by Wonsuk and Julie C. Ma, editors
With the increasing shift in mission personnel from Western to non-Western countries, how do Asian “mission-ed” churches grow up to become “mission-ing” churches?
Studies Presented in the International Symposium on Asian Mission in Manila, January 2002. Asian Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary, P.O. Box 377, Baguio City 2600, Philippines, 2003, 280 pages, $12.00.
—Reviewed by Sheryl Takagi Silzer, adjunct faculty, Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, California.
With the increasing shift in mission personnel from Western to non-Western countries, how do Asian “mission-ed” churches grow up to become “mission-ing” churches? This collection of papers, presented to the International Symposium on Asian Mission by sixteen multi-ethnic group of authors (Burmese, Canadian, Filipino, Filipino-Chinese, Finnish, Honduran, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Nepali, Swiss and North American), addresses this significant issue. The wide variety of ethnicities brings a good mixture of voices to the book.
The book is divided into three sections—reflections, context and strategies. Paul Pierson’s opening reflection characterizes the Christian mission in Asia as validating the need for a new paradigm for mission.
A recurring theme in the book is gratitude to the West for bringing the gospel. The struggles and hardships of Western missionaries are recognized and appreciated. Although the authors realize that Western strategies do not enable the Asian church to become a “mission-ing” church, they recognize the need to work with Western Christians to develop a new paradigm.
Western secular, individualistic and materialistic cultures shaped the “mission-ed” churches of Asia (Alvarez). Now westerners need to understand the Asian cultural context. The Western legacy does not adequately enable the Asian church to be “mission-ing” Catholic (Maggay), pantheistic (Takamizawa) and pluralistic (Kärkkäinen and Sharma) cultures. These cultures are deeply influenced by the spiritual realities of ancestor veneration (J. Ma), and Asians are acutely aware of the spiritual impact on power structures (Plüss). Julie Ma suggests that Pentecostal theology, which emphasizes that there is a “constant immanent encounter with the ultimate transcendental,” appeals to the Asian mentality (142).
In order to reach the remaining peoples for Christ, the authors also discuss issues in short-term mission strategies (Kim), the role of tentmakers (Peever), mobilizing churches using the church growth model in China (Lim) and examining mission church structures (Tan). In light of the new mission context and Asia’s social context, Venugopal presents a thought-provoking article on educational needs. Western education has unfortunately “divorced social transformation from evangelism” and “limited discipleship to maturation in knowledge” (248). To develop an education that reveals the Imago Dei in Asian believers, a different definition of education will be needed. This will affect mission training programs (Alvarez) and the kind of partnerships that need to be developed (Kham).
The last article by White (an American) presents the strategy of church multiplication through coaching networks. His lists of components, sample schedules and benefits do not seem to fit with the rest of the book.
Asian Church & God’s Mission is a must-read for Western missologists who are serious about helping the church in Asia to become a “mission-ing” church.
Check these titles:
Spencer, Aída Besançon and William David Spencer, eds. 1998. The Global God: Multicultural Evangelical Views of God. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.
Phan, Peter C. 2003. In Our Own Tongues: Perspectives from Asia on Mission and Inculturation. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books.
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