Recent works have highlighted the fact that in spite the good and noble intentions, much of “foreign aid” including (and perhaps also mainly) those in missions have contributed to worse situations, particularly in the perpetuation of paternalism (for donors) and dependency (for beneficiaries) wherever such relationships occur (Schwartz 2007; Corbett & Fikkert 2009; cf. Everist 1989). In the public square, foreign aid has corrupted governments, and enriched and empowered dictators, too (Easterly 2006; Moyo 2009; Wrong 2009)!
This article focuses on how this sad state of mission and church relationships can be turned into effective partnerships, particularly in advancing the cause of “Christward movements” (CMs) in the 10/40 Window and beyond. I share from my experiences both as receiver and/or partner, mainly as a Filipino mission leader in relation to various non-Filipino missions, as well as a giver, mainly as an ethnic Chinese church leader in Southeast Asia and the president of a global school with extension programs in Southeast Asia, Australia & the USA.
PROBLEM OF MISSION-CHURCH PARTNERSHIPS
Partnerships are formed whenever two or more parties decide to work together in projects that range from micro to mega. It often starts with friendship and networking between people who share a common cause, and in our case, cross-cultural missions and national evangelization. These can eventually develop into formal relationships which usually seek to fulfill specific and time-bound goals for the benefit of the parties involved.
But mission-church partnerships have been problematic for most of mission history. A classic case may be the unintended result of the sacrificial ministry of the three widows of the five missionaries who were martyred by the Waorani Indians in Ecuador in 1955. When the son of the pilot Nate Saint visited in 1995 for the burial of his mother there, he discovered that the Waorani church elders were waiting for American resources to supply their needs, even for the seeds for their farms and the repair of their church facilities. Stephen Saint returned and helped them to set up livelihood training and businesses to enable them to sustain and develop their own lives as a people (Saint 2007).
The former head of India Missions Association (IMA), K. Rajendran has called for “the Missiology of Self-Dignity” as a solution to the dependency that prevails in Indian missions, which I observe to be characteristic of many mission fields. He notes accurately, which is worth quoting in full:
Many Indian and the 2/3rd world missions have somewhat come to a place of self-governance. In terms of self-propagation and self-funding there are many struggles. Propagation and funding are connected to each other in some ways.
Propagation is to do with the methodology used. The methodology of the proclamation is too traditional and too old in many ways. There is also a theological tint to it as the propagation is most often connected to “full-time,” “called,” theological degree holding professionals and “cross-cultural workers.” Thus, anything beyond this boundary, people are not able to think. The paradigm of global people at our footsteps and the Gospel to all people through the missional Christians does not yet make sense to the many church going Christians.
The other theological tint is that the gospel is (sic) only to the poor. Because of this tint, we do not have competent people who will reach out to all peoples other than the poor and the down-trodden. As many Christians come from the poor or illiterate background, they tend to reach the same. Therefore the rich and the influential do not come to Christ. Even if they come to Christ they are only seen as the “senders” by contributing funds to the “full-time” workers to the “unreached” places. Very seldom they are asked to be the missionaries among their own class. Thus the church missed out the idea of every follower of Christ being a missionary – missional Christians.
Thus, whenever there is a need for funding the churches do not seem to have the source as many in the church are from the poor. Thus all appeal is to reach the poor and the marginalized. In the longer run, the Indian Christian workers continue to appeal for funds from the Western or the economically developed nations. Many of these friends contribute liberally but more for the uplifting of the poor than to bring the Gospel to them. Also with funding comes many stipulation of how to spend the funds including the foreign methodology and foreign face of Christianity. Some Christian work has used this “opportunity” to give exaggerated reports and misuse of funds and not able to raise local funding and leadership.
Any conference anywhere in India or abroad it becomes impossible to gather the right kind of people because of the funding issues. Every gathering needs travel subsidy and thus at times we get leaders who are not supposed to be there and also a tendency of man pleasing for the subsequent funding for the work in India. Many times it is done at the cost of dignity.
