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Missionaries abroad ‘should be vulnerable’

27 September 2019

Alliance for Vulnerable Mission (AVM) conference to be held in December

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“SHOULD the majority world be the target of patronage from rich missionaries?”

This question will be asked at the next Alliance for Vulnerable Mission (AVM) conference, which is to be held in at All Nations Christian College, Hertfordshire, in December.

The AVM was established in 2007. It argues that Western missionaries who work in foreign countries must use the local language and resources rather than funding brought in from overseas, to empower the indigenous population.

The organisers state: “True empowerment of local people requires getting alongside them. This necessitates vulnerability to their position and context. Such vulnerability can best be achieved if one shares the gospel using indigenous languages and utilising local resources.”

The chair of AVM, Dr Jim Harries, who has been a missionary in East Africa since 1988, said: “Use of European languages perpetuates Western domination around the world. This tends to generate corruption: it contributes to the prosperity gospel and perpetuates missionary ignorance.”

The AVM way enabled “eye-level engagement” between missionaries and the local people and allowed mission to be conducted outside Western contexts, languages, theology, and culture, he said.

“The AVM does not have mission projects that it manages. Instead, it encourages some missionaries to operate in a ‘vulnerable way’. Hence a lot of my ministry in East Africa uses indigenous languages, and we do not make significant financial contributions to people we work with.”

Nick Henwood, who attended the previous AVM conference, held in 2017, said: “Over two days, we explored key facets of doing mission the vulnerable way, especially through the use of indigenous languages, and local resources. This approach contrasts with much Western Christian mission and development work which relies on world languages and money.

“All too often, Western practitioners stay in control, while in-country nationals get a share of the money and power, and so unhealthy dependence continues. Vulnerable Mission practitioners do not trumpet their approaches, but, rather, in unglamorous roles, they seek to present Jesus to others in their language without the trappings of foreign aid.”

The Alliance for Vulnerable Mission conference — “Missionaries: Aliens, Providers, or Fellow Travellers?” — will be held on 8-11 December. There are 80 places. For early-bird tickets, visit: allnations.ac.uk/events/missionaries-aliens-providers-or-fellow-travellers.

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