A Survey of First-Term Missionary Casualties -- By: Gordon H. Fraser

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 115:457 (Jan 1958)
Article: A Survey of First-Term Missionary Casualties
Author: Gordon H. Fraser


A Survey of First-Term Missionary Casualties

Gordon H. Fraser

This is a study of 118 case histories of first term missionary failures.

Background of the Survey

The information has been accumulated over a period of four years, and concerns those who have gone to the mission field since World War II. The greater proportion of these, about 80%, are cases in which the missionary served a complete term but failed to return for a second term. The 20% or less are those who returned home without having served out their first term.

The study includes reports from eleven mission boards, small and large, and represents all major world fields and a satisfactory range of cultures.

It has not been possible to classify the missionaries involved as to their scholastic attainments but it can be stated that all of the missions reporting require a high standard of education and all apply a satisfactorily stringent candidate screening process.

The report does not include cases of failure resulting from illnesses of an organic nature. It does include cases of health failure reported as psychosomatic or psychoneurotic. Some cases of psychosomatic or psychoneurotic health failures are reported in the category of the basic personality cause rather than the resulting health condition; thus, there is a slight overlapping at this point. These cases, however, are still within the same general classification and thus do not change the total figure for the classification.

The relatively small number of boards reporting might be considered as an insufficient basis for a final report. It is significant, however, that the experience of all eleven boards is so strikingly similar that one doubts if there would be a wide departure from the percentages established from our present statistics if a much larger number of boards were included.

The present study must be considered as preliminary and will continue as cases of failure are reported and as additional mission boards participate.

The information has been treated confidentially and case histories are not known or listed by name for obvious reasons.

The boards reporting can be classified as conservative, evangelical, and premillennial. They include both denominational and interdenominational groups.

The first term failures of the missions reporting would average approximately 40% which is considerably higher than some of the boards included and considerably under the general average of all mission boards.

Causes of Failure

The cases of failure have been reported under twelve more or ...

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