History: The Three Eras of Modern Missions
The two emerging dynamics Dr. Timothy Crouch reflected on in his email are non-receptivity to Westerners and a strong animosity toward a Christian presence. These progressive changes can affect the relationships on how local Alliance Churches relate to the overseas churches and national church organizations.
The non-receptivity to Westerners causes a defensive stance against those who want to reach out to local or national churches overseas. I feel that God always looks for those who will stand in the gap (see Ezekiel 22:30). Another strategic concept which is mentioned in Ralph D. Winter’s article is a “Bridge of God” where you have “one or more believers in an otherwise unpenetrated group” (Three Mission Eras, 266). This strategy may be the answer to winning souls in a less than friendly country where westerners are not welcomed. A relationship that bonds those who are willing to receive the gospel and accept good advance from their distant western Christian family may be the bond that ties the foreign local church to the western missionaries.
This strategy may also work well with national church organizations if it is accompanied with the needs of their nation. National missionary organizations like Franklin Graham’s Shoe Box or an organization which digs wells for people groups without sufficient water supplies may be the “shoe in” that softens the animosity between the unwanted Christian presence and foreign churches and national organizations. The Christian missionaries whose desire is to reach lost people groups where there is “non-receptive” or “strong animosity” towards them may want to couple the “Bridge of God” approach or work with a national organization which is already established in that country which meets the needs of the people group they are trying to reach.
I think by joining an organization, for example that digs wells, we might be able to network nearby villages with each other as they receive a new commonality. In this case, a new water supply. The missionary can build relationships with the local people and find a “Bridge of God” which may flourish in the new network of people who need to hear the Gospel. These strategies must be undergirded with prayer. Prayer can move the hands that hold the universe together and establish relationships which will connect people to win souls for church and Kingdom missions. God is looking for someone to stand in the gap. Will it be you?