Partnering with “mission from below” to reveal God’s mission from Above

Dr. Samuel Escobar is professor of missiology at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, PA.
Dr. Samuel Escobar was professor of missiology at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, PA.

I love this quote from Samuel Escobar’s book “The New Global Mission: The Gospel from Everywhere to Everyone” …

Drive and inspiration to move forward and take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, crossing all kinds of geographical and cultural barriers is the work of the Holy Spirit. There is an element of mystery when the dynamism of mission does not come from people in positions of power and privilege, or from the the expansive dynamism of a superior civilization, but from below—from the little ones, those who have few material, financial or technical resource but who are open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. …

It was in 1927 that Roland Allen (1869–1947) first coined the expression, “the spontaneous expansion of the the church,” and we can now measure the incredible extent to which a Christian testimony among the masses of this planet has been the result of such spontaneous expansion, especially in China, Africa and Latin America. In many cases such expansion became possible only when indigenous Christians were released from the stifling control of Western missionary agencies.[1]

One of my very favorite mission books. –wm
One of my very favorite mission books. –wm

Why do I love this quote? It suggests, on the one hand, that the emerging fast-growing church in the “global south” does not need the wealthy church of the West (or “global north”) to grow and flourish and carry out its mission. On the other hand, it prompts this question:

Can the global church achieve true cross-cultural partnerships between … A) those in the church represented by “mission from below” (Christians in the global south: Africa, Asia, Latin America) … and B) those from the more wealthy churches of the Christian world in the global north (Christians in North America and the West)?

And in light of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21 — “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me,” consider this: Can we experience cross-cultural partnerships in Christ’s global church in such a healthy manner that the prayer of Jesus is fulfilled—that the world sees that the Father has sent Jesus … that this mission of Jesus is, in reality … God’s mission from Above?

At Mission ONE, we know this is a genuine possibility because we see it alive and working today and every day in our ministry. We also know that healthy cross-cultural partnerships are possible for you and your church tomorrow.

Interested? Write to me, Werner Mischke. Or if you have a comment, please post it below.

1. Samuel Escobar: The New Global Mission: The Gospel from Everywhere to Everyone (InterVarsity, 2003) p. 19

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