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New Horizons

May, 2011: Foreign Missions

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Contents

Needing Jesus More Than Anything Else

"The problem with Karamoja," a man in Entebbe told me, "is that the people are not civilized. They wear no clothes, raid for cows, and kill people. Ah, those Karimojongs!" This was the response I recently received when I said that I live in Karamoja. It was not the first time I had heard such a thing. He went on to suggest the two things that will help the Karimojong people most: education and disarmament. "Take all their guns, and put the children in school." That was his program for change.

When I tell people who live in other parts of Uganda that I am from Karamoja, I am sometimes not believed. People laugh. "You can't live there." "They will shoot you." "They will eat you." These are some of the things I have been told. Usually it is a look of utter shock that I see on the faces of the people whom I tell. Read more

Rejoicing in East Kopetatum

The other day I came home from a village Bible study with greatly mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was filled with joy because the study had gone so well. After almost a decade of ministry in Karamoja, I could not remember a time when the word of God had been better received than it was that day as I spoke under the tree in East Kopetatum where we preach and teach. We were studying Noah and the Flood. The hearers paid good attention. There were many thoughtful questions and comments. They seemed to understand and eagerly receive the message as I showed from the Scriptures how the story points to the salvation from sin and judgment that comes from Christ Jesus, his death and resurrection. They were asking me to keep coming to teach them, and they were promising to invite many others to come. I was thrilled.

So why was my joy tempered by suspicions and even doubts? Of course, part of the answer is that I am a sinner who struggles to truly believe in the power of Christ. From such unbelief I need to repent! On the other hand, my guarded optimism is based on years of experience. I have seen many instances where groups have joyfully received the word, only to lose their enthusiasm over time. Furthermore, in the parable of the sower, our Lord teaches us that the presence of joy among those receiving the word does not always bring the promise of lasting fruit (Matt. 13:20–21). We know that the word can be choked and made unfruitful by the cares of this world (13:22). This is a big problem in Karamoja. Read more

Is There Hope for Haiti?

I nearly ran over a man on the way to Port-au-Prince the other day. It was a clear day, and the newly paved highway was dry. The traffic was moving fast as usual as I came over the hill. And there in the middle of the road was a man staggering around.

Think fast. Go left or right? Hit the brakes or try to swerve around him? Which way is his next stagger going to take him? Honk the horn! Zoom and I am past him. Another collision avoided by the grace of God. Read more

Evangelism and the OPC: Part 2, Van Til and the Mantle of Machen

In the previous installment, we highlighted the importance of evangelism for OPC history and identity. Concern for the faithful preaching of the gospel was not only the context of the OPC's formation, but also something that Machen hoped would define the church's future. Evangelistic concern and OPC identity are inseparable. Yet anyone who is familiar with the OPC's story remains puzzled by God's providential dealing with our church in her earliest days. Within a year of the OPC's birth, Machen died. It would seem that the young church was left rudderless and without a captain. But God's church is not dependent upon particular men; it is dependent upon God himself. The Lord who gave, took away, and then gave again. In Machen's shadow stood Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987), and on Van Til the mantle of Machen was laid. The OPC's evangelistic identity did not die with Machen. If anything, it was intensified and faithfully advanced by Cornelius Van Til.

Van Til's role in the OPC has been well documented. His work on apologetics (defending the Christian faith) is recognized in most conservative Reformed circles. He competently interacted with some of the most sophisticated theologians of his day, and took issue not only with elegantly expressed heterodoxy, but also with inconsistent Christianity as well. Nearly every pastor's library in the OPC contains Van Til's books that defend the faith. While these books are very helpful, we will give our attention to several statements about evangelism that Van Til made in his sermons.[1] Read more

President Wilson and Early OP Missions

Woodrow Wilson had impeccable Presbyterian credentials. His father, the Rev. Joseph Wilson, served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia. His mother, Janet Woodrow Wilson, was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. Woodrow Wilson studied at two Presbyterian schools, Davidson and Princeton. He married Ellen Louise Axson, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, at the Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia. He taught at Princeton and then served as its president until becoming the governor of New Jersey and then the twenty-eighth president of the United States.

Although he was modernist in theology, Wilson's Presbyterian connections extended to those who would be involved in and around the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He was acquainted with J. Gresham Machen. Machen's mother, Minnie Gresham Machen, had grown up in a Presbyterian home in Macon, Georgia, where the Gresham and Wilson families knew each other well. In the early 1880s, the friendship was rekindled when Wilson entered graduate school at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where the Arthur and Minnie Machen family resided. Later, when Gresham attended Princeton Seminary, he had an open invitation to dine at the Wilson home. Read more

 
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