Did you know that many foreign countries have begun to send missionaries to Europe and the United States? This is due, in part, to some of the same religious shifts documented in my July 10 blog post sparked by the Pew Forum study released earlier this year. Additionally, Anchorage Daily News Columnist Julia O’Malley, in her recent front page article, Believe it or not, Alaska’s one of nation’s least religious states , uncovered another underlying reason from the same Pew Forum study – that Alaska’s church attendance is among the lowest in the U.S.
In his recent groundbreaking book, God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis, Philip Jenkins observes “In terms of deliberate missionary work, Great Britain today plays host to some 1500 missionaries from 50 nations. Many come from African countries, and these are shocked at the spiritual desert they encounter in this ‘green and pagan land’.” Author Jenkins further notes Mizo people from India, recipients of 19th century missionary endeavors from Welsh Presbyterians, have returned the favor sending missionaries back to Wales to reconvert it. They remarked that “Wales suffered from a perceived lack of relevance of Christianity to lives based on materialism.”
Kenyan Churchman Considers U.S. Huge Mission Field
A recent Christian Post Reporter article, American Takes on Humility in Changing Global Mission Landscape noted “More believers in the 2/3 world realize that the church in the West is on the decline and the majority of Christians are now found in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.” A further ominous tone was sounded by “Oscar Muriu, Senior Pastor of Nairobi Chapel in Kenya…[who] named America the third largest mission field and the third largest pagan country in the world.”
Finally, Christianity Today reported in 2001 the extraordinary ordination of four missionary bishops to the United States by Anglican archbishops from Africa and Asia thus forming the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA). Bishop Murphy of AMIA, quoted by Religion Today, said ”We [America] have become the mission field. In a bold reversal of the missionary actions of the last 500 years, the churches in Africa and Asia have undertaken a labor of love and courage to renew and revitalize the Anglican faith in America.”
Is the Last Frontier a New Frontier for Missions?
Its summer and we’re used to seeing “missionaries” here Alaska, primarily pensioners and vacationers sprucing up, painting, and otherwise assisting local and bush churches. From what I’m learning about the new missionaries from other countries, Alaska, from its dismal ranking in church attendance, cannot help being in their sights. They will not be our “summer missionaries” but possibly missionaries from the Global South who have left pantheistic religions, where god is in everything, to affiliate with the one God. We cannot blame a lack of church attendance and daily prayer, in the last frontier, with Alaskan’s affinity for the great outdoors. Christianity is a different kind of relationship with a unique inward and outward emphasis.