Dluxe's World

Monday, May 15

Wrap-up: Revolution in World Missions (Yohannon)

One of the nice things about my reading list is that I assembled it from the 'favorites' lists of several great people (in particular, the T4G guys, thanks to a thread on their blog). As a result, I suppose I'll have only good things to say about most of the books I read. This book, added to the list through a more 'organic' process, was an awesome surprise!

Sometime this past winter, I noticed Revolution in World Missions sitting on our kitchen table. I asked Eva how it came into our possession and discovered that it just appeared in the mail. If I recall correctly, it came as a gift from Samaritan's Purse.

I set the book aside and determined to take a peek at it later. Over the next couple months, I predictably noticed the little paperback gracing the shelves and tables of several other families from VBC.

With my reading program in full swing, I decided it was time to crack the cover on this book. It proved to be a quick, fascinating, and convicting read.

KP Yohannan was born and raised in India. He came to Christ and worked with several native evangelistic teams before coming to the west for schooling. While in the US, KP developed a vision for increasing the mobilization of native missionaries using the vast support 'power' of the west. For an American to go to do missions work in India, $30,000+ of annual support might have to be raised. On the other hand, a native (Indian) evangelist could be equipped and easily supported for less than a third of that amount.

In addition to the increased impact 'per dollar' that native missions offer, it also removes the various cultural barriers that often hinder the spread of the Gospel. The native has no language that must be learned, no cultural norms to assimilate, and benefits from an immediate credibility with the target peoples. In an era where 'white' westerners are increasingly distrusted or barred from entry to many nations, native missionaries seem to be the wave of the future (and a superior tool, at that).

There are a couple things, in particular, that really got into my head through reading this book.
  1. A deep sense of our overwhelming affluence. Most people in the United States live a life of complete excess... Think about it: The amount of calories we get from a single, frivilous, after-church meal at Chili's likely represents a weekly amount of food for people in many parts of the world - if not more! This sense of 'being rich' rightly comes anytime you seriously dwell on missions.
  2. As an extension of that, I struck again by the futility of the 'American Dream'. We scurry and run, always going but never arriving. Always imagining that the next car, the next house, the next something will define/complete our 'happiness'. I'll come back to this in a second...
  3. I find it interesting how foreign missions seem to often be more deeply connected to the working of the Holy Spirit 'with power'. As someone who has stopped to consider charismaticism and cessationism (yes, I'm a nerd), I find the many accounts of miraculous happenings in the mission field interesting. Why do we, in the west, not see similar manifestations (healings, deliverances from demons, etc) in our churches? Is it that there is some special dispensation, a la the Book of Acts, for those ministering in largely pagan contexts? Are these signs actually something nefarious - the presence of unholy influences on Christianity? Or, as I suspect, are we westerners simply less reliant upon the leading and power the Spirit in our lives? I suspect our comfort - in #1 and #2 above - has made us largely apathetic.
I was talking to my mother on the phone last night regarding the sale of our house. My mother was sad that we had to let go of our current home to 'downsize' into something more affordable. In the past two years, I've been moving to the point that I don't feel that bad about it. Moreover, the extent to which I do feel bad is actually, in my opinion, a sign that I have something to work on.

We have friends in the missions field in Kijabe, Kenya. The money I make per year, after taxes, is equal to roughly 100 times the income of a Kenyan family. Our home represents more walled-in space than several families occupy in Haiti, where our church supports several mission efforts. Is losing a yard and some privacy really that big of a deal?

I increasingly recognize how as a young man I never really valued the right things. Around the time our son was born, I started to go through a period of change. What is really important to me? Answer: My God and my family. If that's really true, am I living in a way that would reflect that? If my hope is outside of this world, does my lifestyle reflect that or am I simply moving in the current of a world gone wrong?

I don't want to live a life that is comfortable but eternally insiginificant. I don't want to live so I can get old and become increasingly useless. I don't want to stand before God one day and point to a earthly mansion as the symbol of my life's work.

I want to live a life that sacrifices much to love much. I want to live a life that displays a hope in what's coming, not what's here. I want to live a live that cries out that "to live is Christ, and to die is gain". I want a crown for my King's glory, not a nice lawn for my own.

Well, all this is only loosely tied to KP Yohannon's book. So, I'll try to bring us back up the rabbit hole... Pray for those preaching the gospel, both here and abroad - though especially for those being persecuted. If you feel you have only a little to offer financially, consider giving that to a native mission support agency like Yohannon's Gospel for Asia where your pocket change will go far to change lives.

I'd urge you to read this book... And I'll be glad to loan you my copy if you'll take the $5.95 you save and put it to good use.



