A Global Vision

Should all Western missionaries pull out of Asia forever? Of course not. God still sovereignly calls Western missionaries to do unique and special tasks in Asia. But we must understand that when it comes to in which Western missionaries are no longer able to do church planting as past eras allowed, the priority must then be to support efforts of indigenous mission works through financial aid and intercessory prayer….

“There are times in history,” writes Dennis E. Clark in The Third World and Mission , “when however gifted a person may be, he can no longer effectively proclaim the Gospel to those of another culture. A German could not have done so in Britain in 1941 nor could an Indian in Pakistan during the war of 1967, and it will be extremely difficult for Americans to do so in the Third World of the 1980s and 1990s.” This is much more true — and the situation is even worse — today….

The principle I argue for is this: We believe the most effective way now to win Asia for Christ is through prayer and financial support for the native missionary force that God is raising up in the Two-Thirds World. As a general rule, for the following reasons I believe it wiser to support native missionaries in their own lands than to send Western missionaries.

One, it is wise stewardship. According to Bob Granholm, forever executive director of Frontiers in Canada, it costs between $25,000 to $30,000 per year to support a missionary on the mission field. Although this may be true for ministries like Frontiers, Operation Mobilization, Youth With A Mission, and a few other organizations, in my research with more traditional agencies, the cost may be much higher. One mission organization estimates it costs between $80,000 per yar to keep a missionary couple in India. With even a modest inflation rate of three percent, this cost will exceed $100,000 in less than 10 years….

In India, for only the cost of flying an American from New York to Bombay, a native missionary already on the field can minister for years!…

Two, in many places the presence of Western missionaries perpetuates the myth that Christianity is the religion of the West. Bob Granholm states, “While the current internationalization of the missionary task force is a very encouraging development, it is often wiser to not have a western face on the efforts to extend the Kingdom.”…

A friend of mine who heads a missionary organization similar to ours recently told me the story of a conversation he had with some African church leaders.

“We want to evangelize our people,” they said,” but we can’t do it so long as the white missionaries remain. Our people won’t listen to us. The communists and the Muslims tell them all white missionaries are spies sent out by our government as agents for the capitalistic imperialists. We know it isn’t true, but newspapers reports tell of how some missionaries are getting funds from the CIA. We love the American missionaries in the Lord. We wish they could stay, but our only hope for us to evangelize our own country is for all the white missionaries to leave.”…

Three, Western missionaries, and the money they bring, compromise the natural growth and independence of the national Church

(taken from Revolution in World Missions, Chapter 18, A Global Vision by K.P. Yohannan. Visit the website at Gospel for Asia .)