Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Robert Moffat, Setswana, and the Information Age

Robert Moffat (1795-1883) was one of the earliest and most extraordinary evangelical missionaries to the dark continent of Africa.

Robert, his wife Mary, and their ten children settled at Kuruman, to the north of the Vaal River, among the Batswana people. Here Robert lived and worked passionately for the cause of Christ.

Robert endured many hardships, including once going for days without water. His mouth became so dry he was unable to speak. Often he bound his stomach to help him endure fasting when he could not find food to eat.

Robert translated the whole of the Bible and The Pilgrim's Progress into Setswana language of the African tribes to whom he ministered.

Robert Moffat was an extraordinary missionary to the African people. He communicated the results of these journeys to the Royal Geographical Society. While in Great Britain on furlough (1839–43), Robert wrote an account of his family's experiences, entitled Missionary Labours and Scenes in South Africa (1842).

It was in London during his leave (1839-1843) that he met a doctor named David Livingstone. That meeting was influential in leading David Livingstone to leave his safe and secure medical practice and go to Africa as a Christian missionary. 

Livingstone would later marry Moffat's eldest daughter, Mary. 

While in London, on June 20, 1842, Robert Moffat penned a note to a pastor friend named Rev. Edward Jenkings (see picture above). 

I have Robert Moffat's note to Rev. Jenkings in my private collection in my home office. 

At the bottom of the note, Robert Moffat writes: 
Behold the Lamb of God
Underneath, Moffat writes something that I didn't understand. 
Bonany Kusena la Mossino
So, I went to the Internet. 

I assumed the words were in Setswana. 

I typed in the words..,


Behold the Lamb of God in the Setswana tribal language. 


We who have the privilege of living in the 21st century have the world at our fingertips. Even twenty years ago it would have taken me time, energy, and effort to find a BOOK that translated English into African Setswana. 

It took me 30 seconds with the Internet.

Let's not waste our days. 

The Internet makes learning a lifelong hobby. 

Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of living in this Information Age.


David said...

Wade, I would like to ask you to respond to the current Revelation on Wartburg concerning the IMB, Mark A, and Anne Miller. It seems to me that several churches and agencies dropped the proverbial ball. It seems that God is exposing long hidden sins, so as to prepare His slumbering church of His coming. Wade, I believe that you have unique perspective since the interview with IMB leadership would have taken place about the same time as your tenure as a trustee of the IMB.

Wade Burleson said...


I can’t contribute much. I was banned by Tom Hatley from closed door sessions, and any report on the interview to the full board would have been behind closed doors.

Honestly, the pastors who formed the board leadership at the IMB at the time were extraordinarily weak leaders.

Such a sad situation.

David said...

I am sorry to hear that but that seems to be the on-going dilemma of many SBC agencies, institutions, and organizations. They don't want people who can think or challenge the agenda, only those who blindly go along. I am a graduate of SWBTS and you can't tell me the faculty, trustees, staff, and convention leaders did not know of PP's attitude and agenda? I mean the school is less than 1/3 of the enrollment during my matriculation. Anyway, it's likely too late to repair the old SBC ship but I do appreciate that you did for a season stand and warn the Captain. It's really too bad that he was in his cabin with orders not to bothered.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Wade. We live in interesting times with revolutionary technology at our finger tips. As a pastor, do you find that people in the congregation are fact checking on their phones/tablets during sermons?

With so much information at our finger tips, I wonder how this will impact the way that we retain and process information. Will our thinking skills be impacted by a tendency to not commit as much information to long term memory since we know how easy it will be to retrieve?

Wade Burleson said...


Great question.

I can only speak from experience. More information allows me to connect dots chronologically, contextually, and cohesively. I've found my long-term memory is enhanced.

It's an "association" type of thing for me. When I know more about Robert Moffat, for example, I know more about the time in which he lived, the world around him, and how it relates to my world today.

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

SWBTS Biblical Counseling Program- Clear and Present Danger to Hurting Families?

Wade-- I left the comment below on your last post. Due to the lively debate on the real topic of that thread, you may not have seen it. Do you know if the SWBTS trustees are auditing this curriculum to ensure that future pastors are not improperly trained on handing abuse?