The theological issue here again is that fund generation through businesses are silently not welcomed in “the ministry.” Often, thus the ministries tend to be dependent in external funding, more so from the West, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, America and so on. The meaning of all partnership boils down to how much fund could be extracted from the relationship. In the long run it breeds guilt ridden paternalistic and/or controlling relationships. Dignity is out of the windows. In many global conferences it is openly announced funds for the “sponsored” candidates or for the “poor brethren.” Some Indians cringe in this situation and some are happy to perpetuate the “poor brothers” syndrome. This has to change.
Therefore IMA has been advocating all mission organizations to become self-reliant with fund generations from their area or through businesses etc. It is heart warming to see members like the Great Commission Movement Trust in Gujarat, which encourages all people to have jobs/businesses/vocation even if he is a fulltime pastor. Their philosophy is that a vocation not only makes a person financially independent, gives dignity but also makes him/her become an acceptable member of a society (2010:22-24).
I agree with these analytical views and recommendations. I proceed to highlight the four measures to advance effective and strategic mission partnerships with churches: commonality of strategy, friendship of equals, empowerment of locals, and servanthood of expatriates.
KEY SUBSTANCE: COMMONALITY OF STRATEGY
Above all, effective partnerships must start only with those who share the same mission strategy, and in the first few years be very strict about welcoming new partners. To overcome all the weaknesses mentioned above and to be most effective in reaching the entire peoples and communities that will finally put “closure” to fulfilling the Great Commission, I highly recommend “CHRISTWARD MOVEMENTS” (CMs) as the best common mission strategy.
There are basically two kinds of CMs. The first are those who plant churches with religious structures separate from the community. These prefer to be called “Church Planting Movements” (CPM) or “House Church Movements” (HCM) and are classified mainly as C-4 in the C-1 to C-6 spectrum (cf. Travis 1998). The other is C-5 and has been called “Insider Movements” (IM) or “Disciple Multiplication Movements” (DMM). This second type avoids extraction evangelism and disciples converts informally in house church networks (HCNs) in their socio-religious contexts. It spreads vertically and horizontally seeking to transform religious structures from within (cf. Talman & Travis 2015). In Asia, most CMs in China, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam tend to be of the first kind (C-4), while those in Japan, Pakistan, Myanmar and Thailand to be of the second (C-5). India and Bangladesh have a mix of both, though the largest ones are C-5 (cf. Lim 2016).
CMs are best seen in contrast to the “extraction evangelism” of the “imperial” approach (or “missions by wealth and power),” which has been the predominant “top-down” paradigm of Christendom missions. Instead CMs use the “friendship (or relational) evangelism” of the “incarnational” approach (or “missions by love and good works”). The best “bottom up” practices are the integration of CPM (most effectively through house church networks) (cf. Simson 2001; Zdero 2004; Lim 2010, 2016), with critical or radical contextualization of the Gospel message (cf. Richardson 1981; Lim 2003, 2010) and church forms (cf. Kraft 1979, 2005; Lim 2010a; Richard 1999; Hoefer 2001), as well as community development (Lim 1992:20) through lay (or tentmaker) missionaries, especially business people and social entrepreneurs (Bornstein 2003; Yamamori & Eldred 2003).
Although there was some hesitation in a plenary session at Tokyo 2010, CM was fully endorsed in the concluding sermon by David Cho, the founder of Asia Missions Association (AMA) and the Third World Missions Association (which co-hosted Tokyo 2010), at the 10th AMA Triennial Convention held in Jakarta last November 3-7, 2010. CM, specifically IM, was also recognized in the Cape Town Commitment of the Third Lausanne International Conference held in October 2010. In the past two decades, CM has been gradually accepted by Western and Filipino missions, and lately by a few Korean missions.
There are many success stories of CM over the years especially through the house church movements in China and India. Mainstream missions who have done CM in the 10/40 Window have gradually been recognized. This type of missions has been done among Muslims (Garrison 2005; Travis 2000, 2006), Hindus (Richard 1999; Hoefer 2001), and Buddhists (Deng 2005; Garrison 2004; Wesley 2004; Carlton 2000).
