ICYMI: Our Most Read Articles of 2018

At imb.org, we strive to bring you content that will stir up your love for the nations and a desire to see God glorified among them. Our goal is to publish helpful resources that will equip you and your church to obey the Great Commission around the world. This year, we brought you articles about sending churches, spiritual disciplines, missionaries you should know, world religions, and global missions through the Bible—and several of these series will continue into 2019.

In addition to these series, our most popular articles of this year covered a wide range of topics. Some covered topics that hit close to home for many—topics like pornography addiction and racial issues. Others were informative, helping you understand the basics of other religions, cultures, and customs. Still others covered theological and missiological issues. Here are our most widely read articles of 2018.

Pornography Addiction

In two articles, Keelan Cook and Greg Handley tackled a pervasive problem that is slowly coming into the light in local churches—that of pornography addiction. Pornography is a problem on the mission field, as well, and negatively impacts the work of missionaries who struggle with it. Cook and Handley offered words of encouragement and exhortation to those who are struggling.

World Religions: Islam and Hinduism

Christianity is the largest religion in the world, followed closely by Islam and Hinduism. Our World Religions series offered two articles with videos, infographics, and other information that explained the basics of Islam and Hinduism. Though both of these religions are complex and multifaceted, these articles can help you better understand your Muslim and Hindu neighbors.

Salvation Bracelets in Africa? No, Thanks.

If you grew up in the church, it’s likely you made a salvation bracelet at some point in your childhood. Although these bracelets may be useful for sharing the gospel in the US, they don’t necessarily translate overseas—especially in Africa where color, beads, and bracelets all symbolize vastly different things. In an article especially helpful for short-term mission teams, Melanie Clinton explains why salvation bracelets should not be used as an evangelism tool in Africa. Instead, she suggests some appropriate, effective alternatives.

Amy Carmichael’s Secret to Fighting Discouragement

As a single female missionary to India, Amy Carmichael served for fifty-five years, the last twenty of which she became bedridden with chronic and debilitating pain. Through reading Carmichael’s book Gold by Moonlight, Eliza Thomas was encouraged by Carmichael’s joy in all circumstances, a joy that was sustained through saturation in Scripture, delight in the presence of God, the support of a Christian community, and the glorious beauty of the natural world.

What Happened to the Seven Churches of Revelation?

Madeline Arthington and Karrie Sparrow jumped at the chance to visit the Seven Churches of Revelation—yes, the same churches to which John wrote in the aforementioned book of the Bible. You may not know that all of these churches are located in modern-day Turkey. These churches are, of course, mostly in ruins and surrounded by modern-day cities, which have built up around them. But the history there is rich and significant for believers. This photo gallery illustrates just that.

Bad Religion—How 3 American Heresies Impact Missions at Home and Abroad

Bad Religion, by Ross Douthat, describes three heresies that were on the rise in America in 2013, all of which seem to only be increasingly influential: the prosperity gospel, Christian nationalism, and God-within theology. Douthat called for American churches to reclaim the message of the true gospel. Though Ross Douthat penned Bad Religion almost six years ago, Caleb Cohen writes of its significance to missions today. Not only do these heresies impact American Christians, but Cohen also explains how each school of thought has infiltrated our understanding and practice of missions abroad.

Understanding the Veil: A Primer in Muslim Women’s Head Coverings

Muslim women are often identified by their conservative dress and head coverings, which are worn as both a symbol of modesty and out of obedience to Allah’s commands in the Qur’an. But did you know you can often distinguish between different Islamic cultures by observing the different variations of Muslim women’s head coverings? This article, accompanied by a photo gallery, explores the most common styles of hijab around the world.

Missions Helped Me See White Privilege

Jaclyn Parrish wasn’t sure how the term white privilege applied to her until she spent time overseas in a variety of contexts. She, a white woman, stood out in the non-white cultures in which she visited, and the experience wasn’t always positive. But because of this, she began to wonder if how she felt overseas was the same way her non-white friends felt at home. Here, Jaclyn describes how missions helped open her eyes to her own white privilege and helped her become a better listener to the voices of non-white brothers and sisters around her.

Let’s Rethink Our Language of “Calling”

The idea of calling is certainly found in Scripture, but is the way we use calling language today extra-biblical? Greg Handley discusses three dangers he sees with contemporary calling language, especially when we make a calling experience like Paul’s a necessary requirement for missions involvement. He suggests a different paradigm for how to think about the call to missions.

The Curse of Ham: How Bad Scripture Interpretation Inspired Genocide

In 1994, a tragic genocide destroyed thousands of lives among the Rwandan Tutsis and Hutus. Political and social unrest contributed to the loss of so many lives, but Eliza Thomas explores Emmanuel Katongole’s suggestion that the misinterpretation and misapplication of the Curse of Ham (Gen. 9) may also have contributed to the genocide. She gives guidelines for how we can learn from this misuse of Scripture.

Go Means Go: A Closer Look at the Great Commission

Robert Wells V takes a closer look at Matthew 28:18–20—also known as the Great Commission—and a new(er) interpretation of the word go. Does go really mean “as you are going?” Wells says no . . . with some qualifiers. He cautions readers against misinterpreting Scripture and even gives a short explanation of the original Greek grammar. While certainly, all believers should be making disciples right where they are, many are still called to literally go.

The Very Best Advice from the Very Worst Missionary

In this review of The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever, Jaclyn Parrish explores the merits and shortcomings of Jamie Wright’s blog-turned-book. Wright is not your typical missionary, and though much of what she says in her book mirrors orthodox teaching and methodology, ultimately the syncretistic gospel Wright follows falls short of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Meredith Cook is a content editor for the International Mission Board. She has an MDiv in missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Find her on Twitter @MeredithCook716.