Previous Comment:

Back during the Convention, I wrote to express concern about professors like John Babler and Frank Catanzaro in the Biblical Counseling program at SWBTS. These men have been involved in shaming women who have sought divorce as an escape from abusive marriages, even when they are protecting their children. It is reported that they discount the validity of modern psychiatric medications. At least one is involved in the quiverfull movement. We don't believe their views reflect the strong majority of Southern Baptists. Their continued ability to influence pastors-in-training is horrifying to many of us. It is not enough to dismiss the former president. SWBTS must be cleansed of this misogyny in its classrooms if the Lord is to bless its future (see Fall 2018 course listing below). I actually saw the course listings referenced on the Baptist Blogger site. I did not post there, since I am not comfortable posting other than anonymously. I appreciate being able to do so on your blog. I represent a woman and her children who were hurt very deeply through one of these professors.

6187 CNSLN-4903-A Spec Iss: Bibl Cnsl & Abuse John Babler MTW
F 8:00AM- 5:00PM
1:00PM- 2:30PM
1:00PM- 2:30PM
This course is offered annually and is associated with the national conference of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. The class will explore topics within the field of biblical counseling related to the conference theme.

Meeting Dates: 08/23/2018 - 12/14/2018

Credit Hours: 3.00

Additional Course Fees : 0.00

Room :

Notes : This course will be help in conjunction with the annual Association of Certified Biblical Counselors Conference. The dates of the conference are October 1-3, 2018 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. In addition to attending the conferences, students will also be meet on Friday, September 21 and Friday, October 26 from 1-2:30. Please contact Dr. Babler for further details.

Thu Jul 12, 08:25:00 PM 2018

Wade Burleson said...


I did not see your comment.

And, I do not have an answer to your question "Are trustees auditing this course?" However, knowing what I know, I would imagine that a majority of trustees would not be aware of the issues. It's probably a matter of education for them, and I would suggest you contact the new interim President.

I've written in the past on the problems I see in the "Counseling" Department of SWBTS. Thanks for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

SWBTS Biblical Counseling Program- Clear and Present Danger to Hurting Families?


Thank you for your response, and for all your efforts to shed light on the issues at SWBTS. Unfortunately, I do not have a way to report my concerns without risking further harm to a family. I will hope and pray that you or one of your readers will pass on these concerns so they may be addressed.

Many blessings to you and yours!

Christiane said...

Hello Anonymous

you wrote, this:

" It is reported that they discount the validity of modern psychiatric medications."

This is very disturbing indeed.
I can't imagine someone stopping their medication on the advice of an individual without medical/psychiatric credentials, especially if they stopped the medicine abruptly.
This sounds like counseling malpractice certainly. The consequences could be tragic.

Anonymous said...

A good friend and her husband attend and work at SWBTS. The interim has stated that any concerns of any kind need to be brought to his attention. He is willing to speak with men and/or women on any topic. This is refreshing.

Victorious said...

I, too, am very grateful for the privilege of living in this information age. Having lived through the age of "party-line" telephones, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit I'm probably the last person in the world who does not own a cell phone. :) I did own one years ago for a period of 3 yrs. and never used it, so I gave it up.

Those about 25 or under are likely to have little or no memory before the internet. My sister told me of an incident involving her granddaughter IIRC and the class was being shown a land-line telephone. After examining it, the question was asked, "how do you turn it on?" lol

Rex Ray said...


My father, Dave, was on a party-line telephone. One day he wanted to make a call, but three women were talking. He never said anything but would pick-up and hang-up over and over causing them to hear “click, click, click, over and over.

“Wonder who’s making the clicking,”
“Well, they’ll just have to wait until we’re through!”

My father had the only peacock in area. (Their ‘crow’ can be heard a long ways.)

Dave was listening to them when the peacock hit ‘high C’.

“Oh, we know who it is now! That’s Dave Ray!”

RB Kuter said...

Wade said: "Honestly, the pastors who formed the board leadership at the IMB at the time were extraordinarily weak leaders."

