Whether we like it or not much of the mission work that took place in the world was the result of ‘colonialism’ or at least had some colonial ideas surrounding it.  Our friends in India love to tell the story of how missionaries in their yearly reports about conversions counted the upper ‘castes’ as worth more than the lower.  If they converted a “brahmin” for instance that counted as 10 conversions whereas a ‘dalit’ or lower caste was counted as one.  I think I have that right.  The number may be wrong but the concept was in play.
Mark Love in the first issue of Missio Dei wrote about the echoes of the colonialism that still can be heard in the way we dicuss mission.  It can still be seen in some of the ways we seek to ‘do’ mission.  Love wrote “Instead of asking only the question, ‘How can we get these people to belong to us?’ missional congregations learn also to ask, ‘How in the name of the Triune God do we belong to these people?’
President Baneck is heading up the “mercy experience” trip that the Mary Okeyo scholarship fund pays for.  We got to calling it a mercy experience because it was very difficult to get it into the heads of some of our travelers and many of our Pastors that on these trips we really don’t “do” anything.  You enter into the lives of our partner churches and learn about how they do what they do and the challenges that they face in doing it and then you come back and figure out ways that you can help our partners do what they do.  We are not going as construction workers to build stuff – they are capable of building their own stuff.  We are not going their to convert anyone, they are capable of their own outreach.  We will preach on Sunday morning if invited but they have Pastors that they have called to preach.  We may participate in the teaching of some of the children if invited but our travelers will learn very quickly that the Kenyans have developed ways to catechize young people that we would do well to emulate.
So we have asked the questions that are raised in the Missio Dei article…………………………
  • Money invested vs. tangible goer benefits: for example, if a church spends thousands of dollars on airfare and hotels, does the returning goers’ excitement about missions justify the expense?
  • Money invested vs. intangible goer benefits: for example, if a church spends thousands of dollars on airfare and hotels, does the returning goers’ decreased ethnocentrism and deeper understanding of God’s mission justify the expense?

We believe that the answer to both of these is yes.