’s Conference
In the mid 1990’s, Missionaries to the Preborn applied to purchase a booth at the largest missions conference in the world. The conference is run by InterVarsity Fellowship and is called Urbana. About 20,000 Christian college students from over 30 countries around the world attend.
Even though we met all the requirements of InterVarsity in order to be accepted as a bonafide mission – how we were organized; our doctrinal beliefs; the number of missionaries; etc. – we were rejected. InterVarsity informed us that we were rejected because they did not view our targeted people group – the preborn – as a legitimate people group.
They did not view a mission to “the preborn” as legitimate – even though Christianity has always affirmed the humanity of the preborn child and has always affirmed abortion to be murder. We were stunned. We remonstrated with Inter-Varsity numerous times trying to get them to see why their position was flawed. To no avail.
Meanwhile, two groups had booths at the conference whose ministry was to save trees!
The silver lining in this was that experts estimate that if you have a booth at a conference about 35% will come by it. But if you are outside at the entrances, about 100% will see you. We decided to go and we stood outside with our photographs of the preborn and passed out our literature entitled – “Are Preborn Babies a People Group Worthy of Our Ministry?” And we have gone ever since.
On December 27th and 28th, 2018 we were once again out at Urbana – which is held in St. Louis – with our literature and photographs of the preborn. We encountered once again a lot of indifference. The indifference is affirmed and fueled by what InterVarsity teaches about missions and the work of missionaries.
We do not go to Urbana to attack or condemn InterVarsity, however, rather we go to reach the students who attend. To put the preborn and the great evil they are suffering on the student’s radar screen.
And here is our great objective – we appeal to the students by pointing out to them that it has been the action of missionaries down through the ages to confront great evils in the lands where they bring the Gospel. This is a long-standing heritage of missionaries. The history of missionaries is one of confronting great evils they encounter in the lands they have brought the Gospel.
I could spend hours going through 2000 years of Christian history where missionaries who when they went to other lands confronted the idols and tyrants – the great evils of the land.
Let me just share a few examples from the more recent past.
English missionaries, John and Alice Harris, confronted the great evil they encountered when they went to the Congo in the early 1900’s. In the early 1900s, colonialists used forced labor to extract rubber from the Congo’s jungles—and villagers who resisted were castrated, burned, or had limbs cut off. The Harris’s took photos of this injustice. They then traveled throughout the United States and Britain disseminating photos and giving lectures detailing the abuses. Their efforts greatly hindered the injustices taking place there.
William Carey lived from 1761 to 1834. He is known as the ‘father of modern missions.’ He was a missionary to India. Once there, he encountered the practice of Sati which is widow burning – where a wife is burnt alive with her husband’s body after he has died.
When Carey encountered this great evil he was not indifferent. He reported 438 incidents of this practice in the year 1803 just in a 30 mile radius of Calcutta. Due to his influence and other missionaries – both teaching Scripture and taking action – the practice was outlawed and eventually died out completely.
And what about the missionaries who stood with the Cherokees against the great injustice they suffered? Did you even know there were missionaries who were arrested and jailed for disobeying the unjust laws of men made against the Cherokees? One was Samuel Worcester who lived from 1798 to 1859. He was a missionary to the Cherokees in Georgia. Gold was discovered on the Cherokee lands and greedy men wanted it. They passed numerous laws to unjustly treat the Cherokees and seize their property.
A law was also passed that whites could not be in Cherokee territory unless licensed by the state to be there. This was not meant to make sure white men were protected against the Indians – rather it was meant to ensure that the missionaries were removed from the Cherokee area so the injustice against the Cherokees could be carried out without missionaries intervening on their behalf or writing eye-witness accounts of the injustice.
Eleven missionaries who did not leave, including Samuel Worcester, were arrested and sentenced to four years hard labor. The eleven missionaries were chained together and forced to march to prison. When they reached the prison at Milledgeville, the eleven were offered a pardon in exchange for taking an oath to sustain the efforts of Georgia against the Cherokee or to abandon their missionary efforts and leave the state. Nine of the men took the pardon. Samuel Worcester and Elizur Butler did not. Samuel Worcester confronted the great evil in his day where he was – and it was right here in America.
And here we are in America – and there is a great evil in our day – abortion. Innocent blood filling the land. And it is not only legal in America – but in most of the countries of the world now. Western governments, including the United States, have exported it around the world. Missionaries must take a stand; show fealty to Christ; interpose; and speak and act on behalf of the preborn. So we appeal to this history of missionaries confronting the great evils they encounter in the lands where they have brought the Gospel when we go to Urbana.
Matthew Trewhella is the pastor of Mercy Seat Christian Church (MercySeat.net) and the founder of Missionaries to the Preborn (MissionariesToPreborn.com). He and his wife Clara have eleven children and reside in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. If you would like to listen to a sermon with much more detail on this subject, click here. The sermon is entitled “Missionaries Confronting Great Evils – The Great History of Missionary Work.”