By Viola Larson, Naming His Grace blog.
Noushin Darya Framke, Armenian/Iranian-American, Presbyterian Church (USA) elder and activist, has written a pleasant and informative article about returning to Iran to commemorate the anniversary of her mother’s death. But in the article, “Burning Frankincense in Iran,” found in the Presbyterian internet magazine, Unbound, Framke, writing about religious freedom in Iran, repeats her too often defense of Iran. Writing of her mother’s faith, she insists:
“Being a member of the ancient Christian community, Janet was part of a protected and well-respected religious minority. (On the other hand, converts from Islam to Christianity are not protected, as Islam considers them apostate, but that’s another story).”
This is a statement that Framke also made in a comment to an article published by the Presbyterian Outlook. I searched for it as I was preparing my material for this posting but could not find it. However Framke enlarges on this idea in her report in the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook. First she explains that the Christian groups who areindigenous to Persia (Iran) are respected and allowed freedom of worship by their Muslim rulers. Of the others Framke writes:
“But evangelical Christians—Protestants who converted, most from Islam, when Presbyterian missionaries began proselytizing in Iran in the mid-19th century—are indeed persecuted. Because they are converts “out of Islam,” these Christians are considered apostates—people who have abandoned their original faith. They are for this reason treated very differently from Christians whose roots are pre-Islamic and are honored by Islam. …”
Presbyterian Mission Yearbook article “Iran continued.”
The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is an excellent tool for churches who want to expand their mission ministry. Throughout its pages, local, national, and global are highlighted. By flipping through its pages, one can get a real sense of what mission is all about. Mission starts at the front door of the church and continues until the world is circled.
I read many good stories in the PCUSA mission year book of prayers and they touch my heart. However, I also read many stories that make me wonder what kind of missionary services that folks really do. I make a notation that Why is there a need of having regional representatives when there are few missionaries in each region of this world? Further, if PCUSA mission agency has area coordinators who sit in Louisville / go to the meetings with the partner churches in the region or country, is there a need of having two similar positions when the PCUSA Mission agency is in great need of financial support?. I look at the list of mission personnel, make a comparison of what went on during 37 years in my ministry, I see that each year there are less and less mission personnel on the field but more folks in the office or mission liaisons. Something wrong does show in the Mission Year of prayer.! PCUSA Mission Agency needs realize that ” It´s a jungle out there and souls are perishing and need the saving Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
In terms of “mission” one must remember what the concept of “mission” is in the post-Christian entity PCUSA. The closest term that comes to encompassing their work and self-identity is religious social-worker, or public advocate. In the case of the PCUSA’s work especially in the Middle East and South America, it is heavily into local politics and partisan ideological concerns.
Hence there is little if any real interest or enthusiasm or desire for the matters of personal salvation, Good News transformation or even the classic marks of the church, word or sacrament.
As the PMA has decided to outsource many functions to the UCC management structure, so the best use of limited mission resources is directed to agencies outside of the PCUSA governing matrix. The PCUSA brings administrative bloat, message confusion and poor accounting history to its global mission program. The essence of poor outcomes delivered at a high cost with little trust or confidence in the people and agencies paid to deliver such.
Remember that Jesus told us “to feed his lambs” and “tend his sheep”. This is done on a local, national, and global basis.