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What if a Missionary Came to My Church?

"As a student at Fuller, I thought I was familiar with Hebrews. Then I read Jesus in African Culture: A Ghanaian Perspective by Kwame Bediako.

"Never before did I have as clear an understanding of Jesus Christ as High Priest and sole mediator! From a world away, in the context of another culture, I gained a new understanding of my Lord."
   - Harley A. Crain, Lynnwood, WA

Many believers from the two-thirds world have extraordinary faith. They may have experienced persecution or poverty, accompanied by miraculous answers to prayer. Their testimony can be very powerful.

People who study missions tell us that countries which formerly received missionaries are now sending out missionaries all around the globe! Although it may sound surprising, many missionaries are coming to the United States today from Asia, Africa, and South America.

This is an exciting trend, which can be a great benefit to our churches here. We have much to learn from these brothers and sisters, and their presence may help you reach out to immigrant communities in your town.

Dr. Corkie Hahn, with Mission America, says that when he was a pastor in Boulder, Colorado, an African missionary came to his town. Though Dr. Hahn had been a pastor for 30 years, he learned much from this young missionary, whose deep faith made a profound impact on their community.

This is a wonderful opportunity. Has your church ever considered sponsoring a foreign pastor to come and minister to your church? It is a great way to develop relationships, learn more about another culture, and instill a missionary vision in your young people!

In his book, The Changing Face of the Church: From American to Global, Tom Nees shares his own experience:

"In the early 1970s I served for a time as pastor of Washington, D.C., First Church of the Nazarene - then a white congregation struggling with the need to minister to its African-American neighbors in the nation's first city with a majority Black population.

"A Nazarene pastor of African descent from Guyana happened by to visit. I learned later that his son was a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Rev. Carleton Helliger expressed his interest in attending the church and eventually bringing his wife and younger children to the United States. This happened to be the second immigrant family our family had the privilege of greeting as they entered the United States through Washington National Airport.

While the congregation at that time was entirely white and was not sure about opening its membership to minority people, it could hardly resist this ordained Nazarene pastor from Guyana. I had the privilege of receiving him and his family into membership, the first minorities to join. They helped change the face of that congregation. In time, Washington First Church became a growing, international, multicultural congregation reaching out to its neighbors living nearby as well as those who drive for miles to a part of an inclusive congregation.

We didn't talk about it then, but as I look back, I see Rev. Helliger was a missionary of sorts in Washington, D.C., who helped us expand our mission to include not only an immigrant family but also our minority neighbors too long excluded from our worship and fellowship.
   - Tom Nees

Learn More:

The Changing Face of the Church: From American to Global
By Tom Nees, published by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City.

Learn More:

Jesus And The Gospel In Africa: History And Experience
By Kwame Bediako
Published by Orbis Books

Compassion Evangelism: Meeting Human Needs
By Tom Nees, published by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City.

Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility
By Duane Elmer
Published by IVP Books

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