Christian fruit withers when its branch is grafted onto an unregenerate root. Paul expected the gospel root to produce Christian fruit, and Christian culture and Christian institutions to come in consequence of his evangelism.
Christian institutions are then indigenous, growing out of the regenerate nature of the people, and not imposed upon their paganism.
Increasingly the missionary aim must be the evangelization of groups of nationals in strategic centers, these to increase of indigenous evangelism and to be established by the development, indigenous so far as possible, of schools, hospitals and other cultural resultants of Christianization.
Note the observation made by William Arthur: “The only way to the effectual regeneration of society is the regeneration of individuals; make the tree good, and the fruit will be good; make good men, and you will easily found and sustain good institutions.”
This does not mean releasing the home church from responsibility for world missions, but rather increasing its responsibility if this 11th-hour crisis is to be met successfully. Until blocked by national governments unfriendly to missionary enterprise, missionary supervision and encouragement must be continued; and most important of all missionary tasks will be the training of nationals as evangelists, pastors, teachers, nurses, doctors, administrators and economic leaders in vast areas that missionaries can never reach in the fragment of time remaining for unhampered missionary activity.
Then, when an unfriendly government erects barriers to keep the missionary outside, the native church will be established inside the country, and the missionary can say, “It is now you turn.”
Leslie Ray Marston served as a Free Methodist bishop and as president of Greenville College and the National Association of Evangelicals. In 1960, Light & Life Press published Marston’s “From Age to Age a Living Witness,” from which this article is condensed.
Go to fmchr.ch/lrmarston to buy “From Age to Age a Living Witness” for $9.99.