Given CM’s unique and fruitful missiological understanding and missionary approach, sharing a common mission strategy becomes a very important requirement. Having a commonly-owned vision, defined objectives and a common focus or purpose are clearly listed among the “key principles” that make for effective collaborative partnerships (Butler 2006). Having partners who do not share the same strategy will delay, hinder and often also detract the group from pursuing the mission and goal of the partnership. May there be a CM partnership for every unreached people and community in the next few years.
KEY RELATIONSHIP: FRIENDSHIP OF EQUALS
Secondly, the very nature of CM requires that all partners accept each other and relate to each other as friends and equals, even in the patron-client relational culture that prevails in most Asian contexts. This transformational relationship prevents the patron from becoming patronizing. From the start, the expatriate should avoid the patron role, but should rather build on local assets or resources, so as not to create dependency. In CM, upon entering a community, the outsider models simple lifestyle by living dependently on the hospitality of the local people, specifically a “person of peace” (cf. Luke 10:4-8). Friendship, mutuality and community are established from the beginning.
As in all partnerships, and more importantly for CM, there must be trust, mutuality, understanding, compassion, and sometimes forgiveness. And as in all human relations, especially intimate ones, this is possible only through mutual listening. People want to be heard: “They want us to understand their intrinsic claims, their justice of being. They want justice from us. But we can give it to them only through love which listens… Listening love is the first step to justice in person-to-person encounters” (Paul Tillich in Ross 2010:145).
In order to make partnerships grow, more being, more living, more listening, and less talking is needed of each partner. Listening enhances the acceptance by each one of genuine involvement, a committal of oneself to the other partners in trust. This element of trust is foundational, as each partner entrusts the direction and programs of the partnership to the others. They must each respect the others’ cultural way of being and doing. They must give up control and share the responsibility. This is precisely what Bishop Azariah of India (one of the few non-Westerners at Edinburgh 1910) meant when he said in his plenary message on what was amiss in world missions in his days, and is still relevant in most missions today: “Give us friends.”
Yet friendships must translate into “giving” in give-and-take relationships. “It belongs to the right of everyone whom we encounter to demand something from us” (Tillich in ibid.). This is the essence of the “I-Thou” relationship. Exchange of gifts must be done in a way that both partners practice giving and receiving in a spirit of mutual respect that enriches the relationship. This giving may be as simple as acknowledging that the other whom we encounter is a person. This minimum of giving can lead toward a maximum of self-sacrifice if required. In terms of partnership, this means responsibility. To be in a partnership means to be committed to giving within the partnership and through it (ibid.).
The situation is complicated by the reality of great disparities in material resources between partners (Funkschmidt 2002:570). What do churches in the Global South have to give to those in the Global North? In most instances, those from the Global North have not been able to name what they receive from their “partnership.” Western partners usually know what they have to give, but they “[do] not know as clearly what [they have] gone to receive. And that is where the trouble starts” (David Bosch in Spencer 2010:150).
Trouble starts in part because their partners are, as a consequence of this inequity, unsure of their commitment to authentic partnership. “It is necessary for the church in the West to demonstrate that it is ready to receive what is offered; it is also important for our partners to know of that receptiveness” (Thomas 2003:384). Put more bluntly, Amon Eddie Kasambala, a Zambian, critiqued partnership by asking, “What can one receive when one has been on the giving side for a very long time?” (Spencer 2010:150).
So, how do we do this in a world (and in the missions community) that behaves differently – in a world rife with unequal power dynamics, in a world where the powerful are heard and the powerless are not, and where the wealthy can choose to give and the poor are forced to receive? In a recent reflection about the last of the Millennium Development Goals, to “create a global partnership,” Spencer wrote that Americans need “to allow ourselves to be needy too, to see in these goals a message to us. It may mean that, contrary to dominant American impulses, we are just quiet for awhile, we listen, we don’t organize anything or do anything for ‘them.’” We just are (2010:151).
Discernment is required to address the neediness of all partners. For “true mutuality,” the “fatal mistake” in relations between Global North and Global South churches…was that our partnerships have historically involved “the same kind of ‘commodities’” (Bosch in Spencer 2010:152). Reciprocity was expressed in an exchange of the same commodities that those in the Global North already had in abundance. “Genuine reciprocity can only develop where the two respective partners do not receive the same as they have given.” The purpose of partnerships is to serve the needs of each other (ibid.).
