Serving with her famous husband, Martin Goldsmith, they
have covered cross-cultural mission fields in North Sumatra in the Karo
Batak Church, in Malaysia to pastor a church and in Singapore to
superintend a Language School to train new missionaries. In God’s
mysterious way of leading, the Goldsmiths returned to Britain as staff of
All Nations Christian College. Here, they discovered their exposure to
“all the world’s major religions” during their “ten years in
Asia,” a pedagogical asset to spend the next twenty years training
people to enter different countries for evangelism and church planting (p.
166). Remaining in Britain,
Elizabeth did not abort her missionary heritage. They continue to minister
to the varied cultural groups in their home tuft. They have not stopped
crossing cultural boundaries to extend their passion for teaching and The
Biblical Graduate School of Theology is honoured to be a recipient of
their “regular” service.
How did the missionary legacy come about?
The book is a historical research of the author’s family tree to
find out “what impact one generation has had on another” for
missionary work. It describes Elizabeth’s effort to find answers to,
“How did the task of mission develop over the years and what legacy did
they pass on? In what way is the ‘heritage’ channeled within a family
from one generation to another? And how is it modified and developed as
new influences come in, often bringing new blessing?” (p. x).
Her gift as a writer stands out in the book as she guides a
tour of her family heritage of Christian faith and call to mission. The
legacy of a Christian heritage began with the conversion of her great
grandfather, Royal Wilder and his determination to put God first in his
life (chapter 1). In preparation for ministry, he studied at Andover
Theological College where the first American foreign missionary movement
was launched resulting from the well-known “Haystack” band which every
mission minded church should get acquainted. The mission exposure on
campus confirmed his call and together with his wife, Eliza Jane, they
began work in the unevangelized state of Kolhapur in India.
An item of the legacy they left for the next three
generations of missionaries was the holistic approach to doing mission
that “people are not just ‘souls’ needing to be saved, but whole
persons with physical, emotional, and mental needs as well as spiritual
ones” (p. 20). Sensitive to the children’s need for literacy, the
Wilders set up schools for education and as channels to present Christian
instruction and the gospel. Another item of the legacy was, “native
churches should have native pastors; that native churches should be
trained to responsibility, and taught to keep on a level with their
neighbours’ so that they might win them” (p. 32).
Their principles of planting an indigenous church worked! The
Wilders were forced to return home in 1875 but with much joy that the
church in Kolhapur was growing with three trained Indian Christians
appointed as elders and “the slow and difficult beginning brought very
rewarding progress which was built on solid foundations” (p.34). In
1927, a Memorial Church to the Wilders was being planned, and this church
still stands there today!” and to the delight of Christian Educators,
“it was designed with as much space for Christian education as for
worship!” (p. 34).
The family heritage of missionary vision was caught by
Robert Wilder, Elizabeth Goldsmith’s grandfather (chapters 3-4). With
fellow Christians, the Princeton Foreign Missionary Society was set up on
Princeton College campus and met for prayer every Sunday afternoon and if
God permits, they were ready for foreign mission. They were serious about
the Great Commission but their question was “not whether [they] are
called to go, but whether [they] are called to stay at home!” (p. 40).
The power of student movement for “the evangelization of the world in
this generation” (p. 59) was demonstrated in the mission of Robert
Wilder whose leadership influenced the establishment of Student Christian
Movement, Student Volunteer Movement, Inter-Varsity Fellowship and many
others. His legacy “played a vital part in the development of the church
of God [and] many who were challenged to give up everything for God while
at university became Christian leaders of great influence” (p. 58).
Robert’s slogan, “The evangelization of the world in this
generation” remains a legacy for the church of today to respond.
The heritage saga continues with Dr. Stanley Hoyte and
Grace. They were the third generation of missionaries and parents of the
author (chapters 5 and 6). Following the legacy of holistic mission, they
set up a Christian hospital in China for the purpose of bringing the
“love of Christ to the local people, and to show them the possibility of
a richer and fuller life in fellowship with God.” (p. 98). Literacy work
was also implemented to teach the locals to read and apparently, it
increased their motivation to read the Bible for themselves. Elizabeth
gave a poignant account of the family’s suffering in China that led to
her own imprisonment for Christ in a Japanese prison camp. The incident
was a realization that “what my parents passed on to me was this steady
determination to obey God no matter what difficulties presented
themselves, coupled with a quiet confidence in God’s sovereign care”
Suffering is an item in the Christian heritage for those
who answer His call to live out the Christian Faith and to a life of
faithful service stands out in the experience of the four generations of
Christians. Their will to remain committed that, “nothing worthwhile is
ever accomplished without surmounting great obstacles” (p. 44) is rooted
in a deep understanding of the Word, dependence on the Holy Spirit’s
working (p. 99) and the discipline of prayer, “He that saveth time from
prayer shall lose it. But he that loseth time waiting on God shall find it
in blessing others” (p. 69).
The responsibility of parents in fostering strong family
ties is one other important Christian legacy Elizabeth wishes to emphasize
in her book. She has fond memories of going to church together as a family
on Sundays, praying and reading the Bible as a family (p.151).
These family “traditions” can serve as a “solid foundation”
and a “model” on which children could build their Christian roots in
later life and to pass the legacy to the next generation. What will her
children [the fifth generation] pass on to their children?
She invited each of her children to give their personal response
Establishing a stable foundation, however, is not easy to
accomplish for missionary families out in the fields, “Despite the
influence of our family heritage, we have each been free to develop our
own personality. . . . In each generation one or two have chosen to go
their own way, although the majority have walked in the spiritual
footsteps of the family line” (p. 198).
The book provides biblical and sound mentoring to
missionaries and leaders of missionaries. Most significant of all, it is a
testimony that God is still writing the history of the Christian church
and its mission!
(Reviewed by Dr Ng Peh Cheng)
Dr Philip Satterthwaite chaired the chapel service last week. It was a meaningful time spent on reading from the Book of Psalms, singing hymns and praying.
week (17th December), you are warmly invited to join us for a time of worship and
. There will be a pot-luck lunch after Chapel. If you are coming, please
call Mr Phua Kok Wee at 63538071 to indicate what food item you will be
bringing. See you then!
Bernard Chan 10/12
Choi Suk 11/12
Woo Chong Yew 1112
Jenny Low 12/12
See Poh Chan 12/12
Ang Tiong Keng 13/12
Clive Lim 14/12
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This page is updated on 12 Dec 2003.