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The African American and Their Strategic Witness

Apr. 29, 2016By: David Crabb

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about African Americans and Missions with Timothy Byrd, a missionary with Campus Outreach in Johannesburg, South Africa. Our conversation will be posted in five parts.

Part 1: Why don’t we see many African American missionaries?                                                    Part 2: Challenges African American Missionaries Face                                                                Part 3: African American Church's Mission To Their Communities But Not the World                  Part 4: Practical Ways to Encourage More African American missionaries

David Crabb: African Americans have a unique story to tell. How can that be a strategic tool for the sake of the Gospel? 

Timothy Byrd: God is absolutely sovereign–he created all things and in him all things holdslave-getty together. What if slavery in America existed so that God might be glorified in raising up the African American church? I heard Dr. Ellis once say, “The African American church is in existence not because of slavery but in spite of slavery.” I couldn’t agree more.

Despite Christianity being used to initially endorse slavery, slaves were redeemed. Despite the killing, beating and demeaning of African Americans the African American church grew. Despite hatred, racial prejudices, and civil injustices the African American Church survived. Divine intervention through the work of the Holy Spirit is the only way this could happen. Today, the bulk of the world can relate to a history more like the minorities of American than the majorities. This is a history of pain and suffering, while at the same time of hope and faith. Leveraging this history, this story, for the sake of the gospel is a tremendous tool on the cross cultural mission field.

 Today, the bulk of the world can relate to a history more like the minorities of American than the majorities. - Tweet this

The reason Joseph could forgive his own brothers for selling him into slavery was because of his experience of God giving him perspective. So when he says, “what you have meant for my bad, God has meant for good the saving of many souls,” his understanding of the sovereignity of God is put on display. The beauty of the gospel allows us to endure suffering, embrace others, believe in God’s sovereignty, and proclaim the good news that Jesus saves.

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Practical Ways to Encourage More African American Missionaries

Apr. 28, 2016By: David Crabb

Missions-Sunda51c7c79568

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about African Americans and Missions with Timothy Byrd, a missionary with Campus Outreach in Johannesburg, South Africa. Our conversation will be posted in five parts.

Part 1: Why don’t we see many African American missionaries?                                                    Part 2: Challenges African American Missionaries Face                                                                Part 3: African American Church's Mission To Their Communities But Not the World

David CrabbWhat practical ways can churches consciously encourage more African American missionaries?  

Timothy Byrd: Talk about cross cultural missions. Pray about missions. Read up on African

Americans in missions as a church or in small group. Go on short term trips. A short-term trip was how I got to the field.

If someone is passionate about missions in their local churches then pastor, make it happen. To hear someone ask, “can we do mission trips or support missionaries,” should be energizing to pastors and leaders! If not, something else may be wrong. For some churches it might mean going through the proper channels, for others it simply might mean creating some proper channels.

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The African American Church's Mission To Their Communities But Not the World

Apr. 27, 2016By: David Crabb

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about African Americans and Missions with Timothy Byrd, a missionary with Campus Outreach in Johannesburg, South Africa. Our conversation will be posted in five parts.

Part 1: Why don’t we see many African American missionaries?                                                    Part 2: Challenges African American Missionaries Face

David Crabb: You’ve said it appears that for many African-American churches there is great vision for the community but not for the globe. Do you see any signs of that changing? From your perspective, what needs to happen to increase the vision for the globe?

Timothy Byrd: African Americans have always had a persevering character, particularly in theMissions black church. In fact, in my estimation, the black church has historically been the backbone or the prominent advocate for African Americans, so by no means do I want to belittle it. My observation is that most of our mission is local because many black communities have such significant needs, and as believers we are called to speak the gospel into these communities. I would even say the local community is the primary ministry area. However, some black churches have interpreted primary mission field to mean only mission field. This is not a complete or accurate understanding of the Scriptures. 

