And There Is No Such Thing As "Reverse Mission"
Mission is God's initiative in seeking the lost for reconciliation. All believers black or white are mandated of such mission. Whichever direction this takes depends on where it starts from as long as the salvaging mission of God is accomplished.
I dipped my toe into these waters last week in a paper I gave in Zomba. I have much to learn. Thanks for the provocations to keep thinking about this.
Reverse Mission? The Labels still thinking about that
Thanks Harvey. Always thought provoking. I think “reverse” is just phrase coined to describe a contrast in missions today in which former, traditional missions fields are now mission forces and bringing the gospel back to nations that were traditional missions sending countries. I don’t think it is a technical term and if not helpful, I agree, don’t use it. I agree that rarely happens but do you think it is so far fetched? Is it different than other minority groups who have oppressed by majority cultures taking the gospel to those cultures? I think it can, has, and should if we are to have mission from everywhere to everywhere.
I have also used the term “reverse mission” (maybe wrongly) to describe diaspora missions of Christian’s in one part of the world (my context is UK) going back to one’s country of cultural/ethnic origin. Ie British Nigerian fueling missions back to unreached/needed places in Nigeria for example and the strategic role they could play). What do you think of that? Look forward to out next chat. J
Hello Dr Kwiyani, thank you for your newsletter and stimulating fascinating thoughts each time. Your book ‘Multicultural Kingdom’ was a huge inspiration and encouragement for me as I worked on my MA diss on how the western church can learn from an East Asian theological openness to the spirit world, i.e. how discerning the Spirit(s) can benefit the western church to thrive in a post-Enlightenment, postmodern society.
As a Singaporean Chinese who was raised in Japan as a missionary kid, but whose educational and theological upbringing has been thoroughly westernised (specifically an Americanised form of conservative evangelicalism and then pentecostalism), and who now lives in and is called to the UK as a missionary, I’ve found myself in what may be seen as an ideal position for cross-/inter-cultural mission due to the fact that I am so westernised and therefore able to reach westerners. However, in the past few years I’ve begun a journey to embrace more fully my East Asian heritage and to reconcile it with my faith so that I’m not just a ‘westerner’ reaching out to westerners. On one hand, I value developing trust and rapport with Brits (primarily as a worship pastor) by demonstrating that I understand and fit well with them; on the other, it’s been a battle to not relegate myself to simply being a ‘good immigrant’ and compromising unnecessarily the East Asian parts of myself that might make westerners uncomfortable just by virtue of being ‘different’.
Do you have any advice for me as a westernised East Asian who admittedly is still in the process of embracing my East Asianness, but who desires to be true to all the different cultural mixes that compose my multifarious identity whilst serving in a western mission field trying to be all things to all people? How ‘western’ (assimilation) or ‘East Asian’ (rock the boat) should/can I be in the modern-day context of Britain, or am I destined to forever wrestle with holding both in tension; and if the latter, how do I continue to precariously navigate the benefits and pitfalls of both facets of my identity with wisdom and godly discernment?
On another note, I agree with your critique of the notion of ‘reverse missions’. I really appreciated your reference in ‘Multicultural Kingdom’ to the concept of ‘blessed reflex’ – is that a term you prefer?
Thank you for your time!
Thank you Dr Harvey for this insightful piece. Your writings form part of the ways the African Church will be enabled/ to reach the western world
The European missionaries in the 18th-20th centuries had their challenges in reaching the African world then. It was not on a silver platter. The perils of the African weather, the unbelief of our African fathers, the darkness of the understanding of the Africans towards the gospel just to mention but a few are some of the challenges the European missionaries also encountered. However, with the right attitudes (patience, resilience, conviction) and the right methods (education, community engagement, medicine etc) they were able to reach the African world with the Gospel.
In the 21st century also the African Church in their quest to reach the western world with the Gospel face the challenges of racism, secularism, poverty, inferiority complex etc etc. I think with the right attitudes (perserverance,team work, faith in the Lord who has called us) the right methods (learning the culture or context of the world we are sent to, social engagement, embracing research into African theology in the western world), I BELIEVE THE AFRICAN CHURCH CAN CROSS CULTURALLY REACH THE WESTERN WORLD.
Thank you for your writings. I cherish them deeply.