Majority world missionaries serve in countries throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America, accomplishing much of global missions work. But these missionaries often lack the support and training they need to best reach others around them.
In the following excerpt from Christian Mission, an award-winning book from Lexham Press, you can learn more about what it’s like to be a majority world missionary. And at the bottom, we’ll suggest some ways you can pray for them based on the book.
Majority world missionaries include African, Asian, and Latin American global workers who are sent out as official missionaries from their local churches and possibly through a mission organization. Often formally trained in a theological seminary or mission training institute, they self-identify as missionaries at least in their home countries.
Peruvian missiologist Samuel Escobar argues that for every Latin American missionary sent out as an official missionary in the twentieth century, another 10 Latinos migrated for work. This second group shared their faith, made disciples, planted churches, and participated in mission. Though these immigrants do not self-identify as missionaries or religious workers, they clearly contribute to the task of global mission.
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Training, resources, care
While the younger churches of the non-Western world are embracing global mission with zeal, many have not received appropriate cross-cultural and missiological training. This is especially true for diaspora believers who are not going out as missionaries in an official sense.
Many majority world missionaries also go to the field with a lack of adequate financial resources. While, on one hand, poor missionaries might connect better with the poor on their mission field, on the other hand, lack of resources may result in discouragement, burnout, and the need to return home.
Non-Western missionaries often lack member or missionary care—pastoral care from home church or agencies for missionaries—which might cut short their cross-cultural ministry. This strategy of providing care, counseling, and support is still rather new for Western mission organizations. So it is not a surprise that Latin American, Asian, and African Christians also lack this needed care.
Some majority world missionaries are unable to partner with other Christian workers in a country because of language barriers. Typically, English is the common language for the mission community in most contexts in the world. This poses challenges for missionaries who speak only Spanish, Portuguese, or Chinese. Some non-Westerners have chosen to learn English to bridge this barrier. However, this choice requires an investment of time and energy away from learning the national language.
Finally, while non-Western missionaries may not have the political baggage of Western workers, they do lack political leverage and might face more discrimination from local authorities. If a missionary from a powerful Western country is arrested for leading a Bible study, she may receive a warning or, at worst, be expelled from the country. In the same scenario, a Filipino believer might be imprisoned and denied any legal due process. Majority world missionaries certainly labor from a posture of vulnerability.
5 prayer prompts
- Ask God to protect majority world missionaries from local authorities.
- Pray that missionaries will have the funds and resources to pursue language training, and that they’ll learn quickly and communicate clearly.
- Ask God to help missionaries find the theological and spiritual training they need for their work.
- Pray for strong relationships between missionaries and their sending churches.
- Pray for those missionaries not supported by a sending church or missions agency—that they’ll develop strong Christian friendships and have the financial resources they need to keep reaching others.
Christian Mission, recently selected by Outreach Magazine as an Outreach Resource of the Year (2019) in the Cross-Cultural and Missional category and winner of a Book Award of Merit for Missions from Christianity Today, is available from Lexham Press. Get your copy today.
This post is adapted from Christian Mission by Edward L. Smither, available now through Lexham Press. The headings and title of this post are the additions of the editor. The author’s views do not necessarily represent those of Faithlife.