SAIACS Mission Conference, 26-28 Oct, 2007 was an eye-opener as different scholars and missioners contributed to our theme: Mission: Amidst Affluence & Affliction. In the key note address, I articulated some of our key concerns:
India no longer is referred to as a Third World nation with third-class facilities. As the world’s IT “back office,” India is now an economic threat to the West. Indians, particularly in urban centers, have become affluent, having the means to afford a comfortable, consumerist lifestyle. We have fairly wealthy, highly-educated, and sociopolitically influential Indians, Christian and non-Christian, who are open to the Gospel and missions.
The enigma in Indian missions is that, concurrently, the majority remains rural (especially in their thinking) and the afflicted–the suffering poor, downtrodden, and persecuted–are all around us. Such a state of affairs raises several bewildering questions, issues, and even promises for Christian Mission, which today, I believe, is from “everywhere to everywhere.”
Is there a holistic gospel to the rich as much as there is for the poor? And what exactly would each offer? What should be our starting point or priority–win the winnable needy or the well-to-do movers and shakers? Must we strategically mentor a few leaders for exponential evangelism, or just use whatever method we can to reach the masses? Who are those receptive Indians and what would costly discipleship look like to anyone who decides to follow Jesus?
The above questions are not intended to drive a wedge between the have’s and the have-not’s or naively propose some golden mean, for I am inclined to think the truth may lie at both ends. What is undeniable is that postmodern phenomena like globalization, Christian norminalism, religious fundamentalisms, and televangelists’ health and wealth messages only compound the problem, making these missional issues further critical to our discussion. What do you think?