I wonder if you consider the leadership since that time to be an improvement?

My understanding from the weak grapevine is that morale of IMB field personnel continues to be at an all-time low; and why should it not be?

The leadership structure from the centralized Richmond office down is in shambles. No global strategy to guide field personnel has been created or implemented since the time prior to the exit of Jerry Rankin as IMB President, the last experienced person serving in that office.

The IMB President replacing Rankin, Tom Elliff, served more as an "interim" President. Tom was a really good guy, a fine preacher, and a great SB celebrity. But Tom had no missionary leadership experience at all. That hamstrung him.

During Tom's brief tenure as IMB President, there was no direction given to IMB personnel in terms of a strategy, leadership structure, or vision for expanding The Kingdom as a mission organization. IBM was "treading water".

Still, Tom's "doing nothing" was less destructive than the devastation resulting from David Platt's brief presence in the President office. During his initial year of serving as President, the very "green" David (even less experience than Tom) portrayed his "first-year" intentions in that office to that of flying "40,000 feet above the ground" in an airplane. He had no intentions to implement changes in IMB until he had assessed the situation in its entirety.

Unfortunately, when David did fly to the ground following his first-year "assessment", it was like a dive bomber dropping its payload upon the terrain as he took measures to wipe out 40% of the missionary field force within the next two years! Much of the damage involved what remnants remained of the leadership structure left by Tom as it resulted in the exit of mostly experienced missionaries serving in leadership positions. It has been in shambles since.

The campaign rhetoric by David and his supporting Board of Trustees was that the cuts in missionaries were necessary to reduce expenses. Because SBC "trusts" its "trustees", it bought the entire story, hook, line, and sinker. However, this tragic first step in cutting out the heart of the institution was taken prior to any significant austerity measures being taken in other areas, like cutting the exorbitant expenses of trustee meetings and their international survey trips. President Platt made the reductions without implementing any revised leadership structure to address the dynamics of what was left of the personnel base.

David's implementation unraveled what was left of any chain of command running from the head office to the "grunt" church planting missionary on the field. As a result, a fragmented force was left with no proposals for alternative leadership implementation being proposed; neither was any direction given as to how to function under the new status. Why would morale not be low?

ALL of this reduction in experienced, trained, missionary personnel had taken place under the auspices of sitting "trustees". Given the sad episode at SWBTS with the failure of its Board of Trustees to function in the role of accountability, it seems that the entire SBC "trustee" structure is sadly failing to serve in its intended purpose. This being the case means there is no provision to have a source of accountability for out of control, unqualified, disqualified, executive officers.

No, Wade, I personally have no reason to hope that things have improved. Maybe JD can begin a new trend?

Rex Ray said...

RB Kuter,

You mentioned Tom Elliff. He is listed 21 of the 30 people that messed up the SBC written by David Flick as seen in the link below. Flick wrote: “Thirty people, seven Boards, two committees, and one News Service who Screwed the Southern Baptist Convention.”

This is what Flick wrote about Elliff:

“21. Tom Elliff - Was a two-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention ('98-99). He joined previous takeover presidents in appointing only fundamentalists to denominational boards and agencies. In 1997, he sent a copy of a personal to Albert Mohler that resulted in getting Paul Debusman, librarian at Southern for 35 years, fired. In 1997, Elliff appointed the revision committee that gave Article XVIII of the BF&M (the Submissive Women article) to Southern Baptists. At the 1998 annual SBC convention in Denver, Elliff used the imagery of barnacles on a ship's hull to warn that "parasites," (barnacles) a reference to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and other moderate groups, were preying on the denomination.”

The Baptists Standard newspaper printed my first letter to the editor on 7-29-98: “If I was a seminary teacher or maybe a missionary, I could have been shook from the boat or cut from the tree long ago. But I’m just a construction volunteer looking forward to my ninth trip of building churches or missionary homes in Japan. I’ve just received a usual “Certificate of Appreciation, May June 1998” on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention.

