Throughout the pandemic, churches have celebrated the power of online services. People who would never have set foot in a church could casually hop online for a bit of hope. But for people in the community of Ciudad de Dios, going online for church is an impossible luxury. Located on the outskirts of Arequipa, Peru, the neighborhood is made of people working simple jobs with meager wages. Any internet access comes in the form of cell phone data. And with schools online during COVID-19, families have had to use most of their data for their children’s educations. Now, well into…Read More
“Leche!” shouts a little boy. He grabs the can of milk out of a bag and starts hugging and kissing it. Missionaries pitch in to buy a coffin so their friend can be buried in the cemetery instead of a mass COVID-19 grave. Churches pool their money and start committees to provide food for the neediest families in their neighborhoods. When the new coronavirus turned into a pandemic, many people wondered, “Will COVID-19 put global missions on hold?” And while missions does look a bit different these days, we’re happy to report that God is still working to transform lives. …Read More
I am not a huge fan of tattoos, but when my 21-year-old daughter showed me hers, I fell in love. It’s a simple design on her ankle — just the coordinates of Arequipa, Peru, where she grew up as a missionary kid (MK). You might wonder, What’s the big deal about that? But as a missionary parent, the message to me is huge. It means my daughter so identifies with the place where she grew up that she wants to carry it with her forever. Lately, there has been an explosion of articles by or about MKs who rejected the…Read More
If anyone should have been ready for Muslim ministry, it was Felicity*. She grew up in the Middle East and had discussed the Quran with Muslim friends since elementary school. When she moved to a new Muslim-majority country as a missionary, she thought she would have similar discussions. There was just one problem: “I’ve tried doing that with my neighbors, especially the ladies, and they have no idea what the Quran says.” No matter how prepared you are, cross-cultural evangelism will always be full of surprises. That’s why we asked seasoned missionaries from four countries about the lessons they’ve learned…Read More
We recently released this short video by TEAM videographer Cary Brown, a profile of a couple in Peru who live in an impoverished neighborhood and commute to a much nicer part of their city to worship in a relatively wealthy church.
Cary’s excellent work (and this accompanying story) is a glimpse of a fairly rare phenomenon. In many — if not most — parts of the developing world, it’s highly uncommon for people to cross socio-economic divides to attend church. Poorer people tend to worship in “poor” churches, and wealthy people tend to worship in “rich” churches.
You could probably point to evidence that this is also the situation with the church in many North American communities. But the division is even more pronounced in the developing world.
From Mexico City to Mumbai, this is a significant challenge for missions. In many countries with a growing church, statistics for a nation as a whole might lead one to believe that the population of Christ-followers is large enough for missiologists to qualify the nation as “reached.” But segment those numbers by household income or neighborhood income, and entire “unreached” populations will emerge. The gaping income disparity between rich and poor in many of those countries is reflected in the church by equally severe stratification. The gospel may take root and flourish among slum-dwellers — or, less often, among the wealthy — but it rarely jumps to other rungs on the income ladder.
The desire and ability to minister across racial and socio-economic lines is an important sign of a church’s missional health. Missionaries like TEAM’s Craig Querfeld are working hard to get otherwise healthy churches to take the next step and develop a passion for reaching out beyond their own “kind.” This is crucial for successful church reproduction in the long-term.
Often it is easier to travel around the world to minister to people who are socio-economically like us than to befriend the “others” living next door. This goes for churches and believers in the developing world just as much as for those anywhere else.
Everyone loves a good story. Except, sometimes, when it’s about them. Like most missions agencies, TEAM has a dedicated group of professionals who work to tell the stories of what God is doing around the world. Our storytelling team (in my opinion) has one of the best jobs around, getting to know our amazing workers on the field and inviting people half a world away to experience their work through words, images and videos. Our goal is to tell the most accurate, compelling and authentic stories we can. But that goal sometimes conflicts with the desires of our story subjects,…Read More