I have recently been contemplating some of the realities of the contemporary missionary movement. We are in a new era, an era where being a citizen of the USA is no longer an asset in many parts of the world. It is a reality to be considered. We must remember that we, as Americans, are not the only instrument available to God for the furtherance of the gospel. Is it time to step back, evaluate, and perhaps look for new ways to evangelize? There are many places where someone else, someone of another nationality, would be better received. If our purpose is to reach as many souls as possible, perhaps we need to remove ourselves from the situation and uphold other Christians as they can continue to preach and be heard, long after we are denied access to certain people and places.
I am not saying we should not spread the gospel to dangerous places. I have put myself and my family in dangerous places many times, when it seemed necessary for the ministry. I have seen my children suffer with diseases they would never have contracted had we lived in the USA. We have been in shoot outs, walked through tear gas, had tanks on the streets outside our house, all in order to preach and teach a people of the Glory of God. But there comes a time when our presence alone is detrimental to the furtherance of the gospel. Officials in Venezuela told us our white skin and blue eyes made us unwelcome.
There are times when the missionary has to step back and consider the costs. Not just personal cost, but the overall cost to the church.
Is my presence a hindrance?
Is association with me, as a foreigner, going to cause repercussions among the native church people?
Am I staying due to a of a false sense of pride?
Am I harming the ministry of another by remaining too long?
There are places that have not yet heard the good news.
Should the missionary use mission assets to remain where he is not accepted, when perhaps another place is more willing and open at this time?
Remember the disciples "shaking the dust from their feet"?
Remember Paul allowing himself to be lowered over the walls to escape danger in order to continue to preach elsewhere?
The modern day missionary movement is now centuries old, should we not see more mission efforts from other nationalities?
Should not a missionary work himself out of his job and turn the ministry over to the indigenous or national?
Should the missionary then move on to another needy area where his resources are more needed?
Hard questions. Any thoughts?
I am not questioning our personal calling to Latin America. I am thinking of places such as Venezuela where an American missionary was recently deported from an area where perhaps a national would not have been. Could this cause repercussions for the nationals involved with this same ministry? Are some things best left to the national?
The mood here in Paraguay is so open to the American and the people are asking for help, that it has revealed the lack of acceptance to the American missionary the last few years in Venezuela. Put it into perspective! The general mood on the street is totally different here. There is a much more open door for ministry. Being here has shown that to me in a great way. I had forgotten the feeling of such freedom.