“Should White People Be Missionaries Overseas?”

 

Peter Rowan has served with OMF International for over twenty-five years and is the Co-National Director of OMF (UK), a role he shares with his wife, Christine. Previously, he served on the faculty of Malaysia Bible Seminary. He is the author of Seeking Reconciliation: The Peacemaking Witness of the Church in Malaysia (Regnum, 2019).

 

“Should White People Be Missionaries Overseas?”
Absurd Question or Pathway to Reimagining Missional Faithfulness in a Postcolonial World?[1]

10 Answers for a Conversation Starter

Mission Round Table Vol. 18:1 (Jan-Jun 2023): 16-26
To download a PDF of this edition, visit this post on Mission Round Table 18:1.

Introduction

The title of this paper provokes various responses. A friend on Twitter said: “the question posed is absurd, very much ‘of this time’ in the worst way.” Others argue for its relevance for Christian witness, especially in intercultural settings where white missionaries serve as outsiders.

With the benefit of some added context, I am hoping readers will see the question as “very much ‘of this time’” in the best way. The question was asked in January 2022 by someone in a diverse, urban, evangelical church in the UK that has been examining intercultural issues within the congregation, including diversity and racism, and how these have impacted the witness of the church locally and globally. Here is the question in full:

Given the historical associations of overseas mission with colonialism and “white savior” mentality, is it appropriate for white people to be missionaries today? (Particularly in countries with a background of racial oppression.) If there is a role for white people in overseas mission, what considerations should they take to mitigate historical harm done?

Almost a year after the original series of seminars were held, a further gathering was organized to explore this question. The Revd. Dr. Israel Olofinjana and I were invited to respond in a special evening service seminar held on 15 January 2023.[2]

The broader context for this question is also important to consider.

1. The UK context. Recent years have seen events and issues arise in the UK which provide an important backdrop to understanding why this question is relevant. In the runup to the Brexit vote in 2016, there were often toxic debates around migration, in which migrants were blamed for many of the problems facing UK communities. Beginning in 2017, the Windrush scandal began to emerge when it was revealed that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens who had arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1973 from Caribbean countries had experienced detainment and deportation. Sadly, churches participated in discrimination against the Windrush generation.[3] During the COVID-19 pandemic, Black and Minority Ethnic communities suffered disproportionately, including experiencing higher death rates and incidents of racial abuse.

Windrush photograph (1962) by Howard Grey. www.howardgrey.com/windrush

2. A blind spot in evangelical churches and mission agencies. Although much has been written on colonialism and Christian mission, according to Kirsteen Kim, race and racism receive little attention in evangelical missiology. Kim cites possible reasons for this, referencing the work of Dwight Radcliff that shows the lack of African American and Black church representation in missiology as a discipline.[4] Kim also points to the problem of the historical framework that evangelicals typically work from within missiology.

The book Transforming Mission, published in 1991, is still one of the most important texts on mission theology, mission history, and mission strategy. It was written by David Bosch, who stood against racism in his home country of South Africa. But in this mission-focused book of over 500 pages, race is discussed on only two. Bosch’s book remains hugely influential, not least because of the way he frames successive chunks of church and mission history as paradigms or eras. This is helpful to a certain extent, but it also means that if white Europeans read mission history as a series of paradigm shifts, the temptation is to see the racialism of the colonial period as being part of a previous paradigm and therefore something that is now in the past.[5]

3. The death of George Floyd as a catalyst for an overdue conversation. George Floyd’s death on 25 May 2020 generated a fresh look at racism and post-colonial issues, including their impact on the witness of the church. In the UK, this was true not only at the academic level but in local churches, and among the staff and membership of mission agencies like OMF.

Christian leaders began to reflect afresh on colonialism and White supremacy and to ask, as Willie James Jennings puts it, “How might we overturn this racial architecture that is built inside Christian life and practice in the West?”[6] For instance, Patrick Mitchel makes the connections that might explain why someone would ask a question about white people engaging in overseas mission:

Over the last few weeks I’ve begun to read up on slavery and the bloody history of white colonialism in Africa (too many atrocities to name but we could start with Britain in multiple places, German genocide in Namibia and millions dying in the Congo under Belgian rule). And then there are the tens of millions more men, women and children kidnapped and transported to lives of unimaginable brutality in a global slave trade designed to prop up the developing economies of the colonial powers. And this doesn’t even include the violent suppression, and local exterminations, of indigenous populations in places like Australia and the United States. To this you can add Apartheid in South Africa and the appalling more recent history of deliberate systematised racism in America post-Lincoln … And white Christianity has been, and is, deeply implicated in this toxic history. Yes, that’s a sweeping statement but one, I think, that is impossible to deny. White supremacism isn’t a delusion of the radical left, it’s a defining assumption of modern Western history. Underneath it is an ability of those claiming the name of Christ to detach political and economic activity from what they profess to believe. In other words, to read the words of Galatians 3:28 but leave their radical implications conveniently behind in favour of power and money.[7]

The sense that this is all part of an unfinished and overdue conversation is hard to escape in the UK, especially if one spends any time in diverse church and mission settings where participants are present from majority world contexts.

4. Reimagining missional faithfulness in a postcolonial world. Through initiatives such as the series of seminars held at the church in Manchester where the original question was asked, a greater diversity of voices is now heard and safe spaces created for difficult conversations to take place. Greater diversity in UK evangelical churches and mission agencies will facilitate better engagement with this topic, leading (hopefully) to a transformation in practice.

Paul Mathole, Peter Rowan, and Israel Olofinjana. Holy Trinity Platt Church, January 2023

It is often the case that evangelical congregations in urban settings demonstrate diversity in their pews, but less so in their leadership, which is usually white and male. It is also generally the case that the kind of global mission engagement that has characterized UK evangelical churches and models of sending missionaries overseas—usually in partnership with mission agencies—is a predominantly white space. The gatherings of mission agency leaders under Global Connections illustrates this very clearly. Greater diversity is essential if blind spots are to be identified and if UK churches and mission agency communities, in Harvey Kwiyani’s words, are to be able to “reimagine missional faithfulness in a postcolonial world.”[8]

5. The pervasive theme of race. Racial issues lie at the heart of the original seminar question, and race pervades the ten answers below. Before we look at those answers, let me make two brief points.