To answer your question, yes, I do see signs of change! To be clear, foreign missions is happening among African American churches, just not many churches or on a large scale. There are numerous organizations aimed at promoting and encouraging African Americans toward missions, but these efforts are very small and very few people know about them. There are several reformed evangelical African American churches, networks, and organizations who speak to these needs. The Reformed African American Network, Byron Johnson with Vision 9:38Carl Ellis Jr., and The Front Porch are just a few great examples of pastors and leaders making people aware of the black church’s need to get more involved with cross cultural missions. 

What needs to happen to see change? Cross cultural African American missionaries need to avail themselves for the edification of the church. My wife and I never hesitate to speak at predominately African American churches.  Not because we are simply looking for support, but because we hope to cast vision into these churches even if they don’t support us. In our last stateside assignment we realized if we are not engaging African American churches on the topic, then who is?  Also, pastors, elders and lay leaders need to be intentional about creating platforms for missions from their congregations to give, go and send missionaries to the nations. I am pretty sure there are hundreds of African American missionaries sitting in pews all across the US who have a longing in their hearts for the nations and do not know what to do. If the church is taking the great commission seriously then this must change.

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Challenges African American Missionaries Face

Apr. 26, 2016By: David Crabb

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about African Americans and Missions with Timothy Byrd,a missionary with Campus Outreach in Johannesburg, South Africa. Our conversation will be posted in five parts.

Part 1: Why don’t we see many African American missionaries?

David Crabb: What particular challenges do African American missionaries face both pre-field and on the field?

Timothy Byrd: In my personal experience, and in the experience of several of my African American contemporaries, the pre-field challenges are (1) finding long-term financial partners or support, (2) skepticism and (3) opportunities to be a missionary.

For example, many people in my church community loved the idea that I wanted to do crossmoney-sign-300x300 cultural missions, but there were only a few who had a clear category to put me in. These were godly people who loved the Lord yet had never met a missionary who wanted to live in another country just to share the gospel for a lengthy period of time (3 years or more). Therefore, getting people excited was easy. Finding partners and churches to send me was the challenge. I have met very few African American churches that have mission committees or a missionary selection process. This makes it hard for the church to find out about you, encourage you or challenge you regarding your potential calling. 

The second challenge which is skepticism. There are so many scams people try to pull on churches that some churches are very guarded.  Therefore, when someone you know (and especially someone you don’t know) comes with a new or foreign concept, in many black churches it can feel like you must prove over time that you are a legitimate missionary. If a number of churches operate like this, the missionary may waver in hope and give up, or never get enough support to even go overseas.

The last thing that I would mention is the biggest pre-field and on the field challenge for African American missionaries: money! The bottom line is many long-term African American missionaries battle with raising support from African American churches. Love offerings and one time gifts do go a long way, but if missionaries are going to live in a foreign country with their only source of income coming from sending churches and individuals, there has to be significant partnership.  I have had several friends who have full-time support raising jobs in the U.S. who have had to get jobs because they couldn’t pay every day bills.  In some instances “tent-making ministry” is encouraged, but we can’t expect full-time ministry workers working part-time jobs to give the same time and energy as their counterparts who are doing ministry full-time with full support.  When support does not come in for a cross cultural missionary this typically means you go home.  Some requirements for work permits or visas are so restricted to special gifts sets it is nearly impossible to get a job. It is even more complicated when locals may feel like you are taking their jobs. I have heard it said money follows ministry, and I agree. But if the money does not follow soon enough, many agencies (and missionaries!) begin to wonder, “Is this what I should be doing?”

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Why the Missional Church Isn't Enough

Sep. 9, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

About-us-Missional-church-1024x768Jonathan Dodson in his article, Why the Missional Church Isn't Enough writes:

The missional church in the United States is not missional enough. The local focus of mission is shortsighted. If we only make disciples who make disciples in our cities, thousands of unengaged, un-discipled peoples of the earth will not hear the gospel. 

 

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