“What we need are co-workers!”

“I have a confession to make, sisters and brothers.” We had just finished our workshops on “Holistic Mission” at the annual gathering of National Baptist churches in Espírito Santo state, when the one of the leaders asked for the floor. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, since up to this point the feedback had been very positive.

“As you all know,” this leader continued, “our Convention is called ‘National’ because from the beginning we wanted to grow through our own resources without the interference of foreigners. Last year when our national leaders invited Ann and Bruce to lead two national ministries in leadership development and in holistic mission, I opposed the plan for this very reason. I asked why, after all these years, did we need foreign missionaries to do this work. But after participating in their training this week, I confess to you that I asked the wrong question. The point is not whether we need foreign missionaries, the point is that we need co-workers for God’s kingdom wherever they come from. Thank you, Ann and Bruce, for being God’s servants among us and equipping our churches to reach out to their communities in Jesus’ name.”

Our Christian brother was right: triumphalism and superiority complexes have no place in global Christian mission. What we need are co-laborers - wherever they come from! Workers called and prepared by God to strengthen the worldwide Body of Christ (the church) so it can cooperate in God’s mission here, there and everywhere. National borders and geographical distance are no longer the barriers they once were. What matters now are things like partnership, a servant attitude, cooperation, flexibility, creativity, freedom, accountability, a focus on people and a holistic approach to ministry.

We are humbled by this leader’s words, and at the same time convicted. How about you? Your town, your country, especially our world needs fewer “foreigners” and more “co-workers.” Will you respond to the call to be one of them?