Original Research

A flame of sacred love: Mission involvement of women in the 19th century

Johan Kommers
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 47, No 1 | a652 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v47i1.652 | © 2013 Johan Kommers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 September 2012 | Published: 27 September 2013

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Johan Kommers, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

In the 19th century, women missionaries found acceptance in the public domain and opportunities for achievement that they were denied at home. Whilst they spearheaded movements for Christianising and modernising Asian (the focus of this article) and African societies through the evangelisation, education and physical care of women, many questions were raised about their motives and the way they executed their work. We need to rediscover the sacrificial dedication women had that made the 19th century the greatest century of Christian expansion. These were remarkable women who left everything behind − many of them leaving a permanent impression upon the people in whose cities they eventually resided − and who stand as examples to the present generation. Having lost most of the things the world prizes, they gained one thing they esteemed so highly. For them, the relative value of things temporal might go, provided that they could forever settle the eternal values. They lived out the words of Paul: ‘I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (Phlp 3:14).

Vroue-sendelinge het in die negentiende eeu geleenthede vir prestasie en aanvaarding in die publieke domein gevind wat hulle andersins misgun is. Hoewel hulle die voortou geneem het met bewegings vir die kerstening en modernisering van gemeenskappe in Asië en Afrika deur middel van die evangelisasie, opvoeding en fisiese versorging van vrouens, is hulle motiewe en die manier waarop hulle te werk gegaan het, bevraagteken. Dit is dus nodig om die opoffering en toewyding van hierdie vroue, wat die negentiende e eeu uitgesonder het as die belangrikste eeu vir Christelike uitbreiding, te herontdek. Hierdie merkwaardige vroue het alles opgeoffer en vele van hulle het ’n onuitwisbare indruk gemaak het op die mense in wie se stede hulle uiteindelik tuisgegaan het. Hulle staan uit as voorbeelde vir die huidige generasie. Al het hulle soveel dinge verloor wat deur die wêreld as belangrik geag is, het hulle veel gekry uit dit wat hulle persoonlik hoog geag het. Vir hulle het die relatiewe waarde van tydelike dinge min beteken, solank hulle die ewige waardes kon vestig. Hulle het voorwaar Paulus se woorde uitgeleef: ‘Ek span my in om by die wenstreep te kom, sodat ek die hemelse prys kan behaal waartoe God my geroep het in Christus Jesus’ (Fil 3:14).


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