Firstly, as this paper was first read at a consultation held in Singapore attended by participants from various parts of the world and is now published in an international journal, I want to stress that the racial landscape of Britain is different from that of other places, for example the USA. Each context must be examined in order to understand the historical, social, and religious landscape that has shaped issues surrounding race.

Secondly, Britain has had a significant role in shaping ideas about racism. In an important contribution to the debate about how the church should respond to the issues of race and class that continue to divide British society, Jason Roach and Jessamin Birdsall note the past role of British Christians and missionaries:

[W]e should not underestimate the role that Britain has played in developing the ideas that allowed racism to become entrenched all around the world. During the colonial era, Britain, along with other European powers, developed and spread the idea that Black people were inferior to white people. They used this idea to justify colonial exploitation and slavery. The profits from the transatlantic slave trade contributed substantially to Britain’s economy.

Unfortunately, some Christian missionaries provided theological backing for these ideas about “racial hierarchy”. They argued that white Europeans were God’s chosen ambassadors to bring civilization to primitive, dark-skinned people. They claimed that Black people were inferior culturally and intellectually to white people, and that they therefore should be under white rule. Colonial powers, supported by bogus scientific and theological ideas, constructed a “hierarchy of races” with white people at the top and Black people at the bottom. In colonies like Trinidad and Fiji, where the British brought indentured labourers from India to work alongside enslaved Africans or dark-skinned indigenous people, Indians were placed in a middle position in the racial hierarchy. Centuries later the legacy of those practices, and the ideas that made them possible, live on.[9]

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

I will answer this question with ten yes/no answers. Although the focus of the question is very much on “white people”, it will become clear that the issues being highlighted can apply to anyone, of any color and context, who engages in intercultural witness—particularly if coming from a place of power and privilege. However, the context of the original questioner must not be forgotten—that white Christians in particular have been involved in shaping certain attitudes and actions that have had long-lasting effects in how the gospel and “mission” is perceived in cross-cultural settings.

Before laying out the ten yes/no answers, I will begin with one broad YES answer and one specific NO answer to the question: “Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

–Yes, because white followers of Jesus have been embraced into his multicultural, global community and, as part of that diverse new humanity, are called to participate with others in a faithful witness to that radical, transformative, life-giving kingdom.

–No, when the presence of white (obviously outsider) Christians in a particular context would clearly draw unhelpful attention and potentially jeopardize the work and witness of the local Christian community.

The following responses will focus on ten specific topics. The choice of topics is based on themes that have been prominent in the literature on race, colonialism, and mission, as well as in seminars and conversations that I have been part of in recent years.[10]

1. Agency

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

No, if we think white people have been, or still are, the key agents in mission.

Yes, if we recognize that any transformation is about what God is doing by his Spirit, and that local people are the key agents in the emergence of Christlike communities and long-term kingdom witness. Western missionaries have been catalysts in planting the seed of the gospel among peoples globally. However, local, indigenous Christians have been the most successful evangelists and crucial for the continuation of gospel work and the development of the theology, discipleship, worship, and mission appropriate for that local context. As the historian David Killingray has observed:

The spread of the Christian Gospel and the growth of the church across the world over two thousand years have largely been due to the work of countless unnamed Christians who gossiped the good news in their own language and among peoples of their own culture. They are in the records of God, rarely noted in the register of man.[11]

“We each have a role to play in this broken world, but when God calls us to serve, God isn’t asking us to become outsider heroes in the middle of an insider’s story. God is already the hero, and God is inviting us to walk alongside local insiders as sidekicks rather than superheroes. Our role is to amplify the voices of local leaders, to strengthen their hands, and to place them at the front and center.”[12]

CRAIG GREENFIELD

2. Reciprocity

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

Noif we think mission is a one-directional task in which our capacity, our resources, and our culture is being brought to help transform the “other”.

Yesif there is an openness to receiving from those among whom we live and serve, and an understanding that in any authentic intercultural encounters, no one is left unchanged. For the Apostle Paul, ministry was a two-way street. He writes to the Romans in 1:11–12: “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Christian service for Paul was marked by reciprocity and mutual transformation.

As Willie James Jennings points out, “Christianity is a teaching faith. It carries in its heart the making of disciples through teaching”[13] (Matthew 28:19). But that call to teach has often become distorted by what Jennings describes as “our pedagogical imperialism.” He describes “European settlers in the new worlds”:

European Christians saw themselves as the bearers of the true faith and therefore as destined by God to be the teachers of the world. Teaching is important for the Christian faith, but it is not the first thing. The first thing is being a learner. We must remember this truth from Scripture: We joined the story of another people, of Israel, and in this way learned of our God.[14]

Being a learner applies to organizations as well as to individuals. If mission organizations are to adapt to a changing landscape in what is now increasingly understood as an era of World Christianity, and if OMF is to respond as fully as we should to the issues raised in this research consultation, then it is critical that we become learning organizations.

We often think faithfulness to the gospel means living in historic structures, time-honored systems, and fixed (usually hierarchical) relationships. A learning organization is one that will question these notions of fidelity and foster a culture in which questioning, listening, adapting, and testing are encouraged and rewarded. This kind of learning culture produces an agility that allows the organization to experiment, sets people free to fail, and addresses real needs.

“Properly understood, the history of missions is not only the history of expansion of Christianity but also the history of its own many conversions—of what the church has learned and discovered as its faith becomes incarnate in various times, places and cultures.”[15]

CARLOS F. CORDOZA-ORLANDI and JUSTO GONZALEZ

3. Power

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

Noif we think we are in charge, or demonstrate an attitude that we are in control.

Yes, if we are ready to be guests in the presence of the “other” and are prepared to acknowledge and are sensitive to the dynamics of power that are at work in mission contexts.

“The gospel calls us and sends us out… The colonial enterprise put us in charge of God’s sending rather than allowing us to be carried by the sending God. The latter involves our really attending to the voice of the ‘other’… allowing ourselves as people of mission to be invited into the space of the ‘other’.”[16]

AMOS YONG

Andrew Draper, one of the contributors to Can “White” People be Saved?, “explores the vulnerability necessary for the White body to be joined with others” and recommends “five spiritual disciplines that Whites may use in building an antiracist identity,” one of which is to “choose to locate their lives in places and structures in which they are necessarily guests.[17]

As Michael A. Rynkiewich says, “we must always ask questions about power.”[18] The Edinburgh 2010 Common Call did just that:

Disturbed by the asymmetries and imbalances of power that divide and trouble us in church and world, we are called to repentance, to critical reflection on systems of power, and to accountable use of power structures. We are called to find practical ways to live as members of One Body in full awareness that God resists the proud, Christ welcomes and empowers the poor and afflicted, and the power of the Holy Spirit is manifested in our vulnerability.[19]

In the Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series, volume 33 looks at Mission and Power: History, Relevance and Perils. This is an outstanding piece of work (as is the whole multi-volume project), but as a student at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies recently pointed out:

of the 20 essays, the focus of 13 could be described as touching on aspects of the exercise of power in a positive sense (‘power to’). Many of the remaining 7 essayists, even when touching on power in missions as ‘power over’, do not directly implicate Christian mission in their discussions of power as domination.[20]

This perhaps indicates a reticence to ask the deeper questions about power.

