This is the seventh in a series of blogs on the Global Connections conference in May 2016, From Where I’m Sitting, where we sought to explore mission from different perspectives. You can listen to the talks on the Global Connections events page. I had the privilege to seek feedback on what was heard on the last morning and made a wide range of points.
Another key point raised was: The need for mutual respect and collaboration:
It has been interesting to hear Lucio, Israel and Harvey all allude to the sense of lack of welcome as equals. At the Global Connections conference in 2011, Peter Oyugi (a Kenyan missionary to the UK) said this: “We could cite examples of situations where due to years of some Western missionaries being patronising and domineering in the mission fields, contributions of those from the global south have been practically ignored. Those of us who have come to the UK can experience the same thing.”
After a consultation at St Saviours Guildford in 2014 on how can we listen to the Global church, Phil Simpson (formerly of CMS) said: “For me the issue is that we need to tackle our inherent national pride (God is British or actually for me as an English male an ‘Englishman’) and ‘decolonialising’ our mission, shifting to taking more of a lead from the Global South – especially the diaspora in our midst – including their voice in what we plan and do.”
I think many Westerners, especially those involved in cross-cultural mission, have realised the need for more respect, mutuality and equality. So this is not a rant about our colonial past. However how can we as a mission movement help the church in this country realise the riches in their midst? To quote Harvey, British Christians prayed for revival and when it came did not recognise it as it was black.
Do mission agencies have a role to play in helping the church change to a position of welcome, respect and partnership between equals? Can God’s new community of all nations and tongues here in the UK and throughout the world be a community of mutual encouragement and learning, engaged together in showing forth God’s love in His world?
We can seek unity in diversity that flourishes where we understand and trust one another in our differences as well as in our agreements, listen humbly to one another, seek forgiveness where we have injured our brothers and sisters in Christ, and rejoice in the multi-coloured grace of God.
In the words of Andrew Walls “Together we can be a new community – a hundred places learning from each other, with no one single centre of Christianity or single type of mission activity.”
So a key question: “Can we help the UK church become a more welcoming place for people of other ethnicities, especially missionaries in our midst?”