PREFACEWhen the Portuguese traders, following the trail of the great explorer, Vasco da Gama, settled on the south coast of China, they built a massive Cathedral on a hill-crest overlooking the harbour. But a violent typhoon proved too severe, and three centuries ago the great building fell -- all except the front wall. That ponderous facade has stood as an enduring monument, while high on its triangular top, clean cut against the sky, and defying rain, lightning and typhoon, is a great bronze cross. When Sir John Bowring, then governor of Hong Kong, visited Macao in 1825, he was so impressed by the scene that he wrote the famous hymn beginning : --
"In the Cross of CHRIST I glory,
Towering o'er the wrecks of time,
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime."
The builders of that ancient cathedral are forgotten, but the cross they reared in memory of the Crucified remains. China has seen stupendous changes, old institutions have crumbled and dynasties disappeared, but the Cross still stands. "A great ruined wall on a misty hill-top; birds nestling on its hideous gargoyles; the sea and the mountains and the sky of China seen through its gaping doors and windows; and over all the Cross, changing desolation to majesty." So has it been in all lands and in all ages.
The missionary among Moslems (to whom the Cross of CHRIST is a stumbling-block and the atonement foolishness) is driven daily to deeper meditation on this mystery of redemption and to a stronger conviction that here is the very heart of our message and our mission. The secret of the missionary passion.
If the Cross of CHRIST is anything to the mind, it is surely everything -- the most profound reality and the sublimest mystery. One comes to realize that literally all the wealth and glory of the Gospel centres here. The Cross is the pivot as well as the centre of New Testament thought. It is the exclusive mark of the Christian faith, the symbol of Christianity and its cynosure.
The more unbelievers deny its crucial character, the more do believers find in it the key to the mysteries of sin and suffering. We rediscover the apostolic emphasis on the Cross when we read the Gospel with Moslems. We find that although the offence of the Cross remains, its magnetic power is irresistible.
The following chapters are the result of meditations on the passion of our Lord and His Death on the Cross in the midst of men who deny the historicity of the crucifixion and the necessity of the atonement. But the Moslem is not alone in his denial. The message of the Cross has always been an outrage and a scandal, a superfluity of foolishness to the worldly-wise. Yet it is CHRIST on the Cross who will finally draw all men to Himself. Under the shadow of the Cross is rest and peace. The glory of the Cross is as real as its shame; and to meditate on the shame is to see the glory. The Cross interprets sin and righteousness and love. It is the power of GOD and the wisdom of GOD. Its shadow is the longest shadow in the world, because it fell even on the Resurrection morning. "He showed them His hands and His side." Did He ever show them to you? Then were the disciples glad when they saw the scars of the Risen Lord. "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14).
"There was a knight of Bethlehem,
His wealth was tears and sorrows;
His men-at-arms were little lambs;
His trumpeters were sparrows.
His castle was a wooden cross
On which He hung on high;
His helmet was a crown of thorns
Whose crest did touch the sky."
SAMUEL M. ZWEMER
Samuel Marinus Zwemer, [1867-1952]
Samuel Zwemer was called to preach the Gospel to Muslims, and he is without doubt the greatest missionary to the Islamic world. On June 28, 1890, he began his mission, sailing from the United States on a Dutch liner the Obdam. Zwemer stopped in Europe to meet with other evangelical groups and then traveled to Beirut. Zwemer traveled throughout much of the Muslim world proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus including the Balkans, India, China, Africa, the Middle East. On June 28th, 1933, he ventured as far as China to bring the Gospel to the Chinese Muslims. Zwemer's greatest feat was to visit Sana'a in Yemen, a place no lone westerner had ever gone before. He had many adventures in Arabia. In one incident, his life was spared when a Bedouin guide swore a great oath that Zwemer was neither an Englishman nor a government agent. In another incident, a group of Arabs debated whether, or not, they should hold him for ransom. These adversities did not deter Zwemer as he distributed Gospel literature throughout the Muslim world. Zwemer was dedicated to his mission of spreading the good news. He said : "No agency can penetrate Islam so deeply, abide so persistently, witness so daringly and influence so irresistibly as the printed page,". The only thing that stopped Zwemer from distributing Arabic leaflets and Bibles was confiscation. He dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel to the Muslims and the created an awareness of the spiritual needs of Muslims in the West. Samuel Zwemer set up presses which printed many books - both to educate Westerners about the spiritual needs of Muslims, and Arabic language books to educate Muslims about Christ. He authored or co-authored at least 48 books in English. "He lived, breathed and thought of one thing alone: cracking open the Moslem world for Christ.... Zwemer penetrated Islam, but the great work he began remains unfulfilled to this day." (More information of Samuel Zwemer) Samuel Zwemer was named Professor of Missions and Professor of the History of Religion at the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1929.