LOS ANGELES - A veteran U.S. missionary urged Christians to have humble attitudes in missions.
"[Jesus] took on the form of a servant – that’s not a popular theology," says Dr. Allen Swanson, at a Friday conference of Chinese evangelicals.
"We want to be masters, not servants. We want to go up, but Jesus said the way to go up is going down – when you become obedient even unto death," Dr. Swanson continued. "The Lord did exalt [Jesus] because of his obedience as a servant."
The missionary of 30 years spoke at the Mission and Prayer Retreat at the Mandarin Baptist Church of Pasadena, Los Angeles.
According to Dr. Swanson, America’s Christians whom live in a "blessed" nation tend to project a "wealthy and powerful" image in the missions field.
While taking members of his church to a Mexico slum, Dr. Swanson encountered two buses of "enthusiastic young people" coming to build houses for the poor. 'My heart was in pain," he said. "They came saying, ‘You can thank God…’ [which] ended up being you can thank me for helping to build it."
A "successful" business man with the church, stated Dr. Swanson, broke into "tears" instead, after seeing children living on the "dirty street." It was at this moment, the man and his accompanying wife said "we have met Jesus, and 'their lives' were totally changed."
Continuing, Swanson emphasized Christians need to be obedient to God’s calling. The Jews during the time of captivity, he said, were forced to sing songs of the Lord to the Babylonians, whom did not acknowledge Him. Christians, he added, must be the "salt" and "the light" that reveals God, even if it means serving godless people.
"It’s not easy to be broken, it’s very painful," Swanson explained. He recounted how the Lord led him and his wife to Taiwan starting in 1961, though he had personally tried to avoid the commission. Each time he tried to escape, Swanson added, "the door remained closed."
"Witness to non-Chinese people, because sometimes it’s even more powerful," Dr. Swanson concluded to over one hundred attendants. "Don’t forget about the non-Chinese - there are 1,000,000 people who don’t know about God."
Dr. Swanson and his wife, Jeanne, has served as church-planting missionaries in Taiwan for 27 years. He was later invited by James Hudson Taylor II – grandson of missions pioneer Hudson Taylor – to be the first mission professor at the China Evangelical Seminary in Taiwan.
Swanson also served as pastor of St. Andrew International Church in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Pastor of Evangelism and Mission at a megachurch in St. Paul, MN before retiring with his wife in Gainesville, GA.