In Edmund Morris’ excellent work, COLONEL ROOSEVELT, he made an interesting point.* During the Victorian Age, many in Europe and even in the United States, held up David Livingstone as an excellent example of a foreign missionary. (Livingstone was a medical missionary sent to Africa by the London Missionary Society.)
Morris, as an aside in his book, notes this about Livingstone, “The Victorian era’s saintly missionary converted only one African, who subsequently reverted to paganism.”
I have not documented Morris’ assessment, but that is beside the point. Morris speaks for secular society. The assumption behind Morris’ quote is that the foremost objective for missionaries is convert people and make them disciples of Jesus. They may not like us for it, but they respect us for it.
Good works are good, but they are subservient to the greater goal of reuniting people with God. Sometimes, Christians forget this. This scores us few points with our friends outside of Christianity. As Morris demonstrates, our friends are holding us to a higher standard, whether we are or not.
*Page 665, footnote “284 Like David Livingstone”