The Heart of a Scholar Missionary
When I was in college, we had interviews with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions for what they called the "board of aid" scholarship. In these interviews, they would often ask about what we were called to do in ministry. I often struggled with this question because I felt that I would be responding presumptuously, assuming that I had a fixed agenda on God's purpose for my life. However, feeling that I needed to provide a response, I decided to answer by telling them that I believe God is leading me to be a scholar missionary. "What is a scholar missionary?" you might ask. Well, I really don't know exactly what one is, but I can point you to one that does a good job of resembling the heart of what I believe a scholar missionary looks like. Dr. David Sills, asscoiate professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology here at Southern, is a man whom I have had the privilege of knowing and learning both from academic and personal levels. In a recent blogpost, Dr. Sills shares something that I often feel in my own heart. Here's an except:
Back in the USA, I teach in one of the best theological seminaries in the world. I rub shoulders on a daily basis with some of the most brilliant evangelical scholars in the world—both professors and students alike. I can walk from my office and in two minutes be in one of the best theological libraries in the world. Spending my days in this environment makes it so easy for me to slip into a mode that assumes far too much. How it grieves my heart when I find humble believers and Christian workers like this precious sister who struggle on with no books, no formal training, and the constant attack of false teaching. When I walk through the door in my stateside classroom or in my church, people often greet me with smiles, pats on the back, compliments, and requests for my time or opinion. It feeds the flesh and makes me feel useful. When I have the opportunity to meet with these humble, Bible-hungry believers, I find it hard to leave. And, when I do leave and return to my highly academic comfort zone, it seems a little like taking a seat on a lifeboat and deserting those going down on the Titanic. I sometimes wonder about the greeting I will get when I walk through the door to heaven. I know I will see the Fortunatas, and that they will forgive me, but I wonder about those who never heard at all.I wonder too, Dr. Sills. On an academic side, there is a great need of biblically conservative missiologists and first-rate scholarship for the defense and propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ; but on the other side, there is a tantamount need for teaching, training, and working among the unreached peoples of the world. The answer as I see it is not either/or but both/and. In this upcoming generation of Christians, we need a great move of God for the purpose of reaching the peoples with the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ, but we also need astute, uncompromising, and humble scholarship which contends for the gospel against pluralism, syncretism, ecumenism, liberalism, and all those other -isms' that seek to neuter, alter, or destroy the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is why I believe we need more scholar missionaries who will communicate the heart of God to the hearts of those who have never heard. May God bring an outpouring of His Spirit to bring fame to His name with an unfliching passion for the truth, for the gospel, and for the Church which he has redeemed with His precious blood.