This week the seminary is hosting a huge missionary conference with speakers and people from all over the world. The theme is "Crossing New Borders - The Great Commission".
My heart is stirring within me from a few specific topics that have really touched me in the conference. Luis and I have been taking notes during each session and I just feel like I can't write fast enough to record everything I want to remember!!
The first thing that I want to share that is heavy on my heart is this:
1. The commandment in Matt. 28:19-20 says to "Go and Make Disciples"
* The commandment doesn't say to go and "evangelize" or go and "plant churches". (Jesus said that HE would build the church)
* The second part of the commandment says, "Teaching them to obey all that I (Christ) have taught you. Part of this means that as we disciple others, we need to teach them to also GO and MAKE DISCIPLES.
* This commandment is for THE WHOLE CHURCH - not just those people that we call
The second thing from that I want to share is something that I wish we would see more of. I hope that God will use Luis and I in this area. There is so much information on this topic that I filled 8 full pages of notes. And I still wasn't satisfied after that. I want to know more. I asked the speaker (Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko from Nigeria) to send me his notes and he suggested that we talk more over lunch tomorrow. Luis and I couldn't stop talking after that session about what the speaker said and how we've seen it applied in our lives.
2. How to send missionaries from the context of poverty.
ERRR...there's so much to say and learn about this that I don't even know how to begin condensing it into important points that I want to share. But I guess the first thing that I will say is a quote from Dr. Bogunjoko.
"The question: How to send missionaries from a context of poverty is an acknowledgement that missionary sending has been heavily influenced by financial means. The problem of missions from Rich to Poor as against Biblical mission from followers of Jesus Christ to the lost is a pervasive influence of money at the expense of deep biblical reflection."
We have all seen this played out in some way or another. Dr. Bogunjoko says that not everything done from a context of wealth is wrong. And not everything done from a context of poverty is right. There has to be a balance. But what about the "missionaries" that begin a project in a third world country - if it advances then they slowly establish relationships with the "nationals". If it fails then so many of them go back to their home country and the "nationals" never hear from them again. There was never a relationship established, and discipleship didn't exist. Since no one was discipled, no one is obeying the command to make disciples. Thankfully this is not always the case. This is just the worst of the cases.
What saddens me deeply is that the missionary culture of today uses the words, "missionaries" and "nationals". Jesus didn't call the people "nationals". He called them "Brethen".
OOOHH...there are so many other things said that I could spend all day writing them down!!! Why is it that someone coming from a rich country (Canada for example) could easily go to the U.S. to raise support - No problem. But if you are from Costa Rica and go to the U.S. to raise support then you are looked upon as "dependent".
Exploring a way forward: We need to take ownership of the mandate to "Make Disciples" and change the culture, starting with discipleship in the church. For those who don't have money - there needs to be a communal approach and concept of training, where a number of churches or mission agencies come together to train their missionaries in the community. There is the non-cash approach. I don't have money but I raise chickens and I want to support you in that way. I don't have cash but I do have this cow....etc. etc. the cooperative approach - prayer. The direct transfer relationship based approach. And the mediator approach. In the west the people are used to going from church to church to raise support to be sent out as missionaries. Dr. Bogunjoko says that in his context of Nigeria their approach seems to be far more affective. It is the mediator approach. Someone that knows your work goes to speak for you ...there is more credibility that way.
Ultimately poverty needs to be defined as a lack of relationship with Jesus Christ - not as a lack of finances. The worst kind of poverty is the absence of Shalom.
AND the ultimate example of serving as a missionary out of the context of poverty was the great missionary Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ. He could have had mansions and riches on earth but instead He chose to have no place to lay His head.
Anways this may sound like blah blah blah to you....I'm sorry if it does!!! But I am learning here...and one of the best ways for me to learn is to immediately share it with others. So comments are appreciated. There is so much I left out and don't have time to go into - things that we talked about from the Bible - but if you have any thoughts on "sending out missionaries from the context of poverty" or thoughts on changing our view of a "missionary" please share them with me!