Fundamentalist Evangelism versus Godly Empowerment

Fundamentalist interpret Acts 20:20 to exploit their followers with captialist marketing campaigns.

PRAE stands for Pacific Rim Area Empowerment. In 1996, I had a vision to reach isolated persons with a message of empowerment. The following year saw that vision embodied. I was able to teach throughout the South Pacific and raise funds for humanitarian projects. My struggle, however, was the “E” in PRAE was originally Evangelism.

Serving as a Baptist missionary, my travels exposed me to the Church’s theological limitations. Fundamental Baptists teach “door-to-door” witnessing. The concept is based on Acts 20:20 reporting disciples of Jesus taught “house to house”. It was a practice I grew up with but never grew comfortable with. On my trip to the Chatham Islands, I found the courage to question the Fundamentalist interpretation.

The Chatham’s have very few residents. The majority are either fisherman or farmers. I learned very quickly that if I went door-to-door, it would appear as if I was taking advantage of the men being out to sea or on the farm! I returned to my room and read Acts 20:20 in its context without Fundamentalist lenses. I felt silly.

The early Christian leaders did teach from house to house. They were invited into homes of people who already embraced their faith or about to. It was a brand new movement. There were very few local leaders. They didn’t have church buildings. Acts 20:20 has nothing to do with soliciting the unaware or unconcerned. The Fundamentalist interpretation allows leaders to exploit their followers with capitalist marketing campaigns that have no similarity to Jesus’ practice.

With that revelation, I immediately adjusted my movements. I was blessed to speak to all three elementary schools on the island; in one of the three churches on the island; on a radio interview across the island group; and a post-school children’s program. I also attended the annual “townies” versus “farmers” rugby match. In one week’s time, I was able to communicate with every family.

My island adventures continued. My intention changed. The “E” in PRAE became Empowerment in practice instead of Fundamentalist Evangelism. It is a privilege to interact with others and watch the individual power of choice transform lives. By 2012 I began to shed the Fundamentalist skin off my being and announced “E” as Empowerment. The lesson I learned:

There is such a stark contrast between the humanistic devaluation of a person from the Godly elevation of one’s being.

Although I have moved my residence within the Pacific Rim Area from New Zealand to California,* I remain committed to the ministry of empowering others through the teachings of Jesus.

  • After 22 months in California, I have returned to New Zealand as my permeant residence and home since 1991.

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Author: A Sojourner's Diary

Dr Timothy Rose is a long-term student of ancient writings seeking practical wisdom for the life journey under the sun.

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