Missionary Training

Are Western Missionaries Needed?

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Written by Lillian Hunsberger

I know, I know. There are horror stories about how western missionaries can ruin the culture, or the way that they can go in strong-headed and then bail when things get hard. However, the negative almost always seems to find it’s way to the surface before the positive. Yet, that does not mean the horror stories are all that there are.  It doesn’t mean that there still isn’t a need for western missionaries.

Those Who Think We Don’t Need Western Missionaries

First I’m going to start out saying that I respect the view of my brother in Christ, Kendrick Storm. In his blog “Western Missionaries are Needed to Reach the Unreached People Group?”.  he discusses his thought process as to why the world does not need western missionaries anymore.

Storm brings up what appears to be some valid arguments. I do believe that God is at work within the hearts of native Christians through visions and dreams. I believe that God is at work through the lives of many people, and turning their stone hearts to fleshly ones.

But in saying this, I don’t believe that there are only two ways in order for God to work amongst His people. I believe God gives western missionaries the passion and love for people in other cultures in order to go to those foreign places in order introduce them to the love and truth of Christ.

Stan Guthrie fights to keep western missionaries around by saying:

“Moreover those who wish only to give and not to go need to be reminded that if all ministry were done by Christians of the same ethnic groups as their non-Christian neighbors, some 4,000 sociolinguistic people groups without any Christian witness would remain unreached forever. The fact is, cross-cultural Western missionaries will be needed for the foreseeable future. There is more than enough work for everyone.”

Statistics Aren’t Always Everything

Storm first brings up the argument that unreached could mean that there are still could be up to 2% of Christians in “unreached areas”. That is true. Our definition of “unreached people group” means there are 2% or fewer Christians in that area. Though we don’t feel secure about the group until we are able to surround our brothers and sisters in Christ with more people who believe in the faith, like us.

There is a type of intimidation that comes from being one of the only people who believes a certain thing. There is a fear that comes with being alone, even if the reality is there are still 20,000 people who stand with you, there are also 980,000 that don’t.

The sad reality is even when we have brothers and sisters standing with us, it’s still hard to stand strong in God, sometimes. Though we should not fear because we are told multiple times that we should not be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16, 2 Timothy 1:8).

God is moving, yet there is still a call for His workers to go. There are still people who are unreached and lost. Honestly, as long as there is even a percentage of the world that doesn’t know Christ, I feel like there is a need for missionaries to be sent out.

Vision/Dreams Work, But There Are Other Ways

There are many people who have been blessed by God by giving them visions or dreams. There are countless examples in the Bible about how God uses dreams and visions to be at work within people. Some examples are God speaking to Abraham (Genesis 15:1), Solomon (1 Kings 3:5), or even the vision that Paul received to continue preaching (Acts 18:9-11).

Though we have a way of believing that God can only work in one way or another. The reality, though, is that God is constantly moving in and around us. It’s just a question of our awareness of it.

Let me repeat that: God is moving. You just might not be aware.  God works in countless different ways. Whether that be through His word, nature, other believers, music, even the hardships that we find ourselves in, God is constantly at work. 

God is going to find a way to speak to us and be on the move. Visions and dreams are a great way in order for God to get in touch with those who are falling away from Him, or completely away from Him. But there are also those who God uses in order to impact those around them and grow them themselves.

Meeting People Where They Are At

One thing I’ve learned since being at BGU is that the majority of missionary life is not changing lives. You most likely won’t be the missionary who is leading people to Christ every single day (though, it’s my prayer that you will be). You most likely will be living amongst the people.

Sometimes that can be a hard truth to swallow. Majority of people don’t want to change their whole world.

We bring the gospel, Bibles, and hymn books. The western missionaries provide baptisms, discipleship, and places to meet. We choose the leaders, care for orphans, build hospitals, rescue the broken and care for the crippled.

Though these things aren’t bad at all and can be very helpful. The question has to be asked: what’s left for them to do? It’s not about “fixing them”. It’s about serving alongside with them, and loving them through it might seem like a mess at first.

God Is Still Using Western Missionaries

If Western Missionaries were not needed anymore, I seriously believe that he would take my passions from me. My passion to help people, the fire that burns in me for territories unknown, the dreams of worldwide salvation; if I wasn’t supposed to go, I doubt that God would fill me with the desire to.

There are countless stories of western missionaries going out and spreading the gospel to those who need the truth. Whether that be the well-known story of Jim Elliot and the team he had when trying to convert the Wadani Indians as recorded in End of the Spear or less known stories like “Unto the Nations”.

God used these individuals and countless others in order to further His kingdom. Until God stops allowing the works of missionaries to be prosperous, I will continue to take it as a sign that this is my job. For I am willing to go so that my eternal family may grow.

I have a hope that God is going to be at work in those who are willing to be used. Read why every Christian should consider being a missionary.

I believe that God is going to grant a passion to each person around us. He will work through anyone who is willing. When God stops calling my name, that will be when I believe that I shouldn’t go. That is when I will believe that God isn’t calling western missionaries anymore. I plead with you to do the same. God will move through you in amazing ways if you are simply willing.

Western Missionaries are needed. Missionaries in general are needed. God is still touching the world and changing hearts, and he wants to use you in order to do so.

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