John Perkins suggests that three types of people are needed in order to see real transformation of an urban neighborhood:
The “relocators” are those people who were not born in the neighborhood, but who move into the area to tie their well-being to that of their neighbors.
The “returners” were born and raised in the community and then left for a better life. They are no longer trapped by the poverty of their neighborhood, yet they choose to return and live in the community they once tried to escape.
The “remainers” are the ones who could have fled the problems of the neighborhood, but who have chosen to stay and be part of the solution to the problems surrounding them.
Although Perkins was talking about inner-city USA, this is a helpful framework within which to think about international missions. Over the last few years, however, as the Church has gained a deeper appreciation for the contribution the poor can make in reaching their own people and rebuilding their own communities as “remainers,” I have observed the Church losing confidence in what we as westerners might have to offer as long-term international “relocators” among the poor.
The roots of this insecurity are complex. Partly it is a natural reaction against wrong emphases in the past. Yet somehow we must avoid the theological equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. So I want to briefly survey four reasons why we might have lost some of our confidence in long-term, cross-cultural missions. Read more ...