I recently came across this quote about the failure of Christian Humanism in Thailand and it really struck me.
On one hand, no one can deny the impact that cross cultural servants from the West have made on the modernization of Thailand, but on the other hand, I wonder if many lost their way in the process.
Did they turn from their original calling to make disciples of the nation and chose instead to focus their attention on mainly on social works? I do remember reading somewhere about how many of the first missionaries to Thailand started off well. They eventually started seeing a great revival but then shifted their focus to medical and other social works. This took the majority of their resources and energy and the rest is history.
Here is the analysis of Indian leader KP Yohannan:
In few countries is the failure of Christian humanism more apparent than in Thailand. There, after 150 years of missionaries showing marvelous social compassion, Christians still make up only two percent of the entire population.
Self-sacrificing missionaries probably have done more to modernize the country than any other single force. Thailand owes to missionaries its widespread literacy, first printing press, first university, first hospital, first doctor and almost every other benefit of education and science. In every area, including trade and diplomacy, Christian missionaries put the needs of the host nation first and helped usher in the 20th century.
Meanwhile, millions have slipped into eternity without the Lord. They died more educated, better governed and healthier—but they died without Christ and are bound for hell.
He pulls no punches in his last statement. But it is a statement that every missionary has had to grapple with at one time or another. However that is another topic for another time.
After reading this, I understood a few things. First, modern day Thailand would not be the country it is today without the work of these compassionate Christian pioneers. What they did for Thailand, they did in Jesus’ name. This being said, is this a case study for those who think that compassionate works alone will open the hearts of people and that words (teaching/preaching) are mostly unnecessary?
First and foremost, Jesus gave us a commission to go and make disciples who would be obedient to everything he taught (see Matthew 28:18-20). This is first and foremost the reason why we go in His name.
If we lose this, even if we do all we can to relieve the suffering and ignorance of our fellow man, we lose everything.