Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rural Church

I read with interest Dr Michael Kruger's post on the "Rural Church" and the question whether we put too much emphasis on the city church (see here). I am encouraged by the fact that the first century's church seemed to put equal emphasis on the urban and rural mission. While Paul's missionary journeys are often associated with the great cities of the ancient Mediterranean world, it cannot be denied that Paul and his associates did not neglect the smaller towns and villages. Often times, a city church is planted in order to facilitate mission into the interior.
Now that my ministry is 90% rural and 10% urban in that I preach occasionally in cities having just visited Sandakan in the East Coast recently and preached a 3-sermon series on Revelation in Kota Kinabalu. My rural ministry is made necessary by the fact that my denomination is still primarily a rural church. It started more than 70 years ago with three Australian missionaries in the late 1920s but the movement really took off with the work of Trevor White, an Englishman from Somerset from the 1930s. He almost perished during the 2nd World War with the Japanese occupation but after a year of recuperation in England he came back to North Borneo and with his early converts they went about evangelising from village to village and the initial work easily planted 50 or more churches and from that initial 50 churches, it quadrupled within a decade and by 1980s we have more than 400 local churches and now the number is close to 600 local churches throughout the State of Sabah, 80% of which are rural churches. In the early 1960s when the movement grew leaps and bounds the local leaders together with the missionaries made the decision to start a Bible School and three donors gave lands totally 28 acres that made up the MTS Namaus Campus as we have today.

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