Many of our people are convinced the great stress in all our missionary effort should be laid upon Foreign Missions. Perhaps it should. But Foreign Missions has a much wider significance than you may have supposed. In a very proper sense all persons who have never had an adequate opportunity to know Jesus Christ are heathen. It does not matter where they live they are heathen and work among them is Foreign Mission work. If such people live in Texas, work among them is Foreign Mission work. If they live in Kentucky, they are subjects of foreign missionary endeavor. The emigrant who comes to our shores and who has never had an opportunity to know Christ is just as much a heathen as he was before he left his native land. The Catholic among us is just as much a subject of foreign missionary work as is the Catholic in some foreign land. There is just as truly a need of work among the Catholics of New Orleans as there is among the Catholics of Italy and one is just as truly a Foreign Missionary territory as the other. Work in Cuba is just as truly foreign missionary work as is work in Brazil or in Mexico. Work among the Mormons in our homeland is foreign missionary work. And so is work among the non-Christian Indian tribes.
We owe as great a duty to the heathen among us as we do the heathen in China or Japan. We are under the same obligation to the thousands of Greeks and Italians who have come to make their homes with us as we are to the Italians and Greeks in their native lands. And work among the millions of emigrants who live in our cities and upon our Western plains is just as essentially Foreign Mission work as is the work of our missionaries in the countries of Continental Europe from whence they came. If work among the heathen and Baptists abroad is Foreign Mission work, then work among the heathen and Baptists at home is Foreign Mission work and is just as important, though done by the Home Mission Board. And we owe the same duty to the heathen and Baptists here that we owe to them elsewhere. Indeed, we may owe them a greater duty here, and we certainly have a much better opportunity to serve them.
The soul of a person out on our broad prairies, who has never had an opportunity to know God in the forgiveness of his sins is just as precious in the sight of the Lord as is a soul similarly benighted who dwells in the cannibal islands or in the mountains of Thibet.
A great deal of our Home Mission work is really Foreign Mission work.
[From The Baptist Argus, April 16, 1908, p. 4; via Baylor U. digital documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
1838 Circular Letter to Home Missionaries
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