Often in vain I tried to encourage recently arrived missionaries, not only from parachurch groups but from denominational agencies as well, to spend time getting to know Hungarian Christians and their churches before deciding for them what they needed. So many of the strategies and programs designed in North America and other Western countries just do not meet the greatest spiritual needs of the people in Central and Eastern Europe. Mission personnel must first be accepted and trusted by the nationals with whom they serve before they earn the right to help them grow indigenous churches. There are no shortcuts. Mission personnel must be willing to pay the price of cultural adaptation and acceptance before becoming legitimate change agents. Planting and developing churches can be done by missionaries with the Lord's guidance, but it is done most effectively by those willing to plant their lives and learn the language, the culture, and the way witness, evangelism, and discipleship are done in the context of the host society. Too many want to work "in parallel with" (another way of saying "we'll do our thing and you do yours"), but not "in partnership with" the historic Hungarian churches. And that, in my opinion, is a serious missiological error and a great tragedy we are seeing in many countries today. So I would like to thank Dr. Kool for her article. I can only hope that mission agency leadership and personnel will take note of her concerns and advocate and practice a mission strategy based on an incarnational approach to doing mission.
O. Errol Simmons, D.Min., Th.D.
Former president of the International Baptist Lay Academy, Budapest, Hungary. He now resides in Hattiesburg, MS.
I have been an East-West Church & Ministry Report subscriber for the last five years or so. It's an excellent periodical, indispensable for cutting edge ministry in this region of the world. I am also an administrator and faculty member of the Church Ministries Institute in Odessa. We have an upcoming board meeting for which I would like to ask permission to reprint several articles from the latest edition related to theological education. I found these articles to be very helpful in crystallizing some of the major issues in theological education here and would really like to be able to dialogue with other board members about them, after they have had an opportunity to read them.
Church Ministries Institute
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© 2001 East-West Church and Ministry Report