The notion of “using power in the service of others” sounds innocuous until we think a little deeper about power and privilege from the perspective of the New Testament.[21]

Jesus did not use his power at the cross. It is precisely in Christ’s refusal to use his privilege to overcome the Jews or Romans (Matt 26:53) that God defeated death by raising Jesus from the dead. Likewise, Paul speaks of God’s power in human weakness. A word study on “power” and “authority” in the Greek shows that the vast majority of the usages of those words in the New Testament are references to God’s power and authority, not the power and authority of the disciples or Jesus-followers.

Christians should not be afraid of losing power. Indeed, it is in our refusal to use power (e.g., when we are in positions of social or economic power) that we bear witness to God who has triumphed over sin and death. The language of “empowering” others, although commonly used in Christian mission circles, is problematic. The problem is this: only those with power can empower others—and if I can empower, I can also take power away.[22]

“Intentional powerlessness is in fact a radical criticism of the world’s power. It expresses God’s true nature, our dependence on God and the lifestyle of the kingdom.”[23]

JAYAKUMAR CHRISTIAN

4. Indigeneity

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

No, if we think mission is about taking our theological categories and church structures and transplanting them somewhere else—with the underlying notion that our theology and church structures are “normative” and we therefore need to teach new Christians how to adopt them.

Yesif we understand the contextual nature of theological reflection and that understanding the gospel, expressions of faith, and the emergence of Christlike communities will take a different shape in different parts of the world. And that by reading the Bible with the other, we will ourselves be transformed.[24]

Given the importance of the Bible in evangelical missions, spending a little more time on the questions of context is crucial.

It is not uncommon to encounter UK Christians who believe that how they read and interpret the Bible is the way anyone else in any other part of the world should read and interpret it. There are biblical theologians who may say that biblical theology is normative and the contextual factor only comes into play when the message of the Bible is worked out in the world through systematic, practical, pastoral, and other forms of theology. The realities are surely more complex, and the social locatedness of the Bible reader comes into play more than is often acknowledged.

For instance, to assist students in understanding how our social location influences what we see as important in the biblical text, I often use the IVP New Bible Dictionary as an illustration, asking them to look up the entry for “Poverty”. There they find approximately one-and-a-half columns of text, with one bibliographical entry. I then direct them to the entry for “Pottery”, where in sharp contrast they find about three columns of text, plus a two-page chart showing the development of pottery from the Archaeological Period through to the Roman Period, along with five bibliographical entries. For Majority World Christian readers, what will have the higher importance for their research? What the Bible says about pottery or poverty? The priority given to “pottery” reflects the social location of the editors.

In his book Reading While Black, Esau McCaulley discusses Black biblical interpretation, illustrating the differences between the enslaved person’s biblical reading and that of the slave owner’s. In what is an extremely important book, McCaulley not only unpacks Black biblical interpretation, he also opens the Scriptures from that perspective for the benefit of all readers, especially on topics often overlooked by white interpreters. McCaulley notes: yes, “everybody has been reading the Bible from their locations.” But he is also clear that although we must all engage in a dialogue with the text, “ultimately the Word of God speaks the final word.”[25] What McCaulley lays out in terms of a broad framework for biblical interpretation, can be applied to all other local, indigenous, specific communities and groups. As he says:

My claim then is that Black biblical interpretation has been and can be

  • unapologetically canonical and theological.
  • socially located, in that it clearly arises out of the particular context of Black Americans.
  • willing to listen to the ways in which the Scriptures themselves respond to and redirect Black issues and concerns.
  • willing to exercise patience with the text trusting that a careful and sympathetic reading of the text brings a blessing.
  • willing to listen to and enter dialogue with Black and white critiques of the Bible in the hopes of achieving a better reading of the text.[26]

Mindful of those who come with “questions of theological orthodoxy and syncretism,” Jay Matenga has joined his voice to many Majority World theologians in calling for a centering of the local, so that local believers have the space to read Scripture in ways that allow the emergence of a localized faith that connects with the lived reality of daily experience. Local churches have the freedom to theologize and express their experience of God in ways that may not look orthodox to outsiders. Yet, at the same time, a local church will seek to handle Scripture correctly and in conversation with the global church.[27] This applies just as much to the UK as it does to any Majority World church context—it is important that local churches and Bible colleges in the UK recognize the value of being in conversation with the global church.[28]

5. Friendship

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

No, if we haven’t been invited or haven’t consulted local Christians. This results in a form of doing mission to and for, but not with, which can be detrimental to the long-term health of the church and its sense of ownership of missional initiatives.

Yes, if we have taken the time to develop relationships and have listened to local Christians in order to discern if it is appropriate for foreign Christians to come alongside, and in what capacity we should serve together with local believers.

Rather than proposing an already constructed agenda, outsiders must be willing to wait for the invitation to co-create missional initiatives. Collaboration is essential and it must begin with friendship.

Of the 1,215 delegates that attended The World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh in 1910, only nineteen were from the majority world. One of those non-Western delegates gave two speeches—one, largely forgotten, the other, the most quoted and studied speech of the entire event. Few reading this paper will be unfamiliar with this voice from the past.

V. S. Azariah was an Anglican clergyman from south India, and like many who followed Christ in that part of the world, Azariah was from one of the lower groups in India’s caste hierarchy. He had been a very effective evangelist and was instrumental in setting up the first two indigenous missionary societies run solely by Indians. So Azariah, according to historian Brian Stanley, was “the pioneer of a trend—the growth of mission from non-western countries.” This is significant, given the prevailing attitude that believed “native Christian workers” to be incapable of working independently of European supervision. Such workers were “regarded as mere machines in the employment of European missionary agencies in which they had no voice.”[29]

In his second and most famous speech, Azariah began with an opening line as explosive in 2023 as it was in 1910: “The problem of race relationships is one of the most serious problems confronting the Church today.[30] The speech reached a climax with this now famous plea:

We ought to be willing to learn from one another and to help one another. Through all the ages to come the Indian Church will rise up in gratitude to attest the heroism and self-denying labours of the missionary body. You have given your goods to feed the poor. You have given your bodies to be burned. We also ask for love. Give us FRIENDS.[31]

Companionship, collaboration, and co-creation of missional initiatives—these must be the hallmarks of mission in a global church paradigm.

