Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reverse Missions to the 'Dark Continent' (Part 1)

"This is such a dark place."

The irony stopped me in my tracks. The speaker was Jonas Kouassi-Zessia, an African émigré to Europe who had planted a church there.
In the 19th and 20th centuries Europe – and America – was sending missionaries to Africa. Europeans and Americans referred to Africa as the "Dark Continent." Now, in the eyes of an African Christian leader, it was Europe shrouded in darkness.

I recently spent two weeks with Pastor Kouassi-Zessia in Copenhagen, and with his counterparts in Paris. I was there to conduct "Globequake" conferences, focusing on helping churches stay steady and minister effectively in an environment of intense change.

I discovered people who are on the leading edge of "reverse missions" in Europe. Missionaries had once gone to their home nations, but now the Africans, many of them the second or third generation fruit of Western missions, are immigrating to Europe. They work in many vocations, but at the core they see themselves as envoys of God's Kingdom in the new "Dark Continent."

In contrast to the missions model of the 19th and 20th centuries, these "missionaries" have no sending agency that helps them with support. They are anchored to strong churches in Africa, but they come to Europe to get jobs. In the process they become examples of "as you go" evangelism and discipleship. Read more

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