I don't really put a lot of emphasis in statistics. Oftentimes I see them misused or skewed because the right questions are not being asked. However, this morning I was looking over the following quote from the 1999 Report from Global Consultation on Evangelical Missiology. Here is what it says:
Eight out of ten nationals who come to the West to receive training never return home.
Now I admit that I have not read the whole report and I am sure that there are many other comments as to why the numbers are the way they are. But this had me thinking for a second about how we counsel others in regard to cross-cultural training for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel in a "non-English speaking" context.
First, one of the desires of Psalm 67 is to work in "non-English speaking" contexts. While one could argue the need to teach others the English language, that will not be our task. We desire all nations (and language groups) to have access to the Scriptures in their own language. We love the thought of brothers and sisters of multiple languages praising The Lord together in their own language that The Lord has given them.
Second, out of good intentions, and because we have hospitable, caring partners, we struggle with the "let's invite them here" mentality. We meet church leaders, new converts that want to be discipled and we love them, and want to "bring them home." Though we could have lots of discussion on this, here is a thought for consideration. Are there ways that already exist to "home school" these individuals? Are there ways that we can send others back to the region (and language) of these individuals that it may benefit everyone around, locally and at home? If so, how can/should we do this? Let me say that this is not the only option, but perhaps this option is not considered as much as the option to first teach a foreign language (English) to a national from another country, bring them to the US, and then train them theologically.
In a follow up post we will discuss some advice for those who are desiring to serve in a "non-English speaking" context and how you can prepare yourself for service.
Let the Nations be Glad!
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