What do those from the Global North need that a partnership could provide? Most of these are intangibles: phrases like “global awareness,” “a broadening experience of the world,” “a sense of what it is to be a global,” “a window on the world,” and “an incarnational presence.” And individuals and institutions in the Global South can offer these things in abundance. Sandra McCann, an Episcopalian serving at Msalato Theological College in Tanzania, observed that “what Tanzanians have to offer is an example of Christ-like hospitality and a rich worship experience and a living example of joy and deep faith in the midst of poverty” (ibid.). Grant LeMarquand reports that students at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry (Ambridge, Pa.) return home from global experiences “realizing that they are in a missional situation here.” They have found a “new way of seeing home.” The benefits flow from “expanded horizons” (ibid.).
But Mortimer Arias, formerly the president of Seminario Biblico Latinoamericano in Costa Rica, adds the caveat that mutuality requires those in the North “to be specifically careful not to use the rest of the world . . . for the sake of their global education.” It is clear that “use” is the key word in this warning (ibid.). Indeed, without the mutual give-and-take friendship of equals, no mission partnership can endure or even exist with integrity and dignity.
KEY OBJECTIVE: EMPOWERMENT OF LOCALS/NATIONALS/INSIDERS
Thirdly, effective mission partnerships must result in the empowerment of locals or nationals. CM’s goal is the realization of the Kingdom of God (New Testament) or Shalom (Old Testament) in particular communities and sectors of society. These transformed or redeemed communities must be indigenous: self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating and self-theologizing as they express their faith in simple ways out of their love for God by the power of the Holy Spirit. They must be contextual (= not foreign) and community-based (= owned and managed by local people).
For this to happen, priority must be given to the development of local leaders who are also empowering or transformational. Partnership is “close to the biblical notion of koinonia” (Funkschmidt 2002:568). It is grounded in God’s indwelling, a message of hospitality, of mutuality of guest and host (Reissner 2001:5). In this relationship, non-residents must keep in mind that they are guests who offer the gift of enabling and empowerment. But it is the local persons and organizations who play hosts, who offer the gift of freedom and opportunity – for friendship and partnership (Spencer 2010:151). Therefore, the local people should be the senior partners whose interests and even authority and control must have preeminence, no matter the contribution each has invested into the partnership.
This is the principle by which the missions of Jesus and Paul were conducted. They always left an empowered community that was truly indigenous and contextualized in self-governing, self-propagating, self-supporting and self-theologizing. These community-based “house church networks” were not dependent on external partners and resources, and their receiving of external help on occasion, usually during calamities and persecutions, were showcases of their inter-dependence in the single Body, or better, between the branches of their Father’s business (or better, His global “family of families”)!
In our age of globalization, financial sustainability and growth is needed for the long-term development of communities and nations. So some, if not most, of the budget for CMs must be allotted for income-generation and economic development. We should join cause-oriented groups to advocate for “simple (or green) lifestyles” and “fair trading” to slow down the overpowering “consumer society” of globalization. There are many who are now working for a new economic order called “Solidarity Economy,” following the principles of Jubilee in Leviticus 25. The bottom-line for businesses must now be four-fold: not just profit, but also planet, people and prayer (financial, ecological, social and spiritual), as stated in the Lausanne Forum 2004 paper on “Business as Mission (BAM).” Many Christian development organizations, like World Vision, Compassion, TearFund, World Relief, Food for the Hungry and World Renew have been doing “Transformational Development,” which include livelihood training, micro-credit and micro-enterprise development (Myers 1999; Fikkert 2005; Corbett & Fikkert 2009:201-214) as well as fair trade.
