The cover image is a painting by an unknown Japanese recording the death of the Nagasaki martyrs (5 February 1597). Jesuit missionaries began a work in Japan in the 1540s that resulted in a church of perhaps 100,000–300,000. By 1614 Christianity was officially banned. From 1597, persecution swept over the church resulting in many deaths and forcing the remaining members to disappear underground. 

The gospel is good news. In fact, it’s great news. It is the wonderful story that tells how the God who created the heavens and the earth intervened so that people who had been separated from him by sin could be restored to a living relationship with God by believing that his Son Jesus Christ died as a sacrifice in their place. But though it is good news, the euangelion has a dark side. There is bad news in the good news.

The difficult side of the gospel was experienced by the Apostle Paul who, in addition to being imprisoned, beaten, whipped, and shipwrecked, set out on journeys resulting “in dangers from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers” along with “the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:23–28). Clearly, gospel ministry can be a lot tougher than most of us desire. The Bible and church history let us know that many Christian witnesses were killed for their faith. This “bad side” of the gospel is brought to light in the article on William Fleming—the first CIM martyr.

Not everyone who shares the good news about Jesus faces death, imprisonment, or beatings. Even so, many, as Andy Smith’s research indicates, find sharing the gospel to be a scary experience for any number of reasons. Karl Dahlfred insightfully addresses the sad reality that many animists who say the prayer fall away from the faith. By explaining how and when this tool developed, he shows why it may be best for us to leave it out of our toolbox.

If we work through the issues we face biblically and theologically, the bad news of the good news will not disappear, but it will certainly change form, as it will stem from the very nature of the gospel rather than the actions of those who proclaim it.

Browse articles in this edition

The Sinner’s Prayer in Animistic Cultures: Problems and Solutions

This article briefly reviews the origin and history of the altar call and the sinner’s prayer, reflects on misunderstandings that can occur when used among those with animistic worldviews, and suggests an alternative approach to helping people come to Christ. The reflection is based on Dahlfred's experience in the context of Thai folk Buddhists who [...]

Culture, the Bible, and the “Honor-Shame” Gospel

Some books about honor-shame cultures that have impacted missiological discussion in recent years. The concept that unites all of these books is that “Most of the world thinks and lives according to the cultural values of honor and shame. … For this reason, we must use an ‘honor-shame missiology’—a biblically rooted approach to Christian ministry [...]

William Fleming—“Gospel Shark”: The First CIM Missionary Martyr

From the beginning, danger was one of the key motifs found in the records of missionaries of the China Inland Mission. The frequent itinerant evangelistic trips taken by Hudson Taylor and his colleagues to the inland parts of China increased the risk factors that they faced far beyond their counterparts who remained in the Treaty [...]

A. J. Broomhall: A Missiological Practitioner

This article presents a biosketch of Alfred James Broomhall and examines his role in the formation of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in the years after he was forced to leave China. It shows how A. J. Broomhall proved more than useful to the committees he served on during his years as a superintendent in Mindoro, [...]

Fear in Sharing the Good News

This paper examines the results of a survey developed in early 2019 and completed by forty members of OMF by September of that year. The first part of the survey identified the fears that members experience while sharing the gospel. Specifically, it looked for answers to the question, “To whom do you fear something bad [...]

An Interview with Scott Callaham about “World Mission: Theology, Strategy, and Current Issues”

In this insightful interview, Scott Callaham highlights key challenges issued in World Mission: Theology, Strategy, and Current Issues. The book was written not only for mission practitioners, mission agencies, and seminaries, but for all biblically- and theologically-engaged Christians. Covering themes not seen in contemporary books on mission, the contributors to the book are not merely [...]

Start typing and press Enter to search