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Some readers of AVM updates, may take us as a load of boffs with our head in the clouds discussing obscure theoretical issues. On the contrary. Almost every time I move amongst African people here in Western Kenya (every day), I become motivated to put more effort into explaining to Westerners some of the hurt they are creating in African communities. Kenyan people are crying - but the hand that hurts them also feeds them! Sometimes I feel like shouting to donors at the top of my voice: 'STOP IT!'

'Alternative Mission'?

A response to my request for a missiologist to write an article for us recently, was that it was hard for her to find time to write for 'alternative mission'. Wow! 'Are we 'alternative mission' I thought? In a sense of course yes. But this also indicates that this alliance has a LOT of work to do. Our aim is not to be in the mainstream in the US scene, but to enable Americans (and others) to operate outside of the West. When one does what is 'normal mission' in Africa (and presumably elsewhere in the world), then one can appear to be 'alternative' in the West. Because AVM encourages missionaries from the West to be like 'normal' people elsewhere by putting aside Western ministry 'privileges' (money and language) - we're mainstream!


1/ Western interventions in Africa rely heavily on providence for their success in a way that is totally unacceptable 'back home', where feedback mechanisms and checks and balances abound. Is this dual-standard acceptable? Its origin, according to this article by Jim Harries, lies in the misguided extension of Biblical models of evangelism to incorporate 'development intervention'. Jim argues that these two are qualitatively different, and that what may work for the Gospel may not work for 'development' and 'aid'. Published in Evangelical Review of Theology, Volume 32, No. 2, April 2008, 156-165.

Providence and Power Structures

2. Western missionaries used to cooperate with one another on issues regarding mission to Africa. Finding this a paternalistic model, some churches have recently preferred direct church-to-church inter-continental links. This brings local Western churches into the frontline of mission adventure! But, Jim Harries points out, this partnership model has many problems. Westerners cannot afford not to cooperate amongst themselves. The issues that have driven people to 'partnership' would be better resolved through 'vulnerable mission'.

The Vulneraable Mission article.

3. Some fascinating research done by Yanowich shows that paying people to do what they ought to do of their own accord can result in that thing being done less well! Jim's interpretation: subsidy of churches in Africa, can kill the churches!

The Yanowich article.

4. To find masses of contemporary insights into mission focused in a single magazine, the content of which is regularly on the web, a visit to this site is a must!

The link to the site.

5. Last month I gave a mega-long url for an article on dialogue (published in Exchange, Brill). Here is a simpler one:

The article.

For details of conferences in early 2009 see: Vulnerable Mission.