This “barnacle” and “parasite” is wondering if there is a double standard.” By Rex Ray. One lady wrote “I hope Tom Elliff falls overboard.”

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray, seems there is a problem with my following this link you provided but I probably wouldn't be able to read it tonight anyway. Maybe I'll try it again tomorrow. If you try "copying and pasting" this link as you gave it to me, can you get in?

Regarding the most notorious characters wreaking havoc on our SBC, I'm afraid there probably have been many. I don't doubt the things you wrote about Tom Eliff's involvement in the takeover days and other things. You know RR, it is difficult to understand the behavior of a lot of our leaders in that regard, but I try to assume that in their hearts they "thought" they were doing what God wanted them to do. Sometimes, though, the arrogance and bitterness displayed in the behavior of some make it difficult to give them that benefit.

I believe that it was simply a case of these Presidents not being qualified or their taking positions that were beyond their capacity to manage. I hope they took the positions with a sincere desire to serve Christ, but they should have let these offers pass them by. As things turned out, their refusing to take the positions would have rendered greater service to The Kingdom's growth.

I try not to judge the strength of their relationship with their heavenly Father, but do hope that our Southern Baptist structure will eventually be adjusted so that there will be more sincere efforts made to install leaders based upon their qualifications for doing the job and not based only upon their rankings within the political system or their celebrity. I think that would remedy a lot of our problems.

We're in a mess, aren't we.

Rex Ray said...

RB Kuter,

I see the problem with the link. It says try some other time. But one thing that comes up is:

“Here is my list of 30 People, 7 Boards, 2 Committees, and 1 News Service ... David Flick wrote:”

His article is eight pages.

His 30 names took six pages in telling what they did. I will list his 30 names in order:
Paul Pressler…chief architect takeover of SBC.

W.A. Criswell…co-architect takeover. “Pastor is ruler of the church.”

Paige Patterson…co-architect takeover. Lied about the Baptist World Alliance.

Adrian Rogers…first SBC president of takeover. Told seminary professors “If we say pickles have souls you better teach pickles have souls.”

Morris Chapman…two time president SBC. Like other Presidents appointed only fundamentalists to boards and agencies.

Albert Mohler…president of SWBTS 1993. Forced or fired Molly Marshall and Diana Garland for being female.

Richard Land…leader in destroying support for separation of church and state.

T. C. Pinckney…published Baptist Banner, a paper that sought to destroy anyone who did not agree with the fundamentalist agenda.

Dorothy Patterson…wife of Paige on committee that created “Submissive Women” to 1998 revision of BFM.

Mary Mohler…wife of Albert; also on same committed as Dorothy.

Jerry Rankin…required missionaries to sign 2000 BF&M.

Jerry Falwell…when asked why he joined the SBC, he said, “They came around to my way of thinking.”

William Powell…close associated of Paul Pressler. He wrote many articles that attacked ‘liberals’.

Jerry Vines…two-time president of SBC; on committee that created 2000 BFM.

Jack Graham…two-time president of SBC, and president when SBC withdrew from BWA. He supported to remove Baptist children from public schools.

Charles Stanley…two-time president of SBC. Appointed only fundamentalists to boards and agencies. His church gave less than 2% to the Cooperative Program.

Jimmy Draper…did same as other presidents of SBC. Supported withdrawal of BWA.

Roger Moran…attacked anyone who did not agree with fundamentalist agenda.

Ed Young…two-time president of SBS; did as other presidents. Helped defund Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs.

Tom Elliff…(already printed.)

Anthony Jordan…Executive Director of Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Chairman of Committee that created “Submissive Women” article that made women second-class in family and church.

Kenneth Barnett…Oklahoma pastor made motion of the 1971 SBC to scrap the original Volume 1 of the Broadman Bible Commentary.

Jerry Johnson…Southern Seminary trustee who accused their president Roy Honeycutt of heresy.

Russell Moore…as Dean of School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he ended pioneering curriculum for “biblical counseling”.

Larry Holly…influenced the dismissal of Gary Leazer as Assistant Director of the Interfaith Witness Department of the Home in 1993.

