Friday, August 6, 2010


I recently finished reading Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan. Yohannan is an Indian man who now serves his people from America by raising money and prayer support for national missionaries throughout Asia. Yohannan started the agency "Gospel For Asia" which publishes the missions magazine Send.

Gospel For Asia primarily spreads the gospel through Asia by training and supporting local Christians to be missionaries to their own people and to other people groups within their reach. Yohannan seems to have written this book primarily to raise additional funds for the work. In fact, the book was sent to me for free. He provides compelling reasons why this ministry is worthwhile and effective. He points out that Asians are more likely to give a hearing to the gospel if it is shared by someone from their culture. He shows that the cost of a national missionary is vastly less than the cost of a foreigner travelling to a new location, learning language and culture, and travelling back. In fact, for the price of supporting one foreign missionary, Yohannan claims that about forty nationals can be supported. Yohannan also claims that the nationals are reaping a huge harvest of souls and starting churches with a far greater effectiveness than foreign missionaries.

While this author convinced me for the most part of the reasonableness of his thesis, I do still have a few concerns. The tone of the book is often accusatory of Western Christianity for living like people in the West. Yohannan wants us to give a lot of money to help Asians reach other Asians through Asian methods. He doesn't seem to recognize that the church in the West must also use culturally accepted methods in order to reach the people closest to them. Yohannan seems to try to make us feel guilty for enjoying food at our fellowship dinners. He is also very critical of the money spent on church buildings in the West when that same money could have purchased more church buildings in Asia. The fact of the matter is, life and building materials simply cost more here. In my community the church building itself can be a very real hindrance to people coming to church; therefore, it makes sense to us to spend a reasonable amount of money in order to serve the people of our community.

The other disagreement I had with this book was that Yohannan seems to blame each Western Christian for every Asian who dies without Christ. My understanding of the Bible is that each person is responsible to God for his own sin. Of course it is our joy and duty as believers to share the wonderful good news of God's grace through Christ with the world. But the fact that certain parts of the world have not been reached as effectively as we would like is not necessarily an indictment of Christians from other cultures. I find that this accusation lacks theological precision.

Despite these critiques, I still found the message of this book to be compelling. I know that I would appreciate an infusion of cash in our church. I can make the case that outside money would greatly aid our effectiveness. So it doesn't take any imagination to prove to me that an infusion of cash into the ministry of the gospel in Asia could also be highly useful. If it is true that God's money can be better used by supporting national workers, then we should give careful attention to this program.


  1. I have a friend who just came back from a missions trip to Nicaraqua. I was amazed at the pictures. It appeared to me that this church in rural South America which serves people who have very little (they gave out flip flops to the people while she was there) have a better church building than Cottrell does. Where did that money come from? I'm happy for them but I want the same for Cottrell. I suppose we need to focus on using what we have to be best we can to serve God's people, and when it is no longer adequate God will provide more. Pat D

  2. One other problem (besides those you've already mentioned Dave) that I had with the book was the complete failure to recognize the calling of the Lord. He never mentions the fact that the Lord does indeed call people from the West to work among those in the poorer countries of the world. Related to this is the need for the church to be global. There is the failure to recognize the need for the Church to work together from whatever country or economic background we come. I agree with him that it seems to work better when local people reach their neighbors (and it makes economic sense), but I'd rather not see us sending all our missions monies to others to do the work (what can be said for their need to support themselves as we do...i.e. "self-supporting" ...not that we cannot help at all). I would rather see folks from all over working together for the glory of the Lord...and rather not see this as "what is the dollar value". If we only send money to others to do this needful work then it won't be long before the already lacking global missions vision will be diminished even more.