“Friendship is intimate and ordinary. It can also be revolutionary: it points to God’s kingdom.”[32]

DANA ROBERT

6. History

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

Noif we haven’t reckoned with the history of colonialism and/or demonstrated a sensitivity to the lasting effects of it in many contexts, including in the West, for example among First Nations peoples or in relation to slavery and racism.

Yesif we have an awareness of the issues that surround colonialism, the complexities of the relationship between colonialism and mission, and are seeking to better understand what it means to engage in mission in a postcolonial world with humility and in solidarity with Majority World churches—many of which are found in post-colonial contexts of inequality and powerlessness.[33]

“…we Western Christians are complicit—not all of us, of course, and not everywhere, but the majority. Going back perhaps as far as Constantine and the Christendom project, most of us have sided with power and the political establishment. A little Christian post-colonialism is called for.”[34]

JONATHAN INGELBY

In addition to being aware of the history surrounding colonialism and mission, consideration must also be given to how mission agencies record their histories and tell their stories. Agencies have typically written mission history from the perspective of the missionary, giving priority to “missionary transmission and direction” rather than to “indigenous response and appropriation.”[35]

According to Andrew Atherstone and David Ceri Jones, there has been “a radical transformation since the 1960s” in the way historians have written about evangelicalism:

Previously dominated by what David Bebbington calls “denominational apologias, edifying biographies and missionary hagiographies,” evangelicalism has more recently begun to figure in mainstream historical literature and academic research. Nonetheless the older forms still endure, as ministers, clergy and missionaries narrate evangelical history for a popular audience, to teach and encourage the contemporary church.[36]

CIM Headquarters, Shanghai, China, 1905, Gelatin silver print, Dr. W. T. Clark Collection; gift of Patricia Kennedy. Courtesy of ROM (Royal Ontario Museum), Toronto, Canada. ©ROM

With the emergence of the discipline described as the “history of histories”—in which “proponents pay closer attention not only to the content of historical writing but also the philosophical ideals and worldviews which have shaped such literature”[37]—and the impact of the discipline of World Christianity, there is a growing emphasis on the need to amplify local voices and those from the margins in order to tell the stories of how Christianity was received and transmitted in a given context. It is imperative, therefore, that we pay attention to the silences in our archives and, in our popular literature, de-center the role and voice of the missionary to allow a fuller picture to emerge.[38]

7. Solidarity

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

Noif we think Christianity is a Western religion and fail to realize that World Christianity is normative and that we have much to learn and receive from the global church.

Yes, if there is an understanding that “Christianity is and always has been a global religion” (Gen 12:3; Matt 1:2–16; Acts 13:1; Rom 16:1–16; Eph 2:14–18; 3:2–6; Rev 7:9–10). “For this reason, it is important never to think of Christianity as becoming global.”[39] Any follower of Christ involved in bringing the gospel to the nations does so as part of the diverse global body of Christ.

While it is true that Christianity has always been a global religion, we are now living in an era of World Christianity in which the global expression of the faith, in its rich diversity, is now more accessible and closer to hand than ever before. What this means for theological reflection and relationships across the wider Body of Christ is described well by T. D. Gener and L. Bautista:

Times have changed. With the collapse of Euro-American (Western) dominance in Christian theology there is an increased recognition of a polycentric world and a polycentric world Christianity, with emphasis on many theological centres… The future beckons for truly catholic Christianity that honours unity-in-diversity in both church and theology.[40]

“Christianity is a multicoloured fabric where each new thread, chosen and refined at the Designer’s hand, adds lustre and strength to the whole.

… we should stress the importance of interwoven solidarity with fellow believers, past, present and future.”[41]

LAMIN SANNEH

That “inter-woven solidarity” means UK Christians looking carefully at how local actions can have global impact, for instance, being willing to advocate for Christians in Asia where, as Gina Zurlo observes, they “suffer from a lack of political recognition, social inequality, and faith-based persecution.”[42]

8. Training

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

Noif we are unaware of the extent to which racism impacts people’s lives and how much of a blind spot racism is for many churches and mission agencies.

Yes, if racism awareness is being built into our preparations and orientation for Christian service in intercultural contexts both local and global, and if we have demonstrated a willingness to listen to the experiences of those who have encountered racism, and are humble enough to do the work of learning, unlearning, and relearning that will equip us for serving in mission.

Kirsteen Kim concludes her article “Racism Awareness in Mission” with several recommendations related to training and education:

  • racism awareness should be integral to mission education and even a touchstone for authentic missiology.
  • examine the use of “culture” in missiology.[43]
  • the link between colonialism and contemporary racism needs to be made explicit in missiology.
  • mission theology should be interrogated for White supremacist thinking.
  • read the scholarship of people of color.
  • Individuals and communities who have received mission claim space in missiology to speak for themselves and to speak back to those who preached to them.
  • White missiologists should not generalize about Christians of other regions and communities but hear and promote their views.
  • not to actively work against racism is to let it go unchecked.[44]

More broadly (or perhaps at a deeper level), barriers exist to tackling the above points in relation to race and to other areas covered in this paper because of the gap that exists between theology and missiology. For Willie James Jennings, this gap has meant that the “colonial wound … remains untheorized within Western Christian theology.” He urges theologians to “reject the current pedagogical schemas that separate missionary texts from theological texts, missiology from theology, both historical, and systematic.”[45] Theology and missiology must be brought together to ensure a properly comprehensive theoretical framework is in place that can facilitate robust theological reflection on the “colonial wound”.

9. Reconciliation

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

No, if our understanding of the gospel is individualistic and we lack a robust theology of reconciliation.