Eldridge Miller…wrote hate material directed at so-called “liberals” in the SBC.
Sam Pace…Director of Missions in Oklahoma and on SBC Executive Committee. Stirred up hate towards those who opposed fundamentalist agenda and takeover. Supported firing Russell Dilday.

Robert Tenery…editor of The Southern Baptist Advocate; a hate-filled paper that hurt the cause of Christ.

Russell Kaemmerling…Brother-in-law of Paige Patterson. While a trustee for the IMB of SBC, he was arrested on 19 counts of criminal fraud and is in prison in Beaumont, Texas.

I’m going to a Dallas VA hospital in the morning to see if they can help about a 4 year problem I’ve had with an ankle.

RB Kuter said...

Thanks, Rex Ray. I don't know David Flick. Maybe I should.

I know you can find something on everybody that could be portrayed as being negative or questionable. I think that for me it is the cloud of arrogance that seems to have shrouded our leadership in a way that caused them to close-minded and insisting that it was their way or no way.

Another very disappointing aspect of the manner in which things have been done is the secrecy in which it was done as though whatever they were doing would not be acceptable to their constituency if they found out. The secrecy was not done for reasons of "confidentiality" to "protect" innocent victims or anything like that. It was done to keep information away from observing eyes. We can certainly look at Wade's experiences with the IMB Board's behavior as evidence of all of that, and I believe it was representative of the way things were done in general by the SBC leadership. That is certainly not "Godly" and when anyone begins doing things in a way that causes them to fear others knowing about it, you know that it should be considered suspect.

So, how could it happen that so many church leaders in the SBC were in harmony in doing things this way? How could so many leaders be influenced by other personalities who maneuvered in such underhanded ways? I guess the answer must be that there was just enough of them to make a very measured majority (maybe 50.5%) and they forced out any and all opposition completely rather than allowing them a place at the table. Quite dictatorial.

I wonder if I should even be commenting on such an ugly episode in our SBC life. Am I being used by the enemy to undermine an institution that is in service to God and intended to be used by Him for His purposes? Am I being contradictory to God's work and purpose? That is a tough call to make. Rex Ray and I could simply concede and remain silent for the purpose of maintaining harmony, but would that not be like remaining silent when you see brothers doing things that are obviously, to us at least, not consistent with the character and nature of God? Is there any benefit in voicing opposition? Should be silent and let God deal with it?

These are the questions that I struggle with the most. But I feel that if we care about the SBC and see it potential for being used by God we must say something. We should challenge what we believe to be wrong and inconsistent with God's character if we are to serve as stewards of something He built.

Rex Ray said...


Jesus said, knowing the truth will set us free.

I’ll print Flick’s “One News Service”; The Baptist Press, (BP).

“Fundamentalists transformed a decent news service into a propaganda organ. In 1990, Al Shackleford and Dan Martin were fired for “persecuting the fundamentalists in their news coverage. Since then the BP has a 25-year history of spreading fundamentalist propaganda, printing so-called news stories designed to destroy the credibility of moderate Southern Baptist, specifically the credibility of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.”

Rex wrote to the President of the IMB, Jerry Rankin, to remind him what happened:

“A missionary, Scott McIntosh, criticized the BP and asked them to cancel his prescription. His letter ended up on the desk of Executive Board President, Morris Chapman. He told Rankin to get his missionaries under control. Chapman implied if Rankin couldn’t do it, they’d get someone who could.

Rankin had already asked missionaries to sign the BFM 2000. Rankin wrote McIntosh: “Now we have to do some damage control, requiring missionaries to sign the BFM 2000.”

At first Rankin told my son required signing was only for new missionaries and he wouldn’t have to sign. Then he told him if he didn’t sign, he wouldn’t be fired. Rankin was wrong on both statements.

Rex Ray said...


The background of ‘names’ in the SBC is revealing. The people Drake alls “Fundamentalists” named themselves by steeling the name “Conservatives”. That left true “Conservatives” stuck with the name “Moderates”.

Have you heard how the name “Fundamentalists” breaks down by rearranging the letters? (mentalists dam Fun):)

Drake’s “Boards and Seminary Trustees” that messed up the SBC mentions some of the 30 people that helped.

