KEYWORDS: god, children, people, language, love, jesus

Become One

David Berg

—MO March 6‚ 1973 NO.208—GP

P. O. Box 31, London WC2E 7LX, England or BP 752, 75123 Paris, Cedex 03, France

Dear Children,

1. GREETINGS IN JESUS' PRECIOUS NAME! Thank you so much for your good letters and reports and thoughtful remembrances from the fields of the Orient. Thank you, dear Brother Paul of Japan, for your precious tape and your sweet and humble spirit and sincere message of counsel to us who are novices in your field. We truly appreciate your love for the Lord and your people as well as your kindness and hospitality to God's Children. We're sure the Children are also grateful for your help and wise counsel in their new and strange field which you know so well.

2. WE HEARTILY AGREE THAT IT IS CERTAINLY GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN TO LEARN THE LANGUAGES OF THE FIELDS IN WHICH THEY MINISTER as best they can as long as they are able to remain and as long as God leads them to continue their witness in these fields. You can't very well tell people that you love them if you don't make the slightest attempt to learn their language, their customs, culture, history, religion, characteristics, nationality traits‚ etc., which are all a part of them. We can hardly hope to understand them fully or reach them effectively without showing a genuine loving interest in who they really are and what they're really like‚ in so far as we possibly can in the time that we have.

3. FOR WE HAVE NOT AN HIGH PRIEST WHO CANNOT BE TOUCHED WITH THE FEELING OF OUR INFIRMITIES, for He Himself took on the form of our own human flesh and was tempted in all points like as we are, that He might know and understand us and our problems better, having suffered with us as one of us that He might have compassion on us and even to die for us. As a father pitieth his children‚ so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him, for He knoweth our frame, that we are dust, having worn that frame Himself, suffering in it, dying in it and now living in it again for all Eternity for our sakes!

4. LIKE SOME OF YOU, HE HIMSELF RENOUNCED THE RIGHTS OF HIS CITIZENSHIP IN HEAVEN, AND THOUGH HE WAS RICH, FOR OUR SAKES HE BECAME POOR‚ that we through His poverty‚ like ours, might become rich! He not only adapted Himself to our bodily form, but also conformed to the human ways of life‚ custom, language, dress and living‚ that He might understand and love us better, and communicate with us on the lowly level of our own human understanding! In a sense He became a citizen of this world, a member of humanity, a man of flesh, in all points like as we are, in order that He might reach us with His love‚ prove to us His compassion and concern, and help us understand His message in simple childlike terms that we could understand.

5. HE NOT ONLY PREACHED HIS MESSAGE, BUT HE LIVED IT amongst us, even as one of us, and proved that we, too, could do it with His help. He was not only the Living Word, the Sermon, but He was also the Living Work, the Sample. As you may have read in one of our Letters," I'd rather see a sermon than to hear one day, for the best of all the guides is the one who shows the way!"

6. THIS IS WHAT GOD HAS LED HIS CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD TO DO, at least what we're trying to do, including you. This has always been a part of the secret of the success of every truly fruitful missionary: A genuine endeavour of identification with the people, a true loving sample of God's love, and a clear presentation of His message in some way that they can understand, including learning their language, adopting their customs and dress, eating the food they eat, sometimes assuming their citizenship, and, above all, not only trying to know and understand them well, but to actually become one of them as Jesus did! He also not only ministered to their spiritual needs, but He spent a great deal of time ministering to their physical and material needs, healed them when they were sick, fed them when they were hungry and shared His life and His love!

7. THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE TRIED TO DO and this is the way our work began and is continuing to this day. We started by truly living with and sharing with our own children all that we had on their own level as much as possible, both physically and spiritually, and I believe this is why the Lord helped us so much to relate to other young people as well. We not only went to them and preached to them, but we also took them into our home, they slept in our beds, they ate along side us at our table, they lived with our own children and enjoyed the same love, affection, material blessings and spiritual instruction, and we showed them the same example, and shared with them the same ministrations that we gave to our own flesh and blood children! Then it was they knew we truly loved them, when we took them in to our own personal life, home and family, even as our own. For there is no difference: if you really believe that all are one in Christ Jesus, you live that way!-Not just preach it like church!

8. SOME OF YOU ARE ALREADY LIVING THAT WAY, and you, Brother Paul of Japan‚ and your group have obviously lived that way now for a number of years, the way I thought even as a little boy that all missionaries should live, adopting the citizenship‚ customs, language, dress and even wives and children and education of the people to whom you minister. I have always been leery of missionaries who didn't even like the people to whom they ministered, and who refused to become one of them or adapt themselves to their ways, much less marry them or allow their children to marry them‚ or receive the same education, culture and language of the people of their field. If you really love them, you will become one of them, marry them‚ and give your sons and daughters to them! Missionaries who send their children home for their education at great expense, or refuse to let their children fall in love with the natives of the field in which they're ministering, and are so glad to be able to take trips home as often as possible, are not my idea of a missionary!

