Come Over Here and Help Us

8 02 2008

The world of missions work is changing. As inhabitants of Western Europe, we must acknowledge that the greater majority of Christians in the world are from non-European, non-westernised roots; and that while the Church in our part of the globe is not experiencing the growth and blessing that it once enjoyed, there are remarkable signs of gospel spread and health in other lands.

All of this affects the way in which we view mission. In a fascinating article in Evangelical Missions Quarterly in January 2005 Miguel Palomino (originally from Peru) writes about ‘Lessons from Latino Missionaries to Europe’. He writes that ‘new missionary winds are blowing into Europe from Latin America. The rapidly growing and maturing Latino church is fostering a vigorous, indigenous missionary movement that is at work in nations once regarded solely as missionary-senders’. He classes these Latino workers into three categories (itinerant missionaries, informal missionaries, conventional missionaries) and deals honestly with the benefits and difficulties which these individuals can bring to the Church in the West. Often these folks carry a zeal and love for the Lord which is sadly lacking in our own Church culture, but do not at the same time enjoy the same benefits of training and missiological exposure which is enjoyed by their European brothers and sisters.

All of this makes the phrase ‘come over here and help us’ reflexive, and it is amazing to think of the implications which this simple request now carries in terms of modern missions.

It demands humility from the Western Church, to admit that we are in dire need of help from those of our brothers and sisters who are experiencing God’s special blessing on their work. We can no longer think in terms of our land being solely ‘senders’, but must become ‘receivers’ from places where traditionally our own missionaries have gone to serve God. The centre of gravity in the body of Christ is no longer found in our own part of the world. We may be the ones who need a story to be brought from the nations that will turn our hearts to the right!!

It also demands mutuality. We can no longer think of them and us, but must itemise our missiological concerns in collective terms. Partnership in our current evangelical climate cannot be the benign handing on of responsibility to brothers and sisters in other cultures, but must literally mean a mutual dignity being invested by all Christians for the fulfillment of Christ’s commissions in all nations.

It also demands flexibility. My wife Carolyn and I are going to serve God in Peru, and we are grateful to Him for His call to that land. We feel a passion for God’s people in Peru burning in our hearts, and are eager to work for Him there. But could it be as we work with the national Peruvian church that the investment of training into local believers might be to meet global as well as parochial concerns? The sons and daughters of Peru must ultimately be the ones to lead the national church there, but they may also be required of God to come ‘here’ to bring the Good News of Christ to pagan Britain! This adds depth and dimension to the missionary task, and blows apart many traditional paradigms of ministry.

Come over here and help us’. How we need to simultaneously heed and issue this call for the glory of Christ in the world!

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