Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 11, 2002
Recognize God's footprints
Missionaries must appreciate Jesus is Asian and a Jew
By RENATO GANDIA
"When I go to China as a missionary, I am not walking on pagan land."
- Prof. Peter Phan
Jesus said it himself - that he is the truth, the way and the life. But at the same time "Jesus recognized the truth and grace outside where he was doing ministry," he said.
Jesus provided ministry to people who were not part of God's covenant to Israel, for example, the Syro-Phoenician woman, the Roman centurion and the Samaritan woman.
Christians have to be guided by three principles - God's will to save all, the supernatural existential, which means that God has given himself totally to the world, and the judgment of the nations stated in Matthew 25:31-46.
"When I go to mission, I recognize that God has been there before I come," stated Phan. "For example, when I go to China as a missionary, I am not walking on pagan land.
"We have to see and recognize the footprints of God and then follow them and when people recognize the same footprints, that's the time to name them."
One must assume the attitude of a guest, coming to somebody else's home. As a missionary who came with some presents, it is crucial to recognize that the host has also a lot to offer, said Phan.
"Before you preach the Gospel, find first the message of the Gospel that is already present there."
For missions to be truly successful in Asia, missionaries have to enter into four dialogues - dialogue of life, of action, of religious experience and of theological exchange.
"In Asia, we don't trust words, we trust relationship: that's why dialogue of life is very important and there is no more powerful dialogue than to worship together."
Christianity does not have a foothold in Asia because Jesus was presented as a Western God, "a colonial Christ," who dominates and conquers. "So the hope for conversion became dim. Unfortunately, division among Christians is the worst obstacle of missions," Phan said.
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