Modern Missionaries: From Everywhere To Everywhere

 
 

When the word “missionary” is mentioned, Asians visualize a Western face.  It is a good testimony to the faithful services of Western missionaries in Asia for a long time.  We must thank God for the sacrifices of these missionaries; however, it is high time for all to recognize that mission work seen as the exclusive labor of Westerners is a myth today.  The power and authority Western churches had on the missionary enterprise have been on the decline for a number of years now.

In 1900, 81 percent of Christians in the world were White.  Due to the sacrificial work and faithful labor of Westerners, Christianity spread across the East and the South.  By the year 2000, only 55 percent of the world’s Christians were White.  Today Christianity is fast growing outside its traditional home bases in the West.  Most of the growth is in Asia and Africa.  Christian faith was once seen as a Western religion.  That is not the case today, although there are still people who choose to think of Christianity as the White man’s religion.

In 1900, Africa had only 8.7 million Christians.  This was only 9 percent of Africa’s population.  Africa had four times more Muslims at that time.  In 1962, as colonialism was coming to an end, African Christianity reached 60 million members.  By 2000, it had risen to 350 millions.  Notice that the explosive growth of Christianity took place only after the colonists left.

One-third of the population of South Korea today is Christian.  Although America is still the number one missionary sending nation, when one considers the other sending nations together, the majority of missionaries are now non-Americans.  If the current trend continues, South Korea may beat America in the near future in terms of the number of missionaries sent out.

The well-known book, The Next Christendom, written by Professor Philip Jenkins, stated the obvious:  The color of Christianity has changed from White to Brown and Black.  Once the capital of Christianity was Rome or Constantinople, but Christianity’s center of gravity has now shifted from the Northern hemisphere to the Southern hemisphere.

This is not pleasant news to Western Christians.  They are still learning to deal with this new reality.  They still hold significant power; however, with the rising of developing nations, more power is likely to move south.  The official count of Christians in China is 100 million, but many experts believe that there are actually 300 million Christians in China.  Christianity is still growing in the West, but at a slower rate than in the East and South.

The issue is not whether Westerners or Easterners are in charge of world missions.  The time has come for missionaries to go from everywhere to everywhere.  This trend has already begun.  The two largest churches in England are pastored by immigrants from Africa and South America respectively.   The largest church in Kiev, Ukraine, is led by a Nigerian.  These are not churches by the immigrants and for the immigrants.  They are open to all, and most attendees are locals.

This is high time for the immigrant churches to consider how long they will close their church doors to the natives of their adopted countries.  This is a crucial question; especially if this is the final hour and God’s ultimate purpose for the current worldwide immigration is the evangelization of the world.

God needs Western missionaries and Eastern missionaries.  He is looking for people from the North and the South to carry the good news of Jesus Christ to the rest of the world.  He needs speakers and workers, preachers and professionals.  God’s plans for the world will be fulfilled only when disciples of Jesus will go from everywhere to everywhere and bear witness to Christ.  Only that will guarantee that people from every nation, tribe, and language will sing His praises at the impending gathering of saints. 

[From the book What Will Your Tombstone Say?]

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