This new situation also has consequences for how we think about mission. The most obvious is that mission is no longer a Western monopoly or privilege.
If you are involved in short-term mission and you don’t read this, then you are not taking your job seriously enough!
Some thoughts on what makes for good aid and development projects with implications for evangelism and Bible translation.
For decades now, we have seen the same stereotypical images of the Global South in both the media and in fundraising campaigns. It reinforces the image of people as “exotic other”. We believe that these images create apathy, rather than action.
‘I have little doubt as to the good intentions of the vast majority of mission efforts from the North to the South today. I do doubt whether many practitioners in the North understand what is happening in the South.’
I am not calling for an end to mercy ministries. I am calling for them to be made better. I am calling for them to be more reciprocal, less one sided and thought of more as a stepping stone on the road to serious Christian discipleship within the local church.
Not everything that claims to be Christian witness is actually effective or even comprehensible to other people. It’s also true that not all forms of aid or financial support are effective in helping the people they are aimed at; in fact some forms of outside development aid can actually be harmful.
However, while trying to be balanced and charitable, I do have one huge problem with the whole Band Aid thing; it portrays Africans as people who need things doing for them and aren’t able to address their own problems. Of the six countries which have been affected by the current Ebola outbreak, two (Senegal and Nigeria) have contained it effectively (which is more than the USA managed) and Mali seems to be on top of it.
The uncomfortable message in this video is applicable to Christian mission as much as it is to the wider development world. There is a role for expat missionaries and volunteers in Africa, but that role is working alongside local people, under their leadership and responding to their realities. Not taking pre-packaged solutions from the West.
“The Church’s mission is to participate in God’s mission to restore the whole creation and all of human life. If the scope of salvation is as broad as creation, our participation must equally broad. The gospel is a gospel of the kingdom – the restoration of God’s rule over the world. The church is a sign, foretaste and instrument of the kingdom of God in the world…”