From 'mission field' to 'mission force': The emergence of mission organisations in former mission receiving countries

Ekström, Lars Bertil (2011). From 'mission field' to 'mission force': The emergence of mission organisations in former mission receiving countries. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis is about Evangelical mission movements that have emerged in the Global South, particularly in Brazil, Ghana and India from the 1970s onwards. An important development among Evangelical churches since the Second World War has been the growth of Evangelicalism in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Former 'mission fields' have turned into 'mission forces' and changed the scenario of global missionary enterprise.

The ability of the Christian faith to be translated into any cultural context, the so-called 'translatability principle' of Christianity proposed by Andrew Walls, has been the starting point for analysing and evaluating the level of mission awareness and the models of mission involvement evident in Evangelical churches in the studied countries. However, the translatability principle is not sufficient to explain the emergence of mission initiatives and the models of mission engagement used by newer sending countries in the Global South. There are other issues that influence the way mission movements emerge and the research has identified specific key factors contributing to the formation of mission structures through analysis of the reasons why they have started and how they have developed over the last forty years. These have been divided into internal, external and international factors in relation to the history, tradition and growth of Evangelical churches in each country. The analysis demonstrates that the combination of these factors creates a propitious ambience for mission initiatives. Comparison has also been made with historical processes in older sending countries and similar developments in other newer sending countries.

The information for this study derives primarily from interviews with mission leaders in Brazil, Ghana and India and from printed materials provided by mission organisations in these countries.

The thesis contains an important contribution to the Area of Mission Studies and particularly to the study of newer mission movements, providing a methodology for the analysis and evaluation of the viability and sustainability of mission organisations in the Global South.

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