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Is Missions Racist?

Is Missions Racist?

Mike Rhoades | May 28, 2015

By: Mike Rhoades

Riots in Boston. 

Shootings in Cleveland. 

Racial activists all over the news calling for reform. 

Our country is in the midst of the biggest race battle since the 60’s. Most people I’ve talked to are legitimately taken aback, unaware of the tension that had been boiling below the surface.

In light of the intense debate over racism consuming our country, I began to wonder if missions has been feeding our insensitivity to race and culture. Is missions racist?

On a base level, racism is simply one race of people treating another as inferior. If we put this in the context of missions, it’s easy to see the parallel. Each year upwards of 2 million people from the U.S. go on a short-term mission trip. Many experience incredible compassion for those they serve, most are forever changed by the lives they interact with. No one would ever say this is a bad thing, but for every person who gains genuine respect for a culture, five more retain an attitude of “they really needed us.”

Missions should not be about us (meaning North Americans) saving them (meaning people of other cultures). It should be about churches banding together in unity. In every corner of the world, you will find passionate, capable leaders who are faithfully trying to navigate their cultural context to bring the hope of the Gospel to their people. 

When we discount their ability. 

When we think that we are somehow better and they are lesser, we delve into a form of racism. 

We may have resources they could use, but those resources are disposable, they don’t make us superior. Most who have developed friends in other countries would question who is truly better off. Our culture is filled with possessions, but few can match the faith and compassion shown by pastors in some of the poorest places on earth.

So as we go, let us do so on common ground. 

We serve a HUGE God with a diverse family and limitless resource.

Do we really believe “He who is faithful to do abundantly more,” would reserve all the blessing for one culture?

Let us humbly serve in every culture, expecting to be lead by giants of the faith.


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