Yes, if we understand the social dimensions of the gospel. As individual followers of Jesus, we are called to work out the gospel so that, as part of the new society the gospel creates, we are breaking down the barriers that divide and building visible unity that demonstrates that the gospel reconciles people with God and with one another. This requires proclaiming and embodying the gospel of peace—the wholistic gift of shalom that applies to all dimensions of life—political, economic, social, and spiritual.[46]

Reconciliation and peacemaking are neglected aspects of mission for many evangelical churches and missionaries. Yet, it is impossible to miss the biblical emphasis on how the people of God are called to be peacemakers and how the gospel of reconciliation is at the heart of Paul’s theology of mission. Working out a commitment to peacebuilding and reconciliation cannot be done without attending to questions of justice and forgiveness. The Cape Town Commitment expresses this well:

True and lasting reconciliation requires acknowledgement of past and present sin, repentance before God, confession to the injured one, and the seeking and receiving of forgiveness. It also includes commitment by the Church to seeking justice or reparation, where appropriate, for those who have been harmed by violence and oppression.[47]

There is such a thing as “cheap reconciliation”. Summarizing the contributions of Desmond Tutu and David Bosch at the National Initiative for Reconciliation that took place in South Africa before the dismantling of apartheid, Michael Cassidy described how “Cheap reconciliation … means tearing faith and justice asunder, driving a wedge between the vertical and the horizontal dimensions: it suggests that we can have peace with God without having justice in our mutual relationships.”[48] Actions aimed at achieving racial reconciliation must include actions that seek justice (Micah 6:8). Peacemakers will seek to address the socio-political and structural dynamics that hinder reconciliation because if the structural issues that have caused division and tension are not addressed, we are left with a superficial peace.

“At the heart of Jesus’ teaching is a message of equality and reconciliation. Though there have been moments when the Church has been at the forefront of social progress (the role of Christians in the abolition movement, for example), the Church must also confront its own complicity in the building of racial structures that still exist today.”[49]

BEN LINDSAY

10. Motivation

“Should white people be missionaries overseas?”

No, if going on missions is motivated by a form of “White Savior complex”—trying to fix someone else’s situation so that we can “make a difference”.

Yes, if we have reflected on our motivations “to go on missions” and have sought the input and wisdom of others to humbly discern our place in participating in the mission of God. This will involve recognizing that those we go to serve among are not simply objects of mission or recipients of charity, but women and men created in God’s image, in whom we encounter Christ. Our role is to walk alongside, share our resources with them, and proclaim the good news of Jesus along the way.

“If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.”[50]

TEJU COLE

In an extract from her book, The Good Ally: A Guided Anti-Racism Journey from Bystander to Changemaker, author Nova Reid writes in The Observer about the “white savior complex”:

There’s an impulsive desire to fix, to be the hero of the story, to swoop in and rescue and, for some, it also comes from a place of superiority and/or a desire to be forgiven. It feeds into something called the “White Savior Industrial Complex”—a term first coined by Harvard professor and novelist Teju Cole in 2012. “White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice, it’s about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege… There is much more to doing good work than “making a difference”. There is the principle of first do no harm. There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them,” explains Cole.[51]

This can be difficult to understand, and to get right. People really do think they are doing the right thing, but without understanding the consequences.

Of course, charities and aid organizations are important, but how aid is presented is key. Any charity that does not have a core mission to empower the communities they are serving is problematic. Instead of showcasing “poverty and trauma porn”, charities could intentionally choose to centre Black voices and share news about the inspiring work being done by people in the community.

Don’t underestimate the power of one-dimensional storytelling and representation and how it can inform your worldview. I still recall noticing, as a seven-year-old, that the only people who looked like me on television were in charity idents, with flies buzzing round their faces, with the white English man with the sombre sad voice as a backdrop. That’s improved, but there’s still a long way to go. There is a fine line between helping and being performative, but nevertheless there is a line.

To go back to Teju Cole: “first do no harm”. That means acknowledging and getting curious about where this innate desire to rescue Black people and be one of the “good white people” is coming from. That means being conscious of your motivations to help—it means being honest.[52]

It is at this point that we need to state what has by now become obvious—namely, that although the issues highlighted in the ten responses speak to those of us who are white and share in that stream of Christian mission that coincided with, and was often facilitated by, the colonial expansion of European powers, the same issues highlighted above are applicable to Christians from across the global church who attempt to engage in Christian mission from a position of power and privilege.[53]

We must therefore be aware of how “whiteness” operates as a concept beyond the color of white skin and the geography of the West. This way of understanding the world, oneself, what is required, and how it can be achieved, is just as prevalent in East Asian societies, including church communities among those colloquially known as “fancy Asians”. Willie James Jennings describes “whiteness” in this way:

Whiteness was and is a way of being in the world and a way of seeing the world at the same time. Whiteness is determined by the aspiration to and acceptance of this way of being and seeing in the world. Whiteness is not the equal and opposite of blackness… Whiteness is a way of imaging oneself as part of the central facilitating reality, the reality that makes sense of, interprets, organizes, and narrates the world.[54]

Meanwhile, Martin Munyao further describes how “whiteness” obscures the richness of specific theologies:

Whiteness makes universal claims of what is needed. It claims a universal understanding of what is needed, what is beautiful, what is normal, and what is acceptable. This means that there are theologies or a theology that is acceptable, that is normal, that is universal in standard. Whiteness puts a face of neutrality that obscures the specific theologies of other people.[55]

Some may argue that those serving in a mission organization and familiar with living in cross-cultural situations would be sensitive to the “whiteness” factors being described by these theologians. One would hope that this would be the case but there is no guarantee, and there are plenty of examples to the contrary.

Conclusion

In his 1968 book, Christianity in World Perspective, Kenneth Cragg discusses three significant consequences of the European and Christendom origins of the missionary movement. The three are “the fact of empire”, “the white factor”, and the “managerial”. On the second of these, Cragg writes:

It is, in perspective, one of the sorest liabilities of modern Christian mission that it has been so exclusively pursued by white humanity and served by white initiatives.[56]

That was in 1968, and Cragg is commenting on “modern Christian mission”—that movement or movements that emerged especially in the nineteenth century and which, after the Second World War, developed into a way of engaging in global mission that has been described as the “Christian-industrial complex.”[57] Cragg’s analysis powerfully captures the way the three factors combine and shape Christian witness:

These considerations of “imperial” circumstance and “white” aegis were reinforced by a third general factor implicit in the very nature of mission, for which one might well borrow the term “managerial”. It was not only that sanctions of power, welcome or unwelcome, lay behind the Christian presence and that there were painful and inexorable antitheses of racial origin: it was, further, that western Christianity found itself for ever “organizing” and “officiating” in every context of its coming … It was all too easy for the Christian faith, like busy Martha in an uncaring world, to give its very seriousness and sacrifice a compromising tone of condescension.[58]

How these three factors have intersected over the decades has led to calls for the decolonizing of theology and mission.[59] Yes, the world has changed since 1968, but in the era of World Christianity that we are now living in, it still needs to be said that any pursuit of Christian mission that retains the residue of empire, “whiteness,” and managerial missiology, is to be rejected because it runs counter to the kingdom witness the church is called to embody and proclaim.

