A New Vision for Missions: William Cameron Townsend, the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Culture of Early Evangelical Faith Missions, 1896-1945

By William Lawrence Svelmoe | Go to book overview

5
In Which Council Members Sail
to Guatemala to Save the Mission,
Mrs. Townsend Makes Some Practical
Suggestions, and R. D. Smith Has
Some Surprise Visitors
1925–1928

It is useless to try to make the public believe that we are a Faith Mission, if
when we are tested we rush to the public with information to that effect. Or
when a missionary wants … something …, he is to write to his friends (and
even strangers) about it.

—R. D. Smith

In the spring of 1925 the Central American Mission was in the process of selfdestructing. The arguments that threatened to blow the CAM apart centered on just what kind of mission it would be. Who was in charge? What was the mission's mandate? And would certain missionaries be permitted to focus exclusively on Indians? Cameron Townsend was the fuse igniting each of these explosive issues.

Ever since Chafer returned from his trip to Central America in the summer of 1923 fired up over the possibilities of the missionaries' educational endeavors, the CAM had struggled mightily over the issue of extra- evangelistic work. More precisely, the struggle centered on just what could properly be termed evangelistic. At the two poles of the contest were council members who were concerned about a constituency whose antennae had been sensitized to the issue because of the theological struggles in the denominations, and field mis

-165-

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