Re-Thinking Missions: A Laymen's Inquiry after One Hundred Years

By William Ernest Hocking; Laymen's Foreign Missions Inquiry. Commission of Appraisal | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
AGRICULTURAL MISSIONS

The spirit of agricultural missions. Work for the improvement of agriculture and village life in the Orient is an integral part of the missionary enterprise. It is a method of functioning in these villages as Christians. Nearly all of the agricultural missionaries whom we came to know hold the view that "we do agricultural missionary work because we are Christians, not because we want to make Christians." Done in this spirit it exemplifies the life and teachings of Jesus, and is, in and of itself, mission work of a high order. The whole endeavor loses its true meaning, however, if carried on as a bait to draw people into the church, or primarily to provide a basis for the self-support of the church. Such motives as these would not deserve the approving words, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." The agricultural missionary seeks to bring fullness of life to those with whom he works. Approached in this spirit, there is a great future for agricultural missions. But there are distinct limitations which need to be recognized. While there are examples of splendid work, the task is difficult and much of the energy, human and financial, now being spent is going to waste. New plans and new methods of administration must be devised. This calls for a careful study of the problems involved.

Characteristics of Oriental agriculture. The task is not so simple as it may appear to the novice. It is not a matter of showing the oriental farmer how to use western methods, for these very methods have grown out of conditions radically different from those obtaining in the densely settled areas of Asia, and cannot as a rule be applied in the East. In the agri-

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