W. Austin Gardner
bandaids on boils in the bush?
We note at once the basic difference between Paul’s pioneer efforts and most of ours. Paul did not set out to put “bandaids on boils in the bush.” He made no attempt to penetrate virgin forests, to establish mission outposts, to plant Judaistic-style mission stations in wild, unexplored regions. He did not set up schools and hospitals. He evangelized cities. He pioneered places like Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. He visited Salamis and Paphos, Perga, Attalia. He evangelized the great population centers of his day, the centers of culture, commerce, and government. He sought to plant his pioneer churches in the cities; those churches could then evangelize the hinterland. The penetration of the forests and far-off mountain tribes was the responsibility of the city churches he left behind. That was Paul’s concept of pioneer missionary work.
If Paul were pioneering the world today he would be seen in the big cities, on the college campuses, in the crowded marketplaces. He would be building churches in places like Hong Kong, Manila, and San Paulo. He would leave behind him groups of blazing firebrands who had caught the fire of evangelism from him. They, the nationals, would plan their own assault on the hinterlands. After all, the people who live in those places best know the local cultures, the tribal languages, the inland waterways. Let them get on with the job.
John Phillips, Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Ac 13:4.