These efforts must focus on the organization of people-owned and self-managing community organizations and social enterprises, like cooperatives, mutual insurance firms, credit unions, etc. (Lim 1992:15-18; Fikkert 2005). The wealth generated by the poor will lead to “lift” their own families, who will often move elsewhere, thereby forsaking their community. Thus we need to set up cooperatives to help keep the wealth while also generating more wealth in the local community. And the best way for any locality to gain wealth is to provide for both local food sufficiency and appropriate technologization and industrialization.
Many effective missions have also invested in the economic and social “lift” of their converts through providing basic schooling and vocational training, even up to post-graduate education. These programs eventually became Christian colleges and universities. Providing scholarships for leadership development of national movements has been empowering, too. These provided the leadership, not just for the churches, but also for the communities, even for their respective nations and beyond. Moreover, since financial accountability is almost always involved, the capacity of the local financial office for the accounting of their incomes and expenses has to be ensured.
Actually CMs do not require major external funding, except for the travel expenses of the catalyst-workers, just as Jesus trained his disciples to do (cf. Luke 10:1-17). Believing that the resources for God’s harvest are in the harvest-field, these bi-vocational missionaries need minimal external support. With just authentic work, study, business or even tourist visas, they can catalyze CMs wherever they go. It is possible and highly effective to simply send out such workers into the global labor market as maids, cooks, welders, seamen and other low-skilled jobs as tentmaker-missionaries, as Filipino Christians have been doing strategically since 2001. Using businesspeople as “foreign investors” for BAM may even be a much more effective way.
Yet external funding is needed for partnerships on the ground for their community/people, most especially if they work among the poor and marginalized. With simple basic community organizing skills, they can mobilize the poor communities to become self-sufficient and fast-track their economic development with bigger capitalization. This external aid enables them to gain excess income faster, not just for their communal life, but also for their capacity to contribute to relief and development challenges and to send out their own workers, who are going to be more effective to reach out to their neighbors and even cross-culturally.
For Evangelicals, a central concern for CMs is the self-theologizing aspect also: who controls the theological development of the indigenous movement? Most helpful may be Andrew Walls’ (1997; 2002) insight that it took at least a couple of centuries before the early church developed through different doctrinal conflicts what eventually became mainstream Christian Trinitarian theology. He has suggested that we must be patient to let each community reflect directly from Scriptures in their context, perhaps for at least three generations.
Walls identifies three stages in the process of transformation of biblical faith into the Greek thought-world of subsequent Western Christendom. The first missionary stage was typified by Paul as he began to adapt Jewish vocabulary and forms to Hellenistic worldview, categories and language. The second convert stage was represented by Justin Martyr who showed that Christ can inhabit the Greek world and work to transform it from within; conversion means to turn what is already there in a new direction, rather than substituting something new for something old. And the final refiguration stage was seen in Origen who grew up in the Christian faith and yet was reconciled to its pre-Christian inheritance, and was comfortable and not afraid of either.
This should give comfort and confidence most especially to indigenous peoples and those who speak minority dialects who are usually considered “poor:”: they will not need to surrender their identity, worldview and culture, to follow a foreign Jesus. They can confidently reflect on God’s word in their vernacular and let Jesus enter fully into their culture and specific sub-cultures. This is the confidence that we have in the infallible teaching authority of the Scriptures (sola Scriptura!) for our faith and its transforming power for our practice/lifestyle/culture. As Christ-believers doing CM or IM in the midst of religious and cultural pluralism, we only need to hold on to two absolutes: God and His Word that reveals His plan in the creation-fall-redemption drama in Christ. We call on all our earthly contacts and all humanity to share in this pilgrimage to obey His will for our lives, each in their cultural and religious milieu.
Hence to be truly effective, priority must be given to the native who understands the local culture and situation best. If finances are involved, they must be incorporated into the budget made consultatively with the local leadership. During and after deliberations, their preferences should be given primary consideration, their initiatives and programs encouraged and developed, and their best materials should be the ones produced and reproduced, rather than just the translation of those foreign-produced, no matter how effective they may have been used elsewhere.
