The pull of China was strong, and by the 1890s the CIM was the second largest of all British missions.5 Not only was there the challenge presented by 'China's Millions', as the founder of the CIM called his newspaper. The limited European presence, and the remoteness especially of its inland provinces from western influences, were felt to be major attractions and advantages for the evangelist. Africa provided another arena for the proliferation of the 'faith missions' anxious to distance themselves from the corruptions of western settlement and empire. There, Livingstone, despite his identification with commerce and Christianity, had directed attention no less than the CIM to the 'regions beyond' by his constant travelling, notably in the Congo basin and central Africa. His style of exploration, his evangelism and his dislike of denominationalism reveal many parallels with the practice of the faith missions. The first such African venture - the Livingstone Inland Mission -was launched in 1878, with others such as the Sudan Interior Mission, the North African Mission and the Congo Balolo Mission following in the next two decades.

These missions were also propelled by the potent revivalism associated from 1875 onwards with the Keswick Conventions. Evangelical dissatisfaction with the conventional missionary societies' level of achievement opened the way for a fresh wave of North American revivalist activity, beginning with Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey's mission to Britain in 1874-5, and given new impetus by W E. Boardman and Robert and Hannah Pearsall Smith. The interdenominational, annual Keswick gatherings were its fruit. Keswick's concern with 'the Promotion of Practical Holiness', the attainment of a 'Higher Life' through 'deliverance from the power of besetting sin', proved immensely powerful in awakening widespread missionary enthusiasm, notably among public school and university students.6 Parallel movements began in the 1880s in North America. Spurred on by the white-hot evangelism of Arthur Tappan Pierson and a core of enthusiastic college helpers, displaying the same dissatisfaction with conventional missionary methods and an anticipation of the millennium, the Student Volunteer Movement, with its watchword 'the evangelisation of the world in this generation', was soon a major force, not only recruiting vigorously but extending its network of contacts and its influence within existing missionary bodies on both sides of the Atlantic.7

5 There were some 10,000 British missionaries by 1900; the CMS totalled 1,238, the CIM 811.

6 C. F. Harford (ed.), The Keswick Convention: its message, its method and its men (London: Marshall Bros, 1907), pp. 5-6; Porter, 'Cambridge, Keswick', pp. 5-34; Bebbington, Holiness in nineteenth-century England, ch. 4, 'The Keswick tradition'.

7 Robert, Occupy until I come.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment