THE INADEQUACY OF STATISTICS.
Among the many ambitious and successful activities of the late Interchurch World Movement in the United States, there was also proposed a survey to include the whole body of facts relating to the religious life" in occupied and unoccupied areas of the non-Christian world. The aim of such a survey was to show the true proportions of the task of evangelization, the forces available, their present distribution and efficiency. We all welcome any proposal that yields new and accurate data of the dimensions and character of the great world field, of unoccupied areas and great centres of population with their challenge for an adequate missionary programme. We need to know how many Moslems there are and where they live and how. The most complete statistical survey, however, cannot convey an adequate conception of Islam, for, as the editor of the Pan Islamic journal, Turk-Dunyassi, remarks, "the strength of Islam resides not in its quantity but in its quality." It is a question of dynamics and not of statistics, however valuable these may be. East of Suez even logic sometimes gets topsy-turvy, and the part seems greater than the whole. The
Arabian peninsula seen from the back of a camel looks much larger than it does on the maps of "unoccupied territory." Here " one dot represents 200,000 Moslems" ; there one Moslem represents a thousand obstacles at a time to the work of evangelism.
The situation of lonely, isolated workers on the field must never be forgotten when we consider the real problem. For some things cannot be put in tables of statistics. You cannot tabulate loneliness, give statistics of temptation, or show the curve of hope deferred which makes the heart sick. Yet these are the things which make the difference between the shedding of ink and the shedding of blood for the Kingdom. The end of the survey is only the beginning of the missionary enterprise. Evangelism is necessarily individual. Christ calls each of His followers by name. Social service and the uplift of society are possible only by dealing with successive units. The masses as seen in statistics first bewilder and finally often benumb. We only see "men as trees walking "-a wooden world. The second touch of the Master's hand gives us not a smaller outlook but a deeper insight. It is the individual Moslem we must love and understand and win for Christ. What we need, therefore, is a survey in spiritual terms, not a counting of heads, but a weighing of thought and emotions and will. Dynamics are far more important than statistics. This is true on both sides of the line of our spiritual conflict, at home and abroad.
David Livingstone cannot be represented by a dot on the map of Africa, nor can a spot of red stand for the Mahdi who changed the whole history of the Sudan with his baptism of blood and fire. One man with God is a majority. One man with the Devil is a world menace. How can we draw a curve of Henry Martyn's influence or measure his life in candle-power who said, "Now let me burn out for God" ? All arithmetic fails when you deal with personality.
One man with God is not only a majority, but such an one can chase a thousand, and two of them put ten thousand to flight: You cannot prepare a statistical table of the fruits of the Spirit nor of the works of the flesh. Yet it is these imponderable forces which will determine the victory or defeat on the mission field. And because we believe that the imponderables of the Kingdom of Light are on our side we believe that opportunity is not the last word in missions. The appeal of the closed door is often even greater than that of the one which is open. The open door beckons; the closed door may be a challenge to authority. It is the strength of these imponderable forces-that is to say, the presence of the Great Commander-which enables the missionary beneath the walls of an Arabian city or on the borderlands of Africa to look upward with confidence and see by faith the future result of his toil-" the great multitude which no man could number "-a world where statistics are inadequate to express realities, where finance and
budgets have lost all significance and gold is used for paving-stones.
Oh, for such a vision of glory that is to be! It will convince us that success is not measured by numbers nor victory by vociferous shoutings. "Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit." When we look at the things which are visible we may lose heart. But they are only temporal and should not alarm us. '' Neither principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us" in the daily ministry of the word and of intercession for Moslems "from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Call to Prayer
Go To Start: WWW.BIBLE.CA