This brings us back to the topic of power as perhaps the most urgent issue for mission agencies and missionaries to consider because it lies at the heart of so many of the issues we now find ourselves wrestling with:

  • money and resources—where does the money come from and who gets to spend it?;
  • strategy and ministry—who calls the shots on strategy?;
  • leadership—what does it mean to lead from a place of vulnerability and weakness, who should be doing the leading, and are we prepared not to lead?; a Christlikeness is required, and this takes us back to Azariah and his call for Friends.

There is still much work to be done among churches and mission organizations in the global North if, in Harvey Kwiyani’s words, we are to “reimagine faithful witness in a postcolonial world.”[60] But I am hopeful, not least because of the context that gave birth to the “absurd question” in the title of this paper: an authentic dialogue in a diverse church congregation where leaders are prepared to create safe spaces for people to engage with honesty and vulnerability; to ask the hard questions and together seek discernment for their ongoing witness to the nations—within the church, down the street, and across the world. If we can replicate this in our churches and agencies, then there is hope for reimagining faithful witness.

 

Questions for reflection

1. In the light of your personal experience and the points raised in this paper, how would you respond to someone who asks whether it is appropriate for white people to serve as missionaries today? What are the main socio-political and theological supports for your position?

2. The paper lists a number of reasons why this issue needs to be addressed in the present moment of history. Just how valid do you feel they are? Are there any other reasons that you would like to add to these?

3. Yes/no answers are given to ten different topics regarding whether white people should serve as missionaries or not. What did you find helpful in the manner this question was approached? What in the answers did you find helpful and why? What did you disagree with and why? What other perspectives do you think should influence our understanding of the issues involved?

4. Toward the end of the paper, we read that “We must … be aware of how ‘whiteness’ operates as a concept beyond the color of white skin and the geography of the West.” How do you respond to this idea? How do the issues raised in this paper apply to people who are not from the West or have white skin? How should this impact the way you and your coworkers do mission?

 

[1] The author of this paper is a white, male, Northern Irish Christian in his mid-fifties who has served as a missionary in various overseas contexts, including ten years in Malaysia with OMF International.

[2] Israel Olofinjana is the Director of the One People Commission at the Evangelical Alliance, UK, https://www.eauk.org/what-we-do/networks/one-people-commission. Details of his work and publications can be found at https://israelolofinjana.wordpress.com. The event was held at Holy Trinity Platt Church, Manchester, and was facilitated by Grace Robinson (Intercultural Worker) and Rev. Dr. Paul Mathole (Rector).

[3] The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, “Windrush Scandal Explained,” https://www.jcwi.org.uk/windrush-scandal-explained (accessed 20 January 2023). 22 June 2023 marked 75 years since the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush at London’s Tilbury Docks. For a series of articles that celebrate the “Windrush generation” and that look at the injustices still being faced by these people and their descendants, see https://theconversation.com/topics/windrush-75-139220 (accessed 6 June 2023).

[4] Kirsteen Kim, “Racism Awareness in Mission: Touchstone or Cultural Blind Spot?,” International Bulletin of Mission Research 45, no. 4 (2021): 383. Kim notes the two reasons Dwight Radcliffe gives for why African American and Black church perspectives are largely absent from missiology: “(1) the structure and epistemology of missiology as a discipline, which does not connect with Black thought, and (2) the related failure to acknowledge existing African American scholarship in the field.” See Dwight A. Radcliff Jr., “Black-ish Missiology: A Critique of Mission Studies and Appeal for Inclusion in the United States Context,” Mission Studies 37, no. 2 (2020): 169–92.

[5] See Kim, “Racism Awareness in Mission, 376–86.

[6] Willie James Jennings, “Overcoming Racial Faith: How Christianity Became Entangled with Racism,” Divinity 14, no. 2 (Spring 2015): 5, https://divinity.duke.edu/sites/divinity.duke.edu/files/divinity-magazine/DukeDivinityMag_Spring15.WEB_.compressed.pdf (accessed 13 June 2023).

[7] Patrick Mitchel, “Thinking about the Colour of My Skin,” Faith in Ireland (blog), 29 August 2020, https://faithinireland.wordpress.com/2020/08/29/thinking-about-the-colour-of-my-skin/ (accessed 24 May 2023). Italics mine.

[8] Harvey Kwiyani, Global Connections Network News January 2023, “Mission in the Age of Modern Christianity.” See also Harvey Kwiyani’s weekly newsletter: Global Witness, Globally Reimagined, https://harveykwiyani.substack.com.

[9] Jason Roach and Jessamin Birdsall, Healing the Divides: How Every Christian Can Advance God’s Vision for Racial Unity and Justice (London: The Good Book Company, 2022), 24–25. In a chapter on nineteenth-century missions, Charles Taber offers this assessment: “The love of Christ, which undeniably motivated the missionaries powerfully, did much to mitigate racism, but it never really eliminated it. Missionaries often protested the worst effects of racism when translated into colonial policies but few indeed were themselves free from the taint of racist attitudes.” Charles R. Taber, The World is Too Much With Us: “Culture” in Modern Protestant Missions (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1991), 62.

[10] A list must stop somewhere but among possible contenders for an additional slot is the topic of Sin, particularly our understanding of its individual and structural dimensions. For an accessible treatment of this, see Roach and Birdsall, Healing the Divides, chapter 5, “Barriers Within the Church,” 97–115. Also helpful is Michael Gorman, Romans: A Theological and Pastoral Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2022). See his treatment of how Paul “characterises the human condition as one marked by both sins (or transgressions) and Sin, a cosmic power that holds humanity captive” (11). And see the excellent little book by Richard J. Mouw, When the Kings Come Marching in: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002): “Sin may have originated in the rebellious designs of individual wills, but human rebellion has institutionalised sin… ‘Changed hearts’ will not ‘change society’ if the efforts at change are not also directed toward the structures and patterns of human interaction” (110).

