I recently recommended K.P. Yohannan’s book, Revolution in World Missions, and the mission agency Gospel for Asia as exemplifying what I believe to be the most effective way of fulfilling the great commission of Jesus Christ in our day. GracEmail subscriber Harold Patterson, Director of the World Missions Department for the Advent Christian General Conference of America, responded with a different point of view. Following are his thoughts which I am happy to share for your consideration. His email address is WorldMissions@adventchristian.org .
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“While on the surface [western support of native Asian missionaries] appears to be a practical and economical way of spreading the gospel, I believe it runs contrary to Scripture. The biggest fault is it places the emphasis upon the western church as being a source of money and not a sending agency. I believe the great commission commands us to go into all the world and preach the Word of the gospel to every creature and to make disciples. I do not believe God will bless a work or a denomination’s mission effort that doesn’t seek to be a sending agency.
“Our local churches are commanded to pray and enlist people to go. We are not to send surrogates or mercenaries to do the job for us. We may be willing to help them in ministry, but this should not be the primary method of mission strategy of the church. Many churches would lose the message of having God call people from their ministries. This historically has been God’s plan (see Acts 13).
“I am also concerned with the issue that money corrupts. If you look at the New Testament, you will find the way the money flows is not from Jerusalem to the mission areas of the world but from the mission areas of the world to Jerusalem. Read through Acts and you will find that Paul never established a dependent church to be supported from elsewhere. The proper teaching of all believers would be for them to be responsible for tithing and supporting a pastor at their level of living. Theoretically, ten families ought to support a pastor. This should be true whether the church is in the United States or on a foreign field.
“I would certainly admit that we also support national pastors in many places. We have some folks overseas who are true missionaries in the sense that they have started churches in other countries we are helping. But I honestly believe with all of my heart that the New Testament teaches that the local churches must be the sending agencies not merely a supporting agency. Your gracEmail is read by many of our pastors and they are beginning to react. I felt that I needed to comment on this issue.”