воскресенье, 26 января 2014 г.

Into all the world... (History of Anabaptist missions)

I want to write about the history of evangelistic mission by the Anabaptist churches (Mennonites and others). 

At the time of the Reformation besides Roman Catholic and Protestant camps there was a third way, the so-called Radical Reformation or Anabaptists. The Anabaptists were a disparate group and the term was applied to anything from the political radicalism of Thomas Muntzer and Jan of Leyden to the spiritualist Anabaptism of Denk and others. We are particularly interested in the evangelical Anabaptists, which trace their roots to the Swiss Brethren in Zurich (Manz, Blaurock and others) who received believers' baptism in 1525. The evangelical Anabaptists spread around Central Europe. In northern Germany and the Netherlands they were later organised under the leadership of Menno Simons (Mennonites).

File:Hans Hut.jpgThe Anabaptist movement was radical and missionary in its focus from the very start. At the core of the covenant was the call to discipleship (Nachfolge) which issued from the Great Commission. Unlike the magisterial Reformers (Luther, Calvin and others), the Anabaptists believed the Great Commission to apply directly to each believer - and not to the Apostles of Jesus Christ alone. At what became known as the 'Martyrs' synod' in August 1527 at Augsburg 60 Anabaptist leaders such as Hans Hut (picture) debated issues of teaching and organised the systematic evangelisation of southern Germany and Austria. Within five years of the conference only 2-3 were still alive, but by the mid-1500s there were Anabaptists in every state in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Poland, Galicia, Hungary and Italy. They even talked about going "to the Red Indians over the sea," however this remained an aspiration and did not become a reality. (It would be interesting to know if Anabaptist migrants to North America worked among the Red Indians). 
Opposed by fierce persecution over time the Anabaptist movement become more survival-focused and Anabaptists lived as "the quiet in the land" - living out the faith but not engaged in missionary outreach. 

It was only at the start of the 19th century, when Pietist preachers assisted in the revival of the faith of the Anabaptists, that a new missionary zeal was kindled. Having previously supported Baptist missions in other lands, in 1847 the Dutch Mennonite Missionary Association was founded and in 1851 Pieter Jansz (photo) was sent out from the Netherlands to Java - the first Anabaptist missionary to a non-western country. He was followed by Klinkert, Doyer and Schuurmann. Later, in 1870, a second work was begun in Sumatra and Heinrich Dirks was sent out from the Mennonite churches in Russia. 

This is the information I have. I would be very grateful for input from Mennonites and others who have more information on these subjects. 

2 комментария:

  1. From what I've heard and read (I worked at Mennonite Central Committee for 4 years), cross-cultural outreach didn't really start until the early years of the 20th Century. Now it's a very healthy movement- especially for the size of the church. It was interesting to hear that there were about 300,000 members of Mennonite-Mennonite(ish) churches in Ethiopia about 10 years ago.

  2. But you might say that Mennonites in Russia are a special story. Here is an article you might find interesting: