Equipping and Resourcing of Asian Mission Movements

Author: Dr Jacob Thomas, Lecturer in Missiology, Belfast Bible College.


From long and painful experience the Church in Asia-Pacific has learned one thing: mission is not political, economic, and least of all ecclesiastical colonialism which is brought from outside into “mission areas”; be it from the West or be it now from the North. [1]

May I invite you to New Delhi, November (5-8) 1999 when Pope Johannes Paulus II, on his second visit to India, made the following remarks: “The peoples of Asia need Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Asia is thirsting for the Living Water that Jesus alone can give.” Such bold assertions, as critics described them, understandably raised quite a stir in India. On the 7th of November, after offering floral tributes at the Samadhi (final resting place) of Mahatma Gandhi, he wrote in the guest book of the memorial that “A culture cannot survive if it attempts to be exclusive.” This quote borrowed from Gandhi, was personally signed as Johannes Paulus II. The next day, November 8, during the Papal High Mass he stated, “The First millennium saw the Cross planted in the soil of Europe and the Second in America and Africa. May the Third Christian Millennium witness a great harvest of faith on this vast and vital continent.” Some in India insisted that this was part of the „secret agenda‟ of aggressive Christian imperialism towards evangelisation and conversion of the peoples of Asia. [2]
Such reactions and responses, rather typical within Asia, help us identify the ongoing „lovehate‟ relationship of Gospel and Culture in different parts of Asia. The proactive „love relationship‟ unravels an outstanding history of transforming mission while the growing opposition unleashes violence even in a secular [equal rights to every religion] democratic country like India. Links with a „Christian‟ colonial past reinforces the hostility towards Christianity which is viewed as an alien corrupting influence that exploited several Asian cultures and societies.

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