A Historian’s Hunches: Eight Future Trends in Mission, #3

A Historian’s Hunches: Eight Future Trends in Mission, #3 February 1, 2016
This is the fourth installment of a ten part series by Dr. Scott Sunquist on what trends in missiology we can expect in the coming years.

Trend #3: Preemptive Peacemakers
Scott W. Sunquist

Many western Christians now ask, “Is there a place for the western Christian missionary anymore? We don’t seem to be wanted or needed.” Affirming that the Great Commission is a call to all Christians to the end of time and to the ends of the earth we must say “Yes, but….” There is a place for the western missionary, but as we know it is much more in the roll of team player and specialized servant. Western missionaries will no longer have the protection of western governments, empires or even finances. Places where western missionaries will go will be difficult places with less security and comfort than in the past. Few are the places in the world where governments support, protect, or even tolerate missionaries.

Reconcilation/Hands Across the Divide. Sculpture by Maurice Harron. Photo copyright by Zoocreative, reused with permission.
Reconcilation/Hands Across the Divide. Sculpture by Maurice Harron. Photo copyright by Zoocreative, reused with permission.

Specifically, one missiological area that needs to be explored in such a violent and hostile world where there is so little trust in the western missionary, is the concept of missionary as “pre-emptive peacemaker.” Christians need to place themselves in difficult areas where ministries of mercy, compassion, and peacemaking are needed. Places of potential violence are where many of the unreached and unloved people of the world live. Because of the great sacrifice required and the higher level of risk, preemptive peacemakers may need to develop non-Catholic religious orders taking vows of poverty and celibacy. Most of these regions of high risk require single persons without the responsibility to spouse and children. It may be time for more Protestant religious orders.

Displaced people are in need of the love of Christ and the creative and loving presence of other Christians. Whether the place of tension, violence, and displacement involves Muslims, Hindus or secularists, it is a place that should not be avoided by Christians, but embraced as a place needing the Prince of Peace. In years to come, as we have seen many times in the past, local people will come to notice that their own people or their own neighbors persecuted them, but Christians did not abandon them.  We hope this will be the future claim about Christians. Such intentional missionary presence we can call preemptive peacemaking.

Dr. Scott W. Sunquist is the dean of the School of Intercultural Studies and professor of World Christianity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

This blog post was taken from The State of Missiology Today by Charles E. Van Engen. Copyright (c) 2016 by Charles E. Van Engen. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426.www.ivpress.comPre-order the full book here (expected October 2016).

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