Tuesday, July 31, 2007
America Takes on Humility in Changing Global Mission Landscape
By Audrey Barrick
Christian Post Reporter
Tue, Jul. 31 2007 05:58 PM ET
More countries that have been receiving Christian missionaries from the United States are recognizing that they need to send more missionaries to America, a national campus fellowship leader said.
"We (America) certainly are no longer the center of the universe in terms of the Christian world," said Alec Hill, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship U.S.A.
Like many evangelical leaders, Hill predicts that the United States will increasingly become a mission field for foreign evangelists and he welcomes it.
Hill recently came out of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students' world assembly in the Canadian city of Ancaster, Ontario, earlier this month when more than 600 representatives from 140 countries convened for the network's flagship meeting. Attendants represented movements reaching 400,000 students.
Representatives from North America found themselves in the minority among conference participants which Hill thought was "obvious and wonderful."
"When you look at countries like South Korea and Brazil and certainly African nations, Europe is already receiving them (foreign evangelists). It's a mission field," said Hill, according to InterVarsity. "There are huge populations of immigrants. Missionaries are being sent to reach those populations, but I think there’s recognition in many of these countries that they need to send more missionaries here."
More believers in the 2/3 world realize that the church in the West is on the decline and the majority of Christians are now found in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Oscar Muriu, senior pastor of Nairobi Chapel in Kenya, has named America the third largest mission field and the third largest pagan country in the world.
Meanwhile, the U.S. population becomes more diverse with refugee and immigrant populations. Hundreds of thousands of foreign students are on U.S. college campuses, Hill pointed out, making it accessible for U.S. Christian students to participate in "world missions" without going overseas.
Thankfully, InterVarsity began to seriously move towards a multiethnic approach 20 to 25 years ago, said Hill.
American Christians have been and continue to be an integral part of world missions, but this time, they're taking a more humble approach.
"I think what I saw at World Assembly was that we as American InterVarsity have played a critical role in world missions and in the development of world changers," said Hill. "But at the same time, and this is a very important point, there was an appropriate humility among the American delegation. We were not front and center. We were very much in the service mode. "