Thursday, July 07, 2011

Frontier Missions: Foolhardy?

I came home from my recent international trip with doubts that sending a team of Americans to be church-planters in the host city would be the best approach to engaging the less-reached Muslim community living there. Since nobody in the American churches was expressing much interest in going - literally no one in the pipeline - wouldn’t a funding, praying, learning, or partnering strategy make more sense than a sending strategy? Wouldn’t it be better to “adopt” the people group as a focus and explore all the ministry options without committing to "sending our own people” to work among them?

For some reason I was surprised, though, how many of the local Christian leaders we met in our host city seemed to think that bringing in more Americans was a bad idea. They didn’t like the idea of starting new churches, either. (What was wrong with the churches already there?)

On our return to the States a seasoned mission leader exhorted us with the following words. I've continued to chew on them ever since.
“That the existing Christians are wary, think church-planting with Muslims is foolhardy, especially by foreigners, is NORMAL. That is how it is everywhere among congregations of non-Muslim background people. "Peace at any price" even if it means letting the Muslims go into a Christless eternity!

“Are Americans ideal for church-planting there? Of course not. But neither is any other nationality. Every nationality is a trade-off, [with] pluses and minuses -- including the [majority population] who have been the enemy of Muslims for centuries! We still do not know of anyone seeking to birth a church among the ____________ and extremely few ________ are going to be drawn into the existing churches. Therefore, I would appeal to you to ‘go for it.’”
When do you press ahead, and when do you listen to those who tell you your idea is "foolhardy"?

See also: Missionary Not Welcome (Ernest Goodman)

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