KEY ATTITUDE: SERVANTHOOD OF EXPATRIATES/OUTSIDERS
And lastly, besides being aware of being guests in a partnership, expatriates or non-residents must also view themselves as servants. In most instances, those from the global North assume leadership in any relationship, just because of their superiority of position and wealth (whether in reality or in perception), often combined with their self-confident personality if not assertive demeanor, and also because of the culture of most Global South contexts where guests are given preferential treatment. This is actually a test of their maturity in practicing servant-leadership.
The issue of power distorts all the fine ideals and makes the practice of partnership difficult and demanding. It is difficult to have a truly mutual relationship when the two parties possess unequal power. But that is the reality of our world today. We know that money, resources, education, land, access to technology, ownership, and much more are unfairly and unequally distributed (Ross 2010:148).
The model of God’s incarnation is helpful here. We can let go of our pride and power, our privilege and sense of entitlement, insofar as we empty ourselves following Christ’s way depicted in Philippians 2. We seek to empty ourselves of our pride and ethnocentrism, our feelings of cultural, religious, and technological superiority, which blind and grip us all. We seek to empty ourselves of the need to initiate, control, dominate, impose, manipulate, and run ahead in partner-relationships. We seek to empty ourselves of autonomy and independence.
In cases where finances are involved, partnerships require the expatriates to share willingly and cheerfully, without strings attached, while rightly demanding contextual forms of transparency and accountability. In the New Testament koinonia denotes “partaking together in” or having a share; it stands for the privilege of participation.
“We are then, to seek first for the inward bond which holds the fellowship of Christ-followers together, which inward fellowship is then externally manifested by the life of fellowship, with its almsgiving, sharing of property and breaking of bread, which we find in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles” (Warren 1956:48).
In passages where koinonia refers to the life of the Christian community, the partnership with other Christians is made explicit in the taking of collections on behalf of the needy (Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:13): “all are equally involved, all have committed themselves to God in trust, all have a share in common responsibility, all recognize that they belong together, that if one member suffers, they all suffer, all have a liability for each” (:52).
Bosch writes about “victim-missionaries,” who, “in contrast to exemplar-missionaries, lead people to freedom and community” (in Ross 2010:147). Could we say the same of “victim-partners”? In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul teaches about “the validity of paradox, about a God who, in spite of being all-powerful became weak and vulnerable in his Son” (ibid.). We live in a relationship with a crucified God. Do we in our involvement with Him and as His ambassadors live likewise? Koyama complained that too often Christian mission has exhibited a “crusading mind” rather than a “crucified mind” and that it suffers from a “teacher complex.” What attitudes do we exhibit when we enter into partnership? Do we adopt a crusading mind and teacher mentality, or are we disciples and partners with crucified minds, giving up our rights, manifesting the courage to be weak – living the paradox of a crucified, almighty God? Victim-missionaries are not powerful and successful, nor are victim-partners. In this asymmetrical and uneven world, victim-partners will not create what has been described as “a relationship of controlling benefactors to irritated recipients of charity,” in which recipients end up experiencing a complex mix of gratitude and resentment at the same time (ibid.).
These insights about vulnerability and “victim-missionaries/partners” remind us to adopt an attitude of humility and of considering others better than ourselves (Phil.2:3-4). Such sensitivity is required of the strong, so they may empower the weak. A related issue here is what the partners are seeking to share. Money, resources, education, land, technology, ownership, and power may be unfairly distributed and may lead to distorted exchanges. But as seen above, what else are we seeking to share? Stories, traditions, ancient knowledge and customs, inheritances, joy, kindness, goodness, beauty, sustainability, difference – these too are to be shared and can restore a balance where there may be uneven power dynamics (ibid.).
Moreover, this practice of humility, vulnerability, generosity and servant-leadership can serve as good modeling for the locals/nationals, too, and thus promote and perpetuate the way of Christ. Such incarnational and cruciform pattern of sharing sacrificially is the way to fill up the gaps, weaknesses, struggles and sufferings in the body of Christ – in a truly inter-dependent mutuality of partaking in each other’s spiritual and material gifts.
Finances have been a dominant challenge to authentic mutuality, leading to problematic partnerships where economic resources are disparate. This is not going to change, even if much of the Global North is struggling financially since 2008, so the task is to work through financial inequities in a manner that creates and sustains mutual and authentic partnerships (Spencer 2010:153). As shown above, the key to this is an analysis of power, for it is from a position of power that wealthier individuals and institutions, religious and secular, have historically abused relationships and misused partnerships.
