The modern missions movement has been shaped by many men and women of God who have taken the Great Commission off the pages of their bibles and sought to obey it with their lives. These extravagant "yeses" echo throughout history and give 21st-century missionaries hope to pick up the baton and charge forward to the finish line of the gospel in every nation. We know it is God who places people groups and nations on the hearts of human beings and compels them to leave behind what is comfortable and to go into places they would have never imagined. These weak broken humans who get touched by God's heart and lay their lives down to be missionaries are often forgotten and rarely celebrated, but the inheritance they leave behind somehow survives generation after generation, waiting to be picked up once again. I believe this is the story of African Americans and missions.
Over the last 100 years, missions has evolved and developed so much so that we now know which nations and people groups have had a gospel witness and which ones have yet to be reached with the gospel. We know where they are, who they are and how many there are. A quick glance at the world missions force today will show that the church in the U.S. sends out most of the world's missionaries. Yet out of all of the missionaries sent out, only 1% of those missionaries are Black.
There is a gap.
Where are the Black missionaries? There are a number of people going and being funded to go, but why are there barely any Black people joining the contribution to finish the task of the Great Commission?
The Great Commission wasn't just given to a few believers or a few denominations. It is the mission of the entire church! So I ask then, why so few Black laborers on the field? What have been the stumbling blocks in the path of Black laborers being sent out to the harvest?
There seems to have been a great omission from the Great Commission.
According to popularized history, many have been told that Adoniram Judson Jr. was the first American missionary who was sent overseas to modern-day Burma (1812). But in fact, he was not the first missionary, he was the first white missionary. The first person to leave the shores of America for the sake of the gospel was an African American man named George Liele who left in 1783 for Jamaica, 30 years before Judson did, making Liele America's first missionary. An eerily similar story emerges when we look at who was the first single woman missionary sent from America. It has been taught and believed to be Lottie Moon, who sailed for China in 1873. In fact, it was an African American woman named Betsey Stockton who sailed for the Sandwich Islands (modern-day Hawaii) in 1822.You might be asking why that is even important? Find out the answer here and listen to MAPS Global on the Charisma Podcast Network.
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