From anywhere to anyone
Posted on August 16, 2018 by Jon Trotter
By Carol Tobin
Asia Regional Director and Mission Advocate
I am fascinated with the idea of multi-directional mission—this picture of gospel messengers crisscrossing the globe, everyone trying to be somewhere other than where they are. At first glance, the idea of all of us “going” sounds like a perfect recipe for chaos! But, somehow, this is what the Holy Spirit does when he gets a hold of us. Our hearts enlarge. Our vision expands. We go beyond our culturally comfortable borders.
Chaos aside, I see some counter-intuitive brilliance in this multi-directional madness. In the exchange of both giving and receiving across cultural borders, our cultures are inadvertently critiqued and marginalized and more facets of the gospel are able to shine out.
One thing is so obvious that it hardly needs to be stated: There are lively churches in the Global South! The Center for the Study of Global Christianity reports that “of the ten countries sending the most missionaries in 2010, three were in the Global South: Brazil, South Korea, and India.”1 Norma Teles is one of Brazil’s 34,000 missionaries. She brings a stalwart faith in God to do what would seem to be humanly impossible; we have the privilege of helping her to be fruitful in her calling to serve among the Roma in Albania.
Another very obvious fact is that God is bringing vibrant, faith-filled believers into our community. Through the “diaspora,” God is accomplishing the literal meaning of the word: he is scattering seeds! Francisco and Juanita Machado, for example, have brought to us a vibrant faith that was nurtured in the hostile context of Honduras. The threat to their lives that led to asylum here in the US has become a wonderful blessing – both to us, and to the lives they are impacting as church planters in Spain.
Likewise, we realize that one of the most vibrant congregations in our conference is pastored by Carlos and Wendy Malvaez, coming to us from Honduras and Mexico. There is much that we can learn from their lives of prayer and through their faith that the Holy Spirit is at work through them in healing and deliverance. Statistics identify 70% of the diaspora communities coming to the US as “Christian,” many of whom bring lively faith and energy for the formation of new faith communities. So, we might ask, “Why has God brought these people to us?”
Perhaps because we need them! A shift has occurred. The mission mantel is being picked up by those who have the faith to carry it, and laid down by those who don’t. Can we humbly realize that while we Westerners were the ones to go out in mission, we are increasingly the recipients of the missional impulses carried by others? I pray that we rejoice in this scattering of seed, gratefully embracing the gifts that come. May new confidence in what God has done through Jesus Christ take root in us as we relate together. May we figure out the means by which our financial, intellectual, and relational resources can be gifts among these others. In other words, let the multi-directional madness begin!
1 Christianity Today, July 24, 2013