This article has shown that mission-church partnerships can occur only if the parties involved work on the four measures: commonality of vision, friendship of equals, empowerment of locals, and servanthood of expatriates. Such arrangements assume the sincerity of all partners to do effective mission together, and the willingness of each to plan, budget and discuss all matters openly and honestly. Each is free to accept or not accept the terms of any agreement within the partnership. In this process of shared discernment, the ultimate decisions about programs and budgets belong to each partner, yet each must be committed to listen to and learn from one another as they consider what are needed to fulfill their mission (ibid.).
How long should partnerships be sustained? For as long as necessary, that is, until the mission has been achieved to the satisfaction of the partners. It is best to set time limits from the start, while leaving the dates flexible and allowing for renewals or extensions. Time limits free each partner from the unsatisfactory phenomenon of just letting the partnership quietly die. Rather, timetables encourage evaluation, and as critical an exercise as this may be for any specific activity, it needs to be undertaken for the relationship as well. With this periodic mutual discernment process, the partners may reach shared decisions about the future. Whether a partnership is renewed or ended, or even dissolved earlier than anticipated, partners should remain friends, seek possibilities to collaborate on other programs/projects and find opportunities to celebrate the relationship (Butler 2006). The quest for partnerships that result in effective missions deserves constant celebration.
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“Missional Christians are believers in Christ who believe that the work of the missions is not just for fulltime Christian workers but for every believer who follows Christ. Thus each committed believer feels and works as a missionary in any area of work that God has kept them as teachers, doctors, artists etc” (Rajendran 2010:23).
 Bishop Azariah spoke on the theme, ‘Native Church and Foreign Mission,’ saying, “I do not plead for returning calls, handshakes, chairs, dinners and teas as such. I do on the other hand plead for all of them and more if they can be expressions of a friendly feeling, if these or anything else can be the outward proofs of a real willingness on the part of the foreign missionary to show that he is in the midst of the people to be to them not a lord and master but a brother and a friend…..We ask for love. Give us friends.”
 Fung rightly cautions that this mentality can be Asian, too, “I am concerned that we as Asians may be repeating the same mistake that our Western brethren might have committed in the past – that is, to equate economic and political power with advances in the spreading of the gospel. We continue to reinforce the notion that the spreading of the gospel is always from the powerful to the powerless, the haves to the have-nots. There is a sense of Asian triumphalism that makes me nervous” (2010:4).
 To be transformational, the whole community and not just their leaders must be directly involved in the planning process. Input and decisions must come from all the stakeholders rather than top-down leadership-determined outcomes. We may start with a leadership-initiated partnership, but the partners should explicitly create structures, committees, votes and other opportunities to engage their whole constituencies (cf. Scheffler 2008:261-270). Hence short-term partnerships between small organizations involving “just enough” funding may be most efficient and effective.
 My school, the Asian School of Development and Cross-cultural Studies (ASDECS) seeks to fast-track this leadership development process through offering secular graduate degree programs (with biblical theology and spirituality integrated in the courses) for national leaders in Asia and beyond.
 Fung rightly observes, “Over-giving and over-receiving often cripple the work of God. A pastor from China once said to me, ‘We do not need money from the West. Money will divide the church in China’” (2010:2). The corrupting influence of money (esp. of having more than enough) is human and global (cross-cultural).
Dr. David S. Lim is the Executive Director of China Ministries International-Philippines, that recruits Filipino missionaries for China. He serves as a key member of the Facilitation Team that seeks to mobilize and train 200,000 Filipino missionaries to reach the unreached peoples of the world. He had previously served as Academic Dean at Asian Theological Seminary(Philippines) and Oxford Centre for Mission Studies(U.K.), and now serves as President of two schools: Asian School for Development and Cross-Cultural Studies (ASDECS) and Asian Center for English Studies(ACES). His Ph.D in the New Testaments was earned from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, U.S.A.