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n 1973, a third ol a ccntury ago, avid Cho,
Ph.., invitcd scvcral ol us lrom thc Vcst to
a mccting in Scoul, Korca which prcccdcd thc
lormation ol thc Asia Missions Association. n that
occasion ! prcscntcd a papcr urging Asian mission
lcadcrs not to makc thc samc mistakc as Vcstcrn
lcadcrs had madc whcn thc Forcign Mission Conlcr
cncc ol North Amcrica shortly altcr 1900 had insistcd
that in Gods Kingdom only dcnominational mission
boards wcrc lcgitimatc. My papcr was cntitlcd, Tc
Two Structurcs ol Gods Rcdcmptivc Mission, which
spokc lavorably ol both modalitics and sodalitics.
8y now, ol coursc, thcrc arc many Amcrican as wcll as
Asian structurcs that arc intcrdcnominational.
Latcr, ! oltcn pointcd out in my classroom tcaching
thc shocking lailurc ol thc Vcstcrn missions to undcr
stand thc possibility and importancc ol NonVcstcrn
bclicvcrs to lorm thcir own mission agcncics. 8y now,
ol coursc, NonVcstcrn agcncics arc vcry numcrous
and cnthusiastic.
!t would sccm clcar that Asian mission lcadcrs havc
potcntially a grcat advantagc in bcing ablc to lcarn
lrom thc mistakcs ol Vcstcrn agcncics. !l not, Asian