9. BUT TO GO TO THE FIELD, TO BECOME ONE OF THE PEOPLE, TO CONSIDER THAT YOUR HOME AND YOUR PEOPLE as Ruth did with Naomi, and never again be interested in returning to that foreign country where you were born and once called home, loving both the country and the people where you now live, and never wishing to depart from them except by the will of God-to live with them, love them, be one of them and never leave them-that's my idea of a missionary!-it's a marriage!-Forever!-Why not?-That's what Jesus did! And but not least, like Jesus, to die for them!-That's my idea of a missionary, and apparently it was God's idea also, for that's what He sent His Son to do, and that's what Jesus did for us!-How can we do less for them! God gave His only Son, and Jesus gave His only Life, and lived it just for us, with us, for us‚ as one of us‚ and died for us!

10. BUT IT TOOK EVEN MORE THAN THIS!-HE HAD TO EVEN LIVE IN US AND DO IT FOR US BY HIS POWER! When it comes to the Showdown‚ only the supernatural, miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit of God Himself can really do the job and really win their hearts, bring them to a decision and cause them to be born again as a new creature, a new citizen of the Kingdom of God! Only God can do this-but they must see Him doing it in us first of all! As Moody used to say, the only Bible the world reads is the one bound in shoe leather: you and me! They must see this miracle-working power at work in our own lives, as a genuine living sample and proof that if can happen! This is our major witness‚ and our music is part of it!

11. I AM ALSO CONVINCED THAT WHAT JESUS SAID IS STILL TRUE, REGARDLESS OF NATIONALITY, COUNTRY, COLOUR OR CREED: If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me! There is no difference! The heart of man is the same the world over, and his heartaches and sorrows and sins and pains and fear of death are the same! His longings, loves and hunger for God and His Truth, for joy and happiness and peace of mind, are God-created and the same in men the world over! Japan has proved it can adapt itself to anything it likes!-Why not the Oriental Jesus, His answers to life, love and God in us?

12. SO, BROTHER PAUL, I KNOW WE CAN'T DO IT, BUT I KNOW GOD CAN!-And the Japanese are no different from anyone else when it comes to the love and power of God and the truth of His Word! We've found the same message, the same method, the same love, the same life, the same power, the same salvation, the same Jesus and the same God work just as well in any language or in any land with any people! His same word is just as true and just as powerful and just as moving, and His same Spirit is just as great and just as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent and all-loving in one country as in another!

13. NEVERTHELESS, I AGREE WITH YOU, as the Apostle himself conceded, and as we have already outlined above, that we must become all things to all men in order that we might win some! Therefore, there are certainly differences in approaches-to the Romans as a Roman‚ to the Jew as a Jew, to the Greek as a Greek and to the Japanese as a Japanese! It's a matter of communication in order to make our message understandable and our witness comprehendible and our lives interpretable in the terms‚ languages and even gestures that they understand, and this may truly be more difficult in some cultures and languages and under certain conditions and in the face of certain taboos, oppositions, religions, governments, customs, backgrounds, ways of thinking, etc.‚ than in others.

14. SO I HEARTILY AGREE THAT WE NEED TO LEARN ALL WE CAN about a people as well as become one of them-in fact‚ in order to become one of them–so we can truly communicate with them in a language they understand so that they get the message loud and clear. It reminds me of what the missionary to China said when he was telling his Chinese congregation how his mother had just died and he'd buried her in a coffin, but he used the wrong tone for the word coffin so that it meant garbage can, so that his Chinese audience was infuriated at this disrespect for his honourable ancestor! This is typical of the problems of communication in a strange land and a strange tongue, so we certainly need to learn all we can!

15. HOWEVER, AS MANY MISSIONARIES HAVE PROVEN‚ I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE TO WAIT TO WITNESS UNTIL WE KNOW EVERYTHING. The famous missionary who pioneered India began with only two phrases in the native tongue:" I love you and God loves you!"-And with these he started a mighty wave of Christian faith in that formerly benighted land!-But, of course, I'm sure that this was not all he learned before he was through!

16. SO THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR HELPING TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN the language of the land in which you have ministered so faithfully and so long and of which you know so much of the people you know so well! They surely need to learn all they can as quickly as they can in order to reach as many as they can as fast as they can! But at the same time I would not want to see them spending most of their time in language study instead of out witnessing amongst the people. Sometimes you can learn and accomplish more by putting to use what little you have where it's needed now, rather than waiting until you know as much as you think you need to before witnessing. While two of our relatives were spending most of their time for two years learning the language of Brazil, their children learned more of the language out playing with Brazilian children, so that they had to act as interpreters for their parents! But I'm sure you know this as well as we.

17. THEREFORE, I WOULD HOPE THAT OUR OWN CHILDREN WOULD SPEND ONLY AN ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL MINIMUM OF THEIR TIME IN ONLY THE MOST NECESSARY LANGUAGE STUDY, WHILE SPENDING MOST OF THEIR TIME OUT WITNESSING as best they can by the miracle-working love, life, Spirit, music and power of God! We believe our greatest emphasis should now be on literature in the language of the land! A soldier may not understand how a bullet is made‚ but all he needs to learn to do is how to fire it to do the job! Literature in the language of the land can be fired by almost anyone!-But we need someone to make the bullets! Can God use to translate the words that work for our workers for Japan? I don't savvy them all either, but God does: He gave them!

—Love, MO