  • I read roughly 1/3 of the book last night, and now I am not sure it came from Samaritan's Purse. (I wonder if it was on the table when the team from NYC was at church.) From what I've read so far, Yohannon may not be in agreement with SP enough for them to send out his book.

    By Blogger Eva, at 9:45 AM, May 15, 2006  

  • You know, you're prolly right... Though we've had that book longer than since March, right? Well, maybe not.

    At any rate, the 'substance' of the review stands! ;-)

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 9:49 AM, May 15, 2006  

  • Howdy guys...the book came from the homeschool panel discussion grab-bag. The book has been kicking around for awhile now. At least KP Y. has been kicking around for awhile!

    The thesis of his book is not without some significant controversy in missions circles. Does KP's premise excuse Westerners from going abroad, as if cost-benefit is the only strategic consideration? What about adequate supervision of the (crassly put!) "rent-a national"; there is report of much abuse of western monies paying for idleness. Also, native ministers are often "tainted" by western money in the eyes of their countrymen...the same people already assume that the western missionaries are fabulously wealthy and therefore don't care a whit about where the money comes from.

    On the other hand, are we in the west still open to charges of paternalism (or even worse...colonialism) in our missions and church-planting efforts? My ramblings can go on and on.

    Thanks for taking the charge from KP to examine yourself!

    By Blogger coramdeo, at 10:55 AM, May 15, 2006  

  • Coramdeo,

    Thanks for the correction on the 'source' of the book! One mystery solved.

    The thesis of his book is not without some significant controversy in missions circles. Does KP's premise excuse Westerners from going abroad, as if cost-benefit is the only strategic consideration?

    Did you read the new copy or a previous edition? I only ask because that question seems to be dealt with clearly (though certainly not at length) in the copy I read. KP specifically says that Westerners are certainly not 'excluded' from foreign missions. He contends, however, that there is a sense that we have a colonialist notion that we are the only people who can do missions 'right'.

    For me, though I didn't go into this, the crux of the issue is one of accountability. As you note, are we sending cash to people who are being idle? Certainly, the same issue could surround western missionaries who raise support, go out in the field, and accomplish little. I think the difference is that we get to know them.

    Take the Shannons, for example. We met them, talked to them, prayed with them, etc. We know the call of God on their life and trust that call and their integrity to keep them accountable for action. In the case of proxying support to missionaries through an agency (like GFY), we don't have that same connection.

    Truth is, I didn't do a very good job of reviewing the book. I guess it really only served as a lauchpad for my rambling of the day. That said, I think I can see (in a way I hadn't before) the valuable role that native missionaries can play in reaching the 'hard places'.

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 11:05 AM, May 15, 2006  

  • nonsequitor:
    I was just thinking how fun it would be if KP named a son after our son. Gannon Yohannon. Not a very deep, missions-minded comment, but hey, I just gotta be me. Admit it; you love me for it!

    By Blogger Eva, at 8:43 PM, May 15, 2006  

  • I read this book after my recent trip to Nicaragua. It was recommended by someone on the trip who had misgivings about short-term missions trips due to what the book says. However, when I read the book I did not get the impression that K.P. was against short term missions or all missions where westerners go overseas. Rather, I found the book refreshing and hopeful in other ways.

    I have since purchased a number of other of K.P.'s books off of the Gospel for Asia website. His Road to Reality really addresses our affluence and how Christians live in this country. I would recommend that book as well. In fact, the only thing that "bothers" me about K.P. is his support of contemplative prayer; I was told he supported it. But his message on living simply and living solely to further God's Kingdom really rings true.

    I have an unwritten blog post still in draft form about K.P. that will someday make it on the blog, but it's nice to see your book review here.

    By Blogger Julie, at 11:44 AM, May 16, 2006  

  • Thanks for the comment, Julie.

    His Road to Reality really addresses our affluence and how Christians live in this country. I would recommend that book as well.

    I was looking at the 'write-up' for that in the back of RiWM. Looks like it might have to go on the list.

    ...the only thing that "bothers" me about K.P. is his support of contemplative prayer...

    I just poked around for a couple seconds on the web and didn't find his name as an endorser for any of the 'big name' videos or books out there promoting contemplative prayer. Interesting. Have to keep my eyes open! Thanks for the tip.

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 12:20 PM, May 16, 2006  

  • I hope whoever told me that about Yohannon and contemplative prayer was mistaken - I am not able to find anywhere that makes that connection yet, either. If you do find something, please let me know.

    Generally speaking, I admire Yohannon's directness and clarity in expressing what it is to follow Christ. I highly recommend his other books.

    By Blogger Julie, at 5:17 PM, May 16, 2006  

  • A rep from GFA spoke at our church last year. You can read about it and hear the message, too, on my blog here.

    By Anonymous Brendt, at 1:03 AM, May 20, 2006  

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