Apr 5, 2016
Don Parsons joins us to talk about how missions has shifted from 'the West to the rest' to 'from everywhere to everywhere.' He helps us understand the benefits and the challenges of globalization in missions and gives us ideas on how churches in the West can partner with churches in the Majority World to bring the Good News to every tribe, tongue and nation.
For those of you who have not met Don, he and his wife, Esther, served over a decade in Europe and Central Asia where they engaged in church planting, discipleship and the mobilization of national believers into world missions. He now serves as the Director of Globalization for SEND International. This role focuses on the expansion of SEND’s contingent of non-North America workers through education, training and strategic development.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be passionate about missions?
- My wife and I were married 25 years ago and we immediately had a passion for missions. We took a short term missions trip and five years later we found ourselves moving to Kiev, Ukraine. After language school, we were involved in church planting. We focused on seeing Ukrainians passionate about sharing Jesus with the nations. It was amazing to watch how God opened doors for Ukrainians to go as missionaries to Russia and Central Asia.
How do we define the term Globalization when we are speaking about missions?
- It was just over a century ago that 95% of the Christian world lived in the West – Europe, United States, Canada. Today, the vast majority of believers are in Africa, Korea, the Philippines, Latin America.
- The Western world is defined as Europe, North America and sometimes Australia.
- The term Majority World refers to the rest of the world – those that are not the west. Traditionally, they have received missionaries rather than sent missionaries.
Why is globalization an important factor in global missions?
- Churches have been planted and now people in these majority world countries are say, “Here I am. Send me.” The Great Commission is for everyone, not just those from the West.
- Many of these missionaries from the Majority world have an easier time entering ‘closed countries’ and many of them have an easier time relating to these cultures.
It was just over a century ago that 95% of the Christian world lived in the West – Europe, United States, Canada. Today, the vast majority of believers are in Africa, Korea, the Philippines, Latin America.
What capacity are these Majority world missionaries bringing to missions?
- They have greater access to places like the Middle East that we as westerners don’t have. For example, several Latin American countries have good relationships with countries in the Middle East that allows them to live in the Middle Easter.
- Many of these majority world missionaries bring a deep understanding of family and relationship, in ways that we as North Americans don’t understand. They share a similar worldview with people in the Middle East, both being from collectivist cultures.
- When a Filipino or Latino goes into a Muslim country, they understand their worldview much better than those of us from the West.
- It’s a Biblical principle at work – Jesus prayed for his disciples that they would be united – when they are one, when they are working together, supporting each other, then the world will know that God has sent his Son. When you have multi-cultural teams, you see this prayer being answered.
What are some of the challenges of multi-cultural teams?
- Multi-cultural teams take a lot of work and patience. We have different upbringings, different backgrounds and our understanding of team, or leader can be different, or how we make decisions can cause conflict or confusion.
- You need to define your terms at the beginning so that everyone is on the same page.
The Great Commission is for everyone, not just those from the West.
What are some of the challenges that face Majority world missionaries?
- Finances is a huge hurdle. Some of the places these missionaries are coming from are unable to fully financially support their missionaries.
- Sometimes language can be a big struggle. When no one on your team speaks your heart language, it can be very lonely.
- However, many of these majority world missionaries have a deeper understanding of what it means to be dependent on God, trusting him for all of their needs.
What are some of the things we can learn from majority world missionaries and agencies?
- They don’t have a lot of infrastructure or human resource policies – some might look at that as a negative thing, but I think it gives them a nimbleness to move forward by faith.
It’s a Biblical principle at work – Jesus prayed for his disciples that they would be united – when they are one, when they are working together, supporting each other, then the world will know that God has sent his Son.
What are some of the things that the West can offer to the majority world missionaries and agencies?
- They need us to be a ‘Barnabas.’ The Majority world wants to partner with us. The Barnabas-type personality stands to the back, ready to catch those who go out if they fall, and to encourage them as they move forward.
- The West has a lot of experience in pre-field training, and in caring for missionaries on home service. We have experience in helping churches support missionaries well. They need us to help them develop these things.
How can we partner with Majority world missionaries?
- We can pray for them.
- We need to change our mindset about the direction of missions and think outside of our boxes. We need to change our attitudes toward missionaries from the majority world.
- We can support them financially.
Many of these majority world missionaries have a deeper understanding of what it means to be dependent on God, trusting him for all of their needs.
Can you tell us about the Global Worker Initiative at SEND International?
- This initiative provides assistance in ministry expenses and travel expenses as well as expenses for conferences and member care. We expect their home churches to provide their missionaries’ salaries and the GWI helps with the extra expenses.
- It is a combined partnership.
What resources can you recommend?
- Leading Across Cultures: Effective Ministry and Mission in the Global Church – James Plueddemann
- The Culture Map: Breaking through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business – Erin Meyers
If our listeners would like to connect with you, how can they get in touch with you?