1. International Mission Board
In 1991 the IMB (Foreign Mission Board) voted to defund the Baptist Theological Seminary in Switzerland which broke a contract they had with them. In 1992, Keith Parks under pressure by Fundamentalist resigned his 13 years as president where missionaries entered 40 new countries with a total of 3,918 missionaries. [I’ve had meetings with Parks, and his wife said she believed every word I wrote on Wade’s blog.] :)

Parks argued the glue that held Baptists together was MISSIONS. Fundamentalists argued it was DOCTRIN and it became ‘Our way or the highway’.

2. Baptist Sunday School Board, BSSB
In 1992, Jimmy Draper #18 of NAMES became leader of the BSSB. 159 employees retired voluntarily or involuntary in one month.

3. Southwestern Baptist Seminary Trustees
In 1994, Russell Dilday completed 15 years of faithful service and the Seminary had its highest student enrollment. SWBTS trustees gave Russell Dilday a favorable job performance and the next day they fired him. They said we don’t have to have a reason. Later the trustees sent 40,000 letters to pastors and directors of missions explaining Dilday failed to support the takeover in the Convention.

4. Southern Baptist Seminary Trustees
In 1990 Trustees were controlled by fundamentalists. In 1993 Albert Mohler (#6 of NAMES) became president and hailed him as “a hero of SBC fundamentalism.”

5. Midwestern Baptist Seminary Trustees
They fired Professor Temp Sparkman in 1991 for supposedly teaching universalism.

6. Southeastern Baptist Seminary Trustees
They forced Randall Lolley to resign after voting to only hire faculty who followed their interpretation of the Baptist Faith and Message.

Rex Ray said...


I was named after my Uncle Rex that was a missionary to China 30 years. Before that he ran a lumberyard, and knew how important it was for everyone to know the ‘books’ or record of purchases and sales would be audited ever so often.

His first trip was to a Baptist hospital. After a while, he asked the head missionary who audited the books.

“We don’t waste money. We keep our own books.”

Rex hired a detective who found a warehouse full of hospital equipment. The missionary was going to retire that year and had ordered two of everything; one for the hospital and one for the warehouse. He was going to have his own hospital in America with the equipment from the warehouse.

The mission board took the equipment, but didn’t prosecute the guy and let him retire with honors. Said the truth would give Southern Baptist a ‘blackeye’.

Craig said...

Hi Wade,
Thanks for your blog.
I wonder if we could abandon the terminology "the dark continent of Africa."

I believe, the phrase perpetuates a faulty view of mission and our common ongoing unfolding participation in the Kingdom of God. Early in the history of the church we can read of the Gospel extending into the continent. The "modern missionary" movement was hardly the first to hold out the light of life in the continent of Africa.

So many issues tied up in that little phrase.

I've found two books helpful:
Dr. David Wilhite's book, Ancient African Christianity
and Dr. Willie Jessie Jennings' book, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race


Rex Ray said...


Yes, Africa has changed in their lack of acceptance of Jesus. 2013 was my last mission trip to Tokyo, Japan. The Tokyo Baptist Church had many people of different nationalities. In SS, Blacks from Africa thought America was a pagan nation.

Anonymous said...

"To the dark continent of Africa?" It is that the European mind was dark. The "dark" label was necessary to launch a civilizing mission to dark and subhuman Africans which in turn paved the way for colonialism. Evangelism was the means to pacify the population. I am simply stating a shameful historical fact without denying the sacrifices of missionaries.

It is telling that of the 22 preceding comments only Craig pointed out the inappropriateness of using "dark continent." The rest talked about issue relating to their sb denomination or few about benefits of tech. The emphasis in the writeup was on the Great white Moffat helping little black Africans.

The problem with sbc is primarily theological and cultural in-breeding (as the wrangling attests). That we have not moved an inch 200 years later is not a good sign for our future. Even with a younger generation in power the focus would remain largely "American" with little room for learning from Africans, Asians, Middle Easterners, or Latin Americans.

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