[11] David Killingray, “The Role of Indigenous Christians in the Global Church,” in Shaping Christianity in Greater China: Indigenous Christians in Focus, ed. Paul Woods (Oxford: Regnum, 2017), 9.

[12] Craig Greenfield, Subversive Mission: Serving as Outsiders in a World of Need (Downers Grove: IVP, 2022), 45.

[13] Willie James Jennings, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010), 106. Jennings goes on to say that “its pedagogical vision is inside its Christological horizon and embodiment, inside its participatio Christi and its imitatio Christi. The colonialist moment indicates the loss of that horizon and embodiment through its enclosure in exaggerated judgment, hyperevaluation tied to a racial optic. Pedagogical evaluation in the New World set the context within which the theological imagination functioned. Theology was inverted with pedagogy. Teaching was not envisioned inside discipleship, but discipleship was envisioned inside teaching.”

[14] Jennings, “Overcoming Racial Faith,” 8.  

[15] Carlos F. Cardoza-Orlandi and Justo L. Gonzalez, To All Nations from All Nations: A History of the Christian Missionary Movement (Nashville: Abingdon, 2013), 3.

[16] “An Interview with Amos Yong,” YouTube video, 18:33, posted by Wipf & Stock, 21 January 2017, https://youtu.be/T6gnlwVUPeo (accessed 19 May 2023).

[17] Andrew Draper, “The End of ‘Mission’: Christian Witness and the Decentering of White Identity,” in Can White People Be Saved?: Triangulating Race, Theology, and Mission, ed. Love L. Sechrest, Johnny Ramírez-Johnson, and Amos Yong (Downers Grove: IVP, 2018), Kindle Location 469.

[18] Michael A. Rynkiewich, “Do Not Remember the Former Things,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 40, no. 4 (2016): 311.

[19] “Edinburgh 2010: Common Call,” International Bulletin of Mission Research 35, no. 1 (January 2011): 3. “The Edinburgh 2010 Common Call emerged from the Edinburgh 2010 study process and conference to mark the centenary of the World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910. The Common Call was affirmed in the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall in Edinburgh on 5 June 2010, by representatives of world Christianity, including Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and Protestant churches.”

[20] Comments made by Yvette Koh, PhD candidate with the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. The author is one of Yvette’s supervisors.

[21] I am indebted to Dr. Siu Fung Wu for perspectives shared in personal correspondence on the topic of power in the New Testament.

[22] I am grateful to Walter McConnell for sharing insights gained in conversations at the WEA Missions Global Consultation, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 30 January–3 February 2023.

[23] Jayakumar Christian, God of the Empty Handed: Poverty, Power and the Kingdom of God (n.p.: World Vision: 1999), 210.

[24] See, for instance, Jangkholam Haokip and David W. Smith, Voices from the Margins: Wisdom of Primal Peoples in the Era of World Christianity (Carlisle: Langham Global Library, 2022) and Peter Rowan, “Trusting Local Agency: Discerning our Future in Mission,” Billions (May-August 2023): 24–25.

[25] Esau McCaulley, Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope (Downers Grove: IVP, 2020), 20.

[26] McCaulley, Reading While Black, 21, italics original.

[27] Jay Matenga, “Centring the Local: The Indigenous Future of Missions,” a seminar originally presented at the Wycliffe Global Alliance/SIL “Together in Christ 2021” conference, https://jaymatenga.com/pdfs/MatengaJ_CentringLocal.pdf (accessed 12 June 2023).

[28] It is particularly urgent that global North churches and mission agencies look for opportunities to read the Bible with the poor and those on the margins, for it is in such communities that Christianity is growing. Harvey Conn called for this in his 1984 work Eternal Word and Changing Worlds. “Where shall we begin this identification? By sitting where the poor and disenfranchised sit, in the ghettos of our cities, in the waiting rooms of public health clinics, in the unemployment lines and welfare offices. By bringing to life in our inner cities those features of the Base Ecclesial Communities that have been an important part of the Roman Catholic renewal movement in Latin America—Bible Study with the poor and not simply for the poor. Bible study in communities seeking to understand the injustice and racial animosity that has desacralized their lives, and commitment to hope together.” Harvey Conn, Eternal Word and Changing Worlds: Theology, Anthropology, and Mission in Trialogue (Grand Rapids: Academie, 1984), 255–56.

[29] Brian Stanley, The World Missionary Conference: Edinburgh 1910 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), Kindle Location 1562.

[30] Stanley, The World Missionary Conference, Kindle Location 1583.

[31] Stanley, The World Missionary Conference, Kindle Location 1602.

[32] Dana L. Robert, Faithful Friendships: Embracing Diversity in Christian Community (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2019), Kindle Location 163.

[33] As Kim points out: “In the main, the communities and nations who were ranked lowest by the colonists still suffer the greatest oppression. Colonialism itself also continues in the form of neocolonialism, which is better known as economic globalization.” Kim, “Racism Awareness in Mission,” 383. An important aspect of the history of colonialism is understanding the development of the concept of culture and how it has influenced missions. See Taber, The World is Too Much with Us.

[34] Jonathan Ingelby, Beyond Empire: Postcolonialism and Mission in a Global Context (Milton Keynes: Authorhouse, 2010), xix. See also Nigel Bigger, Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning (London: William Collins, 2023). In the opinion of one reviewer of Biggar’s work: “In his ‘moral reckoning’ on colonialism Biggar concludes ‘It was not essentially racist, exploitative or wantonly violent’ (p 297), but perhaps he is doing the ‘over-egging’ here… Virtually all writers on colonialism agree that you cannot draw up a credit/debit balance sheet, and then surreptitiously seem to be doing so. In the current academic, and increasingly popular, environment where the debit side is seen to be incontestably correct, Biggar’s articulate, scholarly, fully researched and largely unpolemical counter lands its impressive weight very largely on the credit side.” John Root, “Can We Give Colonialism a Moral Reckoning?,” https://www.psephizo.com/reviews/can-we-give-colonialism-a-moral-reckoning/ (accessed 6 June 2023).

[35] Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion Is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 10. In his book, Sanneh gives priority to “the indigenous discovery of Christianity rather than the Christian discovery of indigenous societies.”

[36] Andrew Atherstone and David Ceri Jones, eds., Making Evangelical History: Faith, Scholarship and the Evangelical Past (London and New York: Routledge, 2019), 1.

