Wednesday, 22 September 2010

"The World's Forgotten Mission Field"

Do you read church history? Perhaps the very thought of spending your time in books, reading about things that happened long ago, is enough to make the eyelids droop. However, that shouldn't be the case. After all, if we are Christians, then church history is our history. It is important that we grasp our spiritual family history, because it is only as we look back that we understand more clearly who we are. Also, reading of Christian brothers and sisters of the past can be both a great encouragement and challenge to us in the present. There are innumerable lessons to be learnt from the history books.

A good church history book is one that calls us to action in the present. In this regard Crawford Gribben's book, The Irish Puritans, is an excellent little volume. Gribben gives an great introduction to the history of Christ's church in Ireland, as he turns his attention to perhaps the most turbulent period of Irish church history, James Ussher's fight for a reformation in Ireland. However, he doesn't leave us in the seventeenth century, he closes the book with an urgent challenge to us today. The troubled history of the Irish church has valuable lessons that we need to listen to today. His challenge well worth heeding, not only for Irish christians, but for many others also. Listen to what he says:
In the view of the European Missionary Fellowship, there are more people in Europe who have never heard the gospel than there are in Africa. Europe is the world's forgotten mission-field. But of all Europe, surely nowhere has been neglected to the same extent as Ireland...Today, as never before Ireland needs the gospel. It needs Christians who will stand, only as Christians, for the gospel, and only the gospel. It needs Christians who will come to bring the gospel, and only the gospel, who will be prepared to abandon the importation of their home cultures if they find that those cultures present any kind of barrier at all to the spread of the Word. It needs Christians who will be prepared to die on a daily basis in order to bring life to Ireland.