Donovan on the Nature of True Missionary Work


To approach each culture with the respect due to it as the very place wherein resides the possibility of salvation and holiness and grace. To approach the people of any culture or nation, not as individuals, but as community. To plan to stay not one day longer than is necessary in any one place. To give the people nothing, literally nothing, but the unchanging, supracultural, uninterpreted gospel before baptism. To help them expand that gospel into a creed and a way of life after baptism. To enable them to pray as Christians. To leave them the bible towards the day when they can read it and use it as a living letter in their lives. To insist that they themselves be their own future missionaries. To link them with the outside church in unity, and the outside world in charity and justice. To agree with them that baptism is indeed everything; that the reception of baptism is the acceptance of the total responsibility and the full, active sacramental power of the church, the eucharistic community with a mission. To encourage them to trust in the Spirit given at baptism, and to use the powers and gifts and charisms given to the community by the Spirit. And then the final step. The final missionary step as regards the people of any nation or culture, and the most important lesson we will ever teach them – is to leave them.

Vincent Donovan, Christianity Rediscovered

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