[37] Atherstone and Jones, Making Evangelical History, 1.

[38] For a fascinating account of how local communities contribute to how history is told, see Aamna Mohdin, “How the Fall of Edward Colston’s Statue Revolutionised the Way British History Is Told,” The Guardian, 5 May 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2023/may/05/how-the-fall-of-edward-colstons-statue-revolutionised-the-way-british-history-is-told (accessed 5 May 2023). Mohdin points out that in the UK “[a]rchiving is overwhelmingly white, and as a result one of the least representative professions. This inevitably impacts which stories are valued and where they come from …” Unlike most archival institutions or libraries where the people who do the archiving and collecting are the same people who decide on what is archived, this University of Manchester based Centre is a community-led archive.

[39] Vince L. Bantu, A Multitude of All Peoples: Engaging Ancient Christianity’s Global Identity (Downers Grove: IVP, 2020), 9.

[40] T. D. Gener and L. Bautista, “Theological Method,” in Global Dictionary of Theology, ed. William Dryness and Veli-Matti Karkkainan (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008), 890.

[41] Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion Is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 56.

[42] Gina Zurlo, Global Christianity: A Guide to the World’s Largest Religion from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2022), Location 692.

[43] For more on this, see Taber, The World is Too Much with Us.

[44] Kim, “Racism Awareness in Mission,” 383.

[45] Jennings, The Christian Imagination, 115.

[46] It is important to note that in Paul’s theology of reconciliation we must hold together the practices of peace and justice. This is seen “especially in relations between Gentiles and Jews and between the haves and the have-nots. These two interests coalesce in Paul’s ongoing interest in the collection for the poor, especially the poor in Jerusalem (Rom. 15:22–32…)” Michael Gorman, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015), 164. See also: Arend van Dorp, Ethnic Diversity and Reconciliation: A Missional Model for the Church in Myanmar (Carlisle: Langham Global Library, 2022); Peter Rowan, Proclaiming the Peacemaker: The Malaysian Church as an Agent for Reconciliation in a Multicultural Society (Oxford: Regnum, 2012), “Proclaiming Reconciliation in our Being, Doing, and Telling” in Mission Round Table 13, no. 1 (2018): 4–11, https://omf.org/proclaiming-reconciliation-in-our-being-doing-and-telling (accessed 30 May 2023); and John W. de Gruchy, Reconciliation: Restoring Justice (London: SCM, 2002).

[47] The Lausanne Movement, The Cape Town Commitment: A Confession of Faith and a Call to Action (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2011), 40.

[48] Michael Cassidy, The Passing Summer: A South African Pilgrimage in the Politics of Love (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1989), 283. For Cassidy, reconciliation in the context of South African apartheid was both grim and glorious—“grim because so many white Christians see reconciliation as political and therefore to be shunned, and most black Christians see reconciliation as cheap and therefore to be ignored.” Glorious “because it is central to the heart of Jesus, pivotal to the New Testament, and inescapable for South Africa.” The Passing Summer (1989), 261. The National Initiative for Reconciliation took place in Pietermaritzburg in September 1985.

[49] Ben Lindsay, We Need to Talk About Race: Understanding the Black Experience in White Majority Churches (London: SPCK, 2019), Kindle Location 158.

[50] Teju Cole, “The White-Savior Industrial Complex,” The Atlantic, 21 March 2012,  https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/ (accessed 2 May 2023).

[51] Cole, “The White-Savior Industrial Complex.”

[52] Nova Reid, “No More White Saviors, Thanks: How to Be a True Anti-racist Ally,” The Observer, 19 September 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/19/no-more-white-saviours-thanks-how-to-be-a-true-anti-racist-ally (accessed 24 May 2023).

[53] On White Saviourism, see also Harvey Kwiyani, “What Is Wrong with White Saviourism?,” Global Witness, Globally Reimagined, 9 March 2023, https://harveykwiyani.substack.com/p/what-is-wrong-with-white-saviourism? (accessed 24 May 2023).

[54] Jennings, “Overcoming Racial Faith,” 7.

[55] Martin Munyao, “Whiteness in Christianity and Decoloniality of the African Experience: Developing a Political Theology for ‘Shalom’ in Kenya,” INFEMIT, https://infemit.org/whiteness-christianity-decoloniality/ (accessed 17 February 2023).

[56] Kenneth Cragg, Christianity in World Perspective (London: Lutterworth, 1968), 24, https://archive.org/details/christianityinwo0000kenn (accessed 19 June 2023).

[57] See Scott A. Bessenecker, Overturning Tables: Freeing Missions form the Christian-Industrial Complex (Downers Grove: IVP, 2014) and Michael Stroope, Transcending Mission: The Eclipse of a Modern Tradition (Downers Grove: IVP, 2017).

[58] Cragg, Christianity in World Perspective, 26–27.

[59] For instance, see the Stott-Bediako Forum 2022, “Jesus and Empire: Christian Witness in the Context of Power,” Arad, Romania, 29–31 October 2022,  https://infemit.org/sb2022/ (accessed 23 May 2023). See also Israel Olofinjana, “Decolonising Mission: Learning from the Majority World Template of Suffering and Sacrifice,” Lausanne Global Analysis 9, no. 5 (September 2020), https://lausanne.org/content/lga/2020-09/decolonizing-mission (accessed 19 May 2023); Harvey Kwiyani, “The Rise of World Christianity and the Decolonising of Mission,” William Temple Foundation (blog), 22 October 2021, https://williamtemplefoundation.org.uk/blog-decolonsing-mission/ (accessed 19 May 2023); Michael Marten points out the difference between “decolonisation” and “decolonising”: “decolonising is not a process that ever ends, but is something that we continually engage with and reflect upon, perpetually developing and transforming our understandings and our discourses (we might in this context reflect particularly upon Pierre Bourdieu’s understanding of the way in which scholarly exploration should also be self-reflective and involve “radical questioning”, as we continually recreate and develop discourse, in an awareness of the social space that we occupy as scholars).” Michael Marten, “Decolonising Missions and Preaching: The Implicated Self and the Reframing of the Missionary Phenomenon,” in Missions and Preaching: Connected and Decompartmentalised Perspectives from the Middle East and North Africa (19th-21st Century) (Leiden: Brill, 2022), 418.

[60] Kwiyani, “Mission in the Age of Modern Christianity.” See also his newsletter: Global Witness, Globally Reimagined, https://harveykwiyani.substack.com.

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