Today, Europe and North America are mission fields just as much as other parts of the world.
I grew up with Eric B. Hare-type mission stories and I loved them. In my subconscious, mission stories still mean Burma, Africa, and Papua New Guinea. So I was pleased to learn that the story in this issue of Frontline comes from Myanmar, also known as Burma. Those kinds of mission stories still happen. But the fact is that the face of mission has been and still is rapidly changing because our world is changing. The “traditional” mission field still exists in some developing areas, but developed countries that were once “reached” aren’t necessarily reached anymore because secularism is replacing Christianity. Today, Europe and North America are mission fields just as much as other parts of the world.
Naturally, planting new groups of believers requires different approaches today as well. We can’t walk into urban secularized areas with a picture roll and expect crowds of people to stop and listen. And it’s increasingly difficult to attract masses of secular people to public evangelistic meetings. Fortunately, we can follow Christ’s method and develop one-on-one relationships with people, become friends, build trust, and then finally invite them to follow Him.
I recently read a report from the Netherlands where Adventists are trying a unique approach to church planting in Arnhem; they are mingling and building relationships by inviting their community to a “Sabbath high tea” twice a month. And it’s more than a high tea—it’s a healthy high tea. Right away, people are introduced to healthy living and Sabbath rest because those needs are felt most strongly. They want to be healthy and they want to rest from the busyness of their lives. This approach resonates with them, and Christians and non-Christians alike are participating. From there, these new friendships branch out to other activities. As trust is earned over time, these Adventists invite their friends to Bible studies.
Yes, mission may look different in some ways, but it looks the same in other ways. People still need Jesus and the best way to bring them to Him is to go, befriend them, and then introduce them.
It is your generosity that makes it possible for Global Mission to support mission projects both of the traditional and less traditional types. Thank you for your gifts to Global Mission.