New Roles for Western Workers

Today in the MENA region, there are believers in just about every area – at least in small numbers. Whereas in the past missionaries were truly pioneers in areas devoid of Christian witness, they now can work beside national believers.

But will they?

If you didn’t know already, you might be surprised to learn that many foreign workers are actually trained not to work with the national Church. This is largely because, in the Middle East, partnerships between missionaries and nationals have been notoriously problematic.

To over-generalize, Westerners criticize the nationals for not being open to reaching people from other religions and for being hard-headed and competitive, and nationals criticize the Westerners of being culturally naïve, overzealous, and uncompromising on their strategies and philosophies.

On top of that, in the last 30 years, increasing numbers of Western workers have been indoctrinated in extreme forms of contextualization, like the Insider Movement, and regard the church as westernized and irrelevant – unsuitable to reach the unchurched masses.

I pray that there would be transformation on both sides – that Western workers would begin to see the incredible potential in the Christians of MENA, and learn to become influential mobilizers and vision-casters among them. I also pray that the Arab churches would take up the Great Commission as their own, and learn to work with Western workers, and help them understand the culture and how to work in the region more effectively.

I dream of mixed teams of nationals and Western workers, pooling their resources and expertise, and unlocking each other’s potential to glorify the name of Christ in MENA. This would be a beautiful fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer In John 17:

“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.”

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