By Gerald Reimer
Our conference is engaged in numerous Canadian church planting initiatives among recent immigrants. For many of us, we are already fourth or fifth generation immigrants, pointing back to the late 19th century when our ancestors arrived.
What took place in those early days of the settlers, and the colonialism that they engaged in, is another topic altogether. But the reality is that cross-cultural mission’s strategy through the last several centuries has been perhaps led by, and certainly viewed as, a Western movement towards the Far East and Global South.
In the First Era of modern missions in the late 1700s, we see the likes of William Carey, who led the masses out of Western Europe to the coastlands of India.
In the Second Era, beginning in the middle of the 19th century, Hudson Taylor, still in his 20s, courageously went from America into China’s interior, with a focus on those untouched by the coastal mission efforts.
Now we are in the Third Era, and as the strategy continues to unfold, it clearly is led by a focus on specific people groups who remain unreached. Ralph Winter is considered the impetus behind this focus, which began around the 1960s. However, what is also unique about this era is that the majority of this mission force is not from Europe, nor from America, but from the Majority World.
Missionaries by the thousands are engaging in ministry—from Korea and China and other parts of Asia, from Central and South America, from the South Pacific and beyond.
And what is their focus? It is on reaching nations of people who share a language and culture, but who have never heard the gospel. Their focus is also on the diaspora, the scattering of their own people who have spread out around the world. But their focus is not just on their own, nor just the unreached, but on wherever God leads. Sometimes this means reaching people from their own culture, which is easier; sometimes it means reaching people of other cultures and languages that take years of effort to understand.
What then is the role of Western Christians in The Great Commission? Missiologists are agreed that the church in the West has much more to do. There remain an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 unreached people groups around the world that need evangelists and church planters who will come and build hospitals, plant churches, open schools, teach business for mission, and disciple and equip the local people to reach their own for Christ.
But for those of us who remain behind, our role is not nullified. As servants of Christ, The Great Commission remains for us to obey, too. One of the ways we can stay engaged is in our partnerships with recent immigrants and their church planting efforts here in Canada.
Yvonne W. Huneycutt, a writer, teacher and consultant with the Perspectives course being taught around the world, says this about partnership: “What is necessary now is partnership in pioneering. The non-Western church is in many ways on an equal footing with the Western church in finishing the remaining task.”
Let’s not miss this golden opportunity to partner with our Majority World brothers and sisters who have recently arrived in Canada. They are looking to not only evangelize and grow the Kingdom in our country, but to also return to their homelands with the support of the wider church in Canada. May we be found faithful in continuing to fulfill The Great Commission in new and creative ways!