On this day in 1649, Edward Winslow, governor of Plymouth Colony (present day Massachusetts) helped to organize the Society for Propagating the Gospel in New England.

The purpose of the Society was to evangelize the native people who had helped the beleaguered colonizers through their first winter, in which Winslow lost his own wife.  The organization sponsored missionaries in America until the Revolutionary War at which time its missionary efforts were turned to Canada. It functioned much like a corporation. The revenues from its investments, primarily in property, were sent to Commissioners in New England who in turn paid the missionaries or dispersed the funds as directed by the organization.

Winslow repaid these Indians with a much better gift than they could have given him. While they helped many of the early settlers to survive their first winter, Winslow labored to help these Indians be spared by the eternal fires of dying without knowing God. The Indians worked to preserve his physical body, but he worked to preserve their souls.

Can we be like Edward Winslow? Can we see past people’s physical needs? Do we realize that each person in the world, no matter how rich
or poor, has a greater need far deeper than their physical needs? Everyone has a spiritual need and it is to be made righteous before God through believing in the payment of Jesus Christ for us. Winslow did not simply give the Indians food or clothes, he gave them the gospel. Are we giving out the gospel today?

 

On this day in 2007, the remaining survivors of the 23 South Korean hostages were released after being abducted by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Two were killed and the rest held hostage after being kidnapped for the purposes of convincing the South Korean government to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, as well as its missionary activity.

This event, as well as numerous others, caused the South Korean government to pull its missionaries out of Afghanistan, and contemplate discontinuing all missionary efforts to the Middle East.  According to the Korea Times, in the past two months (reported on August 31, 2009), the South Korean foreign ministry has said that about 80 South Korean Christians have been expelled from Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Jordan and Yemen, because of their evangelism efforts.  Last month, 12 South Koreans faced deportation for engaging in door-to-door missionary work in Zehedan in south-eastern Iran. Six of them had apparently already been expelled for the same reason from the area. The Iranian government reportedly complained to the South Korean government about the Koreans being allowed to travel to Iran for such purposes.

After South Korea’s decision to withdraw  and ban missionary efforts from Afghanistan in 2009, The Voice of the Martyrs organization voiced their opinion stating: “Make no mistake, this decision to withdraw missionaries from Afghanistan and to prevent others from going there is a violation of religious freedom. It is telling Korean Christians, ‘You can obey Christ’s commission but not in Afghanistan.’ This no government has the right to do, even in the name of protecting their citizens.”

Are we willing to face persecution? Do we take seriously the fact that Jesus said we would suffer for His sake? We are told to take joy in persecution, not to prevent it. What do we do when we face persecution? Do we run away, or take joy in it?

*Entry submitted by Edward De Los Reyes

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