Though the methods have varied from one generation to another, Friends have always been interested in sharing their faith. A keen sense of mission carried the first generation of Quakers quickly over most of the then-known world. In 1656, they arrived in New England. In the 1700's the methods were quieter, but the message was spread. The evangelical movement of the 1800's stimulated Quaker interest in missions, in which New England Friends Eli and Sybil Jones, working in Jordan, were pioneers. During the twentieth century, many Friends have regarded service and relief activities as a further way of sharing their Quaker faith through loving action.
At the beginning of the 1980's, Friends World Committee for Consultation reported almost 200,000 Friends in the world, with approximately 118,000 of them in North America, 39,000 in Africa, 22,000 in Europe, 13,000 in Central and South America, 3,300 in Asia, 2,000 in Australia and New Zealand, and 100 in the Middle East. This world family, with all its diversity of culture, practice, and language, still feels called to share its Quaker faith with seekers everywhere.
Walk Cheerfully Over the World
Let all nations hear the word by sound or writing. Spare no place, spare not tongue nor pen; but be obedient to the Lord God and go through the work and be valiant for the Truth upon earth; tread and trample all that is contrary under. Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.
George Fox: Journal, ed. John L. Nickalls, 1952, p. 263 (entry for 1656).
Let Your Lives Speak
In the fulfillment of our fundamental responsibility of bringing men and women to God there are openings for every Friend. Some have gifts that will help those with spiritual problems; other are better equipped to meet intellectual difficulties; all must strive for a rich and joyous fellowship in the meetings into which we should draw seeking souls. We must go out to those around us in a spirit of love and prayer, letting our lives speak.
London Y. M. Proc., 1953, Min. 17, p. 253.
Have We "Good News"?
The early Friends were fully assured that they had a message for all men not merely that one or another of their testimonies was specially relevant to their own time, but that their message in its totality, in its wholeness, was God's good news for all sorts and conditions of men. "Have you anything to declare?" is a vital challenge to which every one of us is personally called to respond and is also a challenge that every meeting should consider of primary importance. It should lead us to define, with such clarity as we can reach, precisely what it is that Friends of this generation have to say that is not, as we believe, being said effectively by others. What, indeed, have we to declare to this generation that is of sufficient importance to justify our separate existence as part of the Christian fellowship? If we regard the Society of Friends merely as an ethical society we have no message for a world that is bursting with sin and sorrow and suffering. It is insufficient merely to offer palliatives to physical suffering, important and necessary as they are. There are those whose needs are on a different level and we should covet to have for these others at least an equal concern. Have we "good news" for them?
Edgar G. Dunstan: Quakers and the religious quest (Swarthmore lecture), 1956, pp. 60-1.
We Must Go When We Are Sent
To whom and when shall we go? The answer is very simple we must go, and only go, when we are sent, and go where people are and especially "where there are no Friends" maybe into an emperor's parlour to talk and pray with him as Stephen Grellet did; into a war-stricken area or into a miner's kitchen. The Lord has a great and wide service for Friends to do, and never more than now. The market crosses still stand for us to occupy, the friendly pulpit, the disused meeting house, the town or country Friends living room. We must begin again, where people are, seeking them out, confident in the divine power of our Gospel to lift men out of disillusionment, despair, dishonour and inhumanity into the new day of truth, mutual trust, decency and hope.
John A. Hughes: The light of Christ in a pagan world (Swarthmore lecture), 1940, pp. 95-6.
Planting a Seed
Quakerism, in its essence, is not a system; it is a spirit. If we could get back to the living experience of the early days, all that would be needed would be to go out and communicate it, and leave the results with God. This is exactly the point of view from which we ought to work in a mission field, planting a seed, not setting up a system. The creed, the ritual, the organisation, if needed at all, would develop normally in order to clothe the living organism, to give stability or coherence, a totally different thing from their being superimposed as part of the essence of a "foreign religion". The task is not to be measured by the numbers who are in religious fellowship with Friends. Let us rather measure it by the greatness of the truths for which they stand.
Henry T Hodgkin: Friends beyond the seas, 1916, pp. 227, 238.