Friday, July 25, 2008

"Pecking Order" in World Missions

In world missions today, it seems like we are only expected to reach out to those poorer than us. If God were to call us to a richer country like America, Australia or Europe, it will be close to impossible to convince our supporters that our call is genuine. I doubt if our missions sending agency will approve our application for appointment to these richer countries. There seems to be some unconscious trickle-down strategy where the richer countries will reach the poorer countries while these poorer countries are expected to reach even poorer countries. This gives rise to a kind of pecking order in missions partnerships, where the wealthiest nations are on the top of this pecking order.

I think it is important for us not to confuse the missionary enterprise with the work NGO agencies do today. Our agenda is primarily not socio-economic. Our motivation is not mere human compassion but divine commission. We are all given the same commission and we should all come together as equal partners. No one should need to feel that they are at the bottom of some pecking order.

However, socio-economic realities remain. So, if indeed you are called to a richer country, do not expect many people to share your enthusiasm. It may be just as well that you cannot rely on human support. After all, it should NOT be by might, nor by power . . . but by the Spirit of God! I have a brother and a couple of Malaysian friends who are ministering in Melbourne. Almost no one considers them as missionaries. They are looked upon as economic emigrants. But, the spiritual needs in Melbourne are just as great as - if not greater than - in Malaysia. Moon Tee and I have seen the ministry that my brother and our Malaysian friends in Melbourne are doing. It is difficult to imagine that God has NOT called them there.

Let us at least have an open-mind on this issue. Must mainland Chinese Christians ALWAYS be called back to mainland China, Vietnamese Christians ALWAYS be called back to Vietnam, etc.? Let us begin to consider the possibility that God may want to release the immense potential (at least in terms of numbers, in the case of China) of the church in these countries into the mission field. We want to welcome them as equal partners in the missionary enterprise. They should not need to start at the bottom of the "pecking order."


Ekaputra Tupamahu said...

Wow... this is really an interesting thought. I think perhaps we ofter too much relate overseas mission with money. It is always about bringing money from a richer country to a poorer country. I absolutely agree with you, the main purpose of our call is to bring the Gospel, and not to bring money.

Steve Forsberg said...

I live in a major metropolitan area of the upper midwest US. Five miles from my place is a very successful Nigerian mission church plant that runs 200 to 250 in Sunday attendance.

The largest Evangelical church in Europe is founded and pastored by a Nigerian.

For every missionary that goes into Nigeria, Nigeria sends out five missionaries.

How are the Nigerians doing it?