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Note: UM Board Member Rev. Dr. Hunter Farrell introduced me to Harvey Kwiyani earlier this spring. He is a mission educator for the Church Missionary Society in London, and has a very positive, postcolonial, and engaging understanding of mission.

Can Black Missionaries Serve in a White World?

And There Is No Such Thing As "Reverse Mission" by Harvey Kwiyani

Every week, Harvey Kwiyani shares his thoughts in his newsletter, “Global Witness, Globally Reimagined” where he dreams about his mission in a postcolonial world. This appeared in his April 27, 2023, post.

There is a myth about the phenomenon called “reverse mission” that I find perplexing. ¹ We talk about “Reverse Mission” with great enthusiasm while we know that, to a great extent, Africans are planting and growing African churches in the West and that their churches are shaped by the migration of Africans to the West, with many of them being quite tribal in nature. Babatunde Adedibu calls their churches migrant sanctuaries. While their presence strengthens Christianity and their overnight prayers keep a lot of evil at bay in many Western cities—and all this is greatly appreciated—very few of them are able to minister cross-culturally, not even among fellow Africans of other nationalities apart from their own. Naturally, they use the language of mission; “God has sent us here. We are God’s missionaries in the West today.” Yet, there is very little cross-cultural mission happening. Of course, this does not diminish the significance of their presence. Instead, it highlights the need to rethink the mission (and the labels that we attach to it), reimagine mission training and the resources we use for this, and prioritise intercultural mutuality and unity in our mission theology and praxis. It also calls us to realise the dynamics of race in mission—can Africans really evangelise Europeans? Part of the challenge facing migrant congregations is the reality that Westerners do not know what to do with them. Walter Hollenweger was right when he said, “British Christians prayed for revival. When it came they did not recognise it because it was black.”² This is just as true today as it was when it was published more than 30 years ago. The racial undertones are a lot clearer today than they were in 1992 though. As we explore what mission will look like in the 21st century, we must, I believe, wrestle with the question of how world Christians will help re-evangelise Europe. How many Western mission agencies and churches enable non-Western Christians to be evangelists in the West? Is this even possible?

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