In Joel Belz's column "Lifetime giants" (Dec. 11), he asked, "But why does this roster always seem to get shorter?" A biography of Adoniram Judson quotes him saying that "Christianity will advance over the earth with long, swift strides when the churches are ready to send their best men, and their best men are ready to go." In this age of materialism, very few of our men are willing to step out of their comfort zones to suffer for Christ. May those who call themselves Christians be willing to do as He bids.
-Brittany Buchman; Spring, Texas
Dave and Mary Seel were our fellowshipping neighbors for 35 years on the Presbyterian mission compound in Chonju, South Korea. Across the gully were the Jesus Hospital and the Jesus Nursing School, where I worked. Dave gave hope to countless Koreans and established a cancer research center, a cancer treatment center, and the Bruised Reed Foundation. Mary traveled abroad to obtain grants, produced large photo essays, published news reports, and designed buildings. They did all this despite many physical setbacks. To God be the glory for the "music" of our co-workers.
-Ruth Folta; Fenwick Island, Del.
I couldn't agree with Mr. Belz more regarding short-term missions work. I suspect that the high turnover rate in missions is mostly because workers know they can go back home when the going gets tough. If we instead used a Marine Corps Boot Camp policy and told prospects that we don't want them unless they take up their cross and follow Him, then perhaps our numbers initially would be smaller but those out on the field would truly be the Chosen, the Equipped, and the Tested. Two weeks building an orphanage outhouse won't reveal it.
-Patrick Winter; Saginaw, Mich.
It is not that "giants" necessarily serve God overseas; that attitude can lead some people to miss their true calling. We need to start teaching people to follow God's purpose for their lives, and stop putting tags on "location."
-Elizabeth Kays; Atlanta, Ga.
"Lifetime giants" rang the bell so well. When equating stateside service with missionary ministry or substituting a few weeks abroad for a lifetime of foreign missionary labors, we are in essence saying, "Let the heathen perish in their sins."
-John James; Prairie Village, Kan.
Thank you to Marc Davis for the wake-up call ("Waiting for the Son," Dec. 11). How often I find myself wrapped up in the busyness of high-school life. I settle for gratification and overlook the important things in life: eager anticipation of Christ's return, work dedicated to God, and sincere, purposeful prayer.
-Callie Bristow, 16; Fairfield, Texas
No, Virginia, . . .
It doesn't surprise me that Christmas is portrayed everywhere as a holiday for getting more and more of everything ("Empty bromides," Dec. 11). The Christmas season does not need the perfect tree or present or home. It just needs the right attitude toward Jesus.
-Kristen E. Maynard, 14; St. Peters, Mo.
No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, but one dare not try to argue that professing that there is is a lie. We wonder why the world doesn't seek Christ-why should it? There's the spirit of Santa to make things better.
-Robert Kite; Montezuma, Ga.
It should be clear to believers that Christmas is missing someone, just like that abbreviation "X-mas." When I was younger, I didn't like those "good-for-you" gifts like socks or underwear, but if I had been in serious need they would have been very valuable. When people realize their desperate need for salvation, they will seek Christ, the ultimate "good-for-you" gift, with all their hearts.
-Rachel Melchers, 18; Florissant, Mo.
I would hope that the politically correct in America, who say that Islam is just another peace-loving religion, will understand the differences between Islam and Christianity. Marvin Olasky's point about the differences between terrorists and the Crusaders was very good ("Beyond wishful thinking," Dec. 11). The Crusaders, in their zeal to free the Holy Land, went against the foundational teachings of Jesus while Muslims, in their zeal to rid the world of infidels, are following the basic teachings of Muhammad.
-Natalie Nill, 15; St. Louis, Mo.
I question whether any significant dialogue is possible with Muslims. The recent killing of van Gogh in Holland was a wake-up call for Europe and only the beginning of trials there. Islam will contend for Europe, and it is not clear that Europe has what it takes to resist the onslaught. Dialogue will be a means for Muslims to buy time and strengthen their position but will not change much else.
-Henrik Lind; Shoreline, Wash.
After reading about Baroness Caroline Cox as your "Daniel of the Year" (Dec. 11), I will think twice before turning into a BP station for gas.
-Sandra Gleespen; Powell, Ohio
It is nauseating yet not surprising that the ACLU is now attacking a worthy and well-established organization like the Boy Scouts ("Off-base attack," Dec. 11). It is indeed a sad time for America when our Constitution is twisted to support the agendas of extremists.
-Dale Shattuck; Lansing, Mich.
Marvin Olasky's piece on his experiences in modern-day Turkey brought back some fond memories ("How early Christians lived," Dec. 11). My wife and I spent 15 months at Ege University in Izmir when I was a student on an exchange scholarship in the early 1970s. Pergamum and Ephesus were nearby and we spent many Saturdays at the partially reconstructed sites. Each January the coliseum at Ephesus hosts a camel-wrestling contest (it's quite a spectacle), and we toured all seven of the cities mentioned in Revelation 2-3. All that is left of Laodicea are two crumbling amphitheaters, and we wondered whether this was God's judgment on a "lukewarm" congregation.
-Don De Jong; Youngsville, N.C.
David Novak opposed evangelism tied to cooperation between Christians and Jews and suggested that rabbinical Judaism does not hold Christians in contempt ("Beginning to work together," Dec. 11). Far be it from me, a Messianic Jew and a rabbi, to discourage Christians from interacting with unbelieving Jewish people. However, Rabbi Maimonides considered Jesus a false messiah and only grudgingly credited Him with what was accomplished among the gentiles. Can we cooperate with Jewish people in areas of mutual concern? Absolutely! Nevertheless, we are not called to seek the approval of the Jewish community, but its salvation. Cooperation without evangelization is an artificial and deadly dichotomy.
-Glenn Harris; Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Toe to toe
I appreciate your recognition of Mathew Staver's attempts to preserve our free exercise of religion ("Truth with triumph," Nov. 20). I hope it will embolden us to stand toe to toe with organizations like the ACLU.
-Melody Findley; Pensacola, Fla.