- Partnering with Nationals
80% of all evangelical Christians today live outside the Western world. This massive, vital Christian force is not sitting idly by waiting for others to finish the job. Nearly anywhere you go in mission today, you will encounter non-Western mission organizations at work.
Partners International (PI) is an agency working with national organizations reaching Arabs in most countries of the Middle East and North Africa; with Indian agencies serving hundreds of peoples in the Hindu heartland of North India; with Indonesian Christians working among the largest and toughest unreached groups in their country. In the places where it is very difficult for a Western missionary to go, local Christians are at work - in China, Vietnam, Laos, Sudan.
Some, like Vivekananda, are in the midst of their own people, reaching their own. From the Hindu priestly caste, he studied from his youth to follow in the footsteps of his father as a guru. He became an expert in Hinduism, transcendental meditation, palm reading, and hypnotism. But since the day when he decided to follow Christ and tore off the sacred cord that designated him as a Hindu priest, he has led hundreds to Christ through his powerful testimony and preaching. He now leads a team of church planters among his own Bengali people.
Others have gone to near-neighbor peoples with a similar language and culture. When Jacob Owusu left the comforts of Christianized-south to go the northern Ghana where the unreached are in his country, he was the only Christian in the whole region. Since then, 150 have come to Christ. This has been accomplished at great sacrifice. Jacob lives in a shed made with mud walls that measures 8 feet by 6 feet, where the ceiling is too low for him to stand upright. It has no windows, and the door is a mat hung over the opening. The water he drinks - like everyone who lives there - looks like soapy detergent. All of his possessions fit in one small box.
Still others are sending "Third World" missionaries across continents to work among completely different cultures. Rodrigo joined one of the leading agencies sending Latin Americans to the Muslim world. A trained civil engineer, he worked with local Muslim village leaders in places that had no running water. Partners International supplied funds for pumps and pipes, and the village people supplied the labor, cement and other materials. Rodrigo is the first Christian the people in these North African villages have even met. Through him, already 700 have heard about Christ for the first time and viewed the Jesus Film.
The three indigenous missionaries described above work with three of the 77 non-Western agencies with whom Partners International works. These agencies are planting a new church every 10 hours. And 80% of these churches are in the 10/40 window!
This work is possible because of partnerships with about 700 churches in the USA, and thousands of families, with Partners International serving as the bridge to help make these relationships possible. Likewise, fellow councils in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom are doing the same type of ministry with the churches in their countries.
But this movement is far beyond the scope of our organization alone. The number of agencies whose purpose is to link the Western church with non-Western mission movements has seen astonishing growth in the last few years. Today, we know of 140 such agencies. Chuck Bennett, President of Partners International, organized the first "Consultation on the Support of Indigenous Ministries" in 1996, and 52 of these agencies were represented. This has now grown into an association that this year (1999) will become a separate division under the umbrella of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (EFMA). John C. Bennett, Ph.D., President of Overseas Council, serves as the Steering Committee Chairman for the association.
Despite the growth, there is still a long way to go. Most of the 140 agencies are small. The combined giving to all of these 140 agencies represents only 5% of the total mission giving in North America.
Certainly there needs to be strong mission giving to Western missionaries, and Western-directed mission efforts, by Western churches. This is not an issue. But with 80% of the manpower in the non-Western world, and so much of the Christian wealth in the Western world, few would suggest that the present imbalance is an ideal situation. Partners International recommends that Western churches strive to achieve an 80/20 balance. That is, to use 80% of their mission dollars to send their own sons and daughters to the field. And then to use 20% to help our brothers and sisters in the non-Western world . Since non-Western workers and projects often cost less, even 20% can bring about substantial results.
Next: Beyond money - involving your church in the partnership
Cooperation: Networking | Partnerships | Church<> Planting
AGP: Introduction | Adoption | Cooperation | Individual<> Involvement | Resources