George Forbes 2010Missionary statesman Dr George Forbes comments on the theme ‘Western Missions or Third World Missions?’

The 21st century has already seen major changes in the role of missionaries. These changes include…

  • The shift from the ‘west to the rest’
  • The major increase in short-term teams and
  • The changing role of missionaries.

Even the name missionary has changed to new terms such as…

  • Field workers
  • Specialists
  • A range of other identities.

The Holy Spirit at work
Mission agencies have moved to adopt more contemporary names, without using the traditional word ‘mission.’

At the same time the number of missions and missionaries is increasing dynamically. The interesting thing is that a great majority of them were birthed in the non-western world, in what were once called ‘developing nations.’

It is estimated that three out of four new missionaries come from this ‘rest of the world.’ This is significant and reasonable to give thanks to God, because the sowing of the past is bearing good fruit in the present. Countries and people groups that were recipients of the gospel are now senders of the gospel, and for this to God be all the glory.

This means big changes for western missions and their personnel. Changes of…

  • Responsibility
  • Control
  • Structure
  • Method
  • As well as changes economically and organisationally.

All these changes call for understanding, new partnerships and mutual respect. It is not an either or, because the Holy Spirit is leading us all into a new era of mission to the nations.

Significant changes
The amazing rise of strong indigenous churches in developing countries means significant changes in leadership of missionary activity. More and more missionaries are working under the leadership of indigenous churches or in cooperation with them.

Missionaries are no longer pioneers who work independently. They must learn new skills and roles as they increasingly work with the leaders of church movements in rapidly growing spiritual awakenings.

Half the global mission movement now comes from the new sending countries of the global South – sending even to Australia! These include Brazil, South Korea, Philippines and many other countries that themselves were once… mission fields.

The reality is that Jesus’ harvest cry of Matthew 9:36-38 (Mge), ‘When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”’ is being fulfilled by dedicated followers from around the world!

George F-icon
Dr George Forbes is internationally recognised as a missionary statesman with a heart for the nations’ lost. With a wealth of missionary knowledge and a unique ability to communicate the global picture, he is widely known as the ‘storyteller.’ Link:

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