Hero Martyr or 'Religious Colonialist'?


Recently one of our missionary brothers, John Allen Chau, was killed while taking the gospel to the Sentilenese people. This evening I watched a video journalism piece labeling his work 'religious colonialism'. A brief scroll through some of the comments on the post revealed much of the heart of society on the topic--it wasn't pretty. 
 
I think it's important for Jesus-followers to consider how we might discuss the idea of christian missions with our friends who don't come from a christian worldview. Below are a few of my thoughts; I hope they help you navigate conversations on the topic:
 

1.  Be quick to recognize that many unloving and even evil things have been done in the name of religion and the name of Christ. Throughout history, unspeakable atrocities have been done by people who claimed the name 'christian'. Ask your friend if they think those people were truly following the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus when they committed those atrocities. *This can help people to separate the evil of humanity from the goodness of Jesus (which, by the way, highlights the beauty of the true gospel) thus removing a stumbling block to the gospel.

2.  Ask your friend if they would take a minute to try to think about the idea of missions from the perspective of a Jesus-follower <<Followers of Jesus believe that humanity is stuck in the problem of sin; and that, in love, God has made a way for us to be restored to His original design. But in order for people to enter into the restoration Jesus offers, they must first turn from leading their own lives and trust in Christ. In order to trust what Christ has done, they must hear the good news about what Christ has done--that comes by Jesus-followers going into all the world and sharing with others and doing the works that reflect Jesus' kingdom.>> Then ask your friend, "From the christian worldview, is it loving to go into the world to share Jesus with others or is it hateful?" *I have found the presuppositional approach always helps people understand each other better; and when that happens, dialogue is always more productive and less adversarial (on both sides). Also, this gives you a great opportunity to rehearse the gospel to your friend! 

3.  Ask your friend about their own personal experience with christian missions. Do they have any experience (good/bad/otherwise) with people who have shared Jesus' message with them? Or with their family members? Listen to their story on the topic. You might find that they have real personal pain related to faith, christianity and evangelism. If that’s the case, be quick to love them and if necessary, grieve with them. This could be an opportunity for compassion and mercy to 'preach' your best message!

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