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Advantages of Native Missions

Although a native missionary does face many difficult obstacles in preaching the gospel, they have fewer barriers to overcome than their western counterparts. In addition, missionaries from western nations are seldom as effective in reaching the unreached peoples groups within the 10/40 Window as are the native missionaries. Below we list a few of the most important advantages of sending and supporting native missionaries to reach their own people.

1. Human Resources

Before going to war, military strategists consider the size of their population as opposed to that of their enemy. This simply means that the amount of human resources available to carry out a task is extremely important. The world is a very large place with more than six billion people. If every Christian in America was a foreign missionary, there would still not be enough missionaries to preach the Gospel to all peoples. If we continue to depend only on missionaries from the West, much of the world will never hear the Gospel.

2. Financial Resources

It costs a great deal of money to send and support North American and Western European missionaries. Many western missionary families require $3000 to $4000 a month to work in a foreign land where the average salary is often less than $200 a month. In contrast, the indigenous or native missionary is able to live on the same salary as his fellow countrymen.

The native missionary does not require that financial resources be used to transport them thousands of miles nor does he require any special social or language education. All this and more add up to a tremendous savings and increases the economic power of our current financial reserves. For what it costs to support one North American missionary with a monthly support of $4000, it is possible to support between 20 to 25 native missionaries! Now this is a wise investment and use of God's finances - is it not?

3. Language and Culture

Any cross-cultural missionary will testify that language and culture are two of the greatest obstacles to the work. It often takes a cross-cultural missionary his first term (4-5 years) just to learn the language and adjust to the culture. Five years and a quarter of a million dollars are spent on the mission field to learn the language, adjust to the culture, and do a minimum of ministry.

In contrast, the native missionary has no need to learn the language or adjust to the culture that he has known since birth. They already know the language or can easily learn a local dialect. From his very first day on the mission field, the native missionary can concentrate on his two priorities - evangelizing the lost and planting churches.

4. Social and Economic Identification

There is much anti-American and anti-European bias in many of the least evangelized countries of the world. In many people groups, it is virtually impossible for a western missionary to preach the Gospel because he is rejected for his nationality long before he has the opportunity to communicate his message! In contrast, the indigenous missionary has little problem with such bias because he is of the same flesh and blood as those to whom he preaches. When he is rejected, it is not for the sake of his flag, but for the sake of his Gospel.

Another problem that missionaries from the West often face is their inability or unwillingness to live on the same level as those to whom they minister. Western missionaries will often live in homes that are seen as "mansions" to those they are trying to reach out to. They tend to drive trucks or cars while the native takes a bus; and they send their children to private school, while the native sends his to public school. This is not the case of a native missionary. The native missionary simply does not have the income to live in such apparent "luxury".

In contrast, the native missionary’s support income is adjusted according to the average salary of his own countrymen. The native missionary lives in the same neighborhood, takes the same bus, and his children attend the same school as their own children. A native missionary is a "regular Joe" while the western missionary is the "rich preacher".

5. No Difficult Transitions

For the cross-cultural missionary, church planting is often not as difficult as the later transitional period when the missionary bids farewell and the church comes under national leadership. The church often suffers a great deal during this transitional period, loses members, and is greatly discouraged. Having experienced the prestige of a western missionary as pastor, the church is often no longer willing to accept one of its own. This is not a problem when the church is planted by an indigenous missionary and is under his leadership from beginning to end.

6. Visa Issues are Not a Concern

They are citizens in the country where they serve and their work can never be disrupted by the expiration or cancellation of visas. If wars or political instability develop, they stay on. They generally avoid the stigma of being known or seen as a “foreigner.”

7. The Social-Political Barrier is Greatly Minimized or Removed

There are many countries around the world where “Americans” or any “Western missionaries” are disliked and often times hated. Simply being labeled an “American” in such places, like Iran or the Gaza Strip, will automatically stigmatize the person, and the message they would hope to bring is also stigmatized.

In most nations that remain unreached, propaganda is a powerful too. In such nations, social and political propaganda often promote ideologies that present western missionaries as propagandists and subversives; sent by opposing foreign governments to undermine the local government and impart new political and religious. Such ideologies are considered to be destructive to the people and the government in power. It’s unfortunate but often times, the goal of such propaganda is to stigmatize the foreign missionary, the message he brings, and ultimately the Christian faith. Once again, an indigenous missionary can more readily overcome this barrier.

Although they face also face the barriers aimed at hindering the gospel, the native missionary is not seen as a propagandist or a subversive. They are seen as another citizen, a fellow countryman. Because of this, they can more readily go and preach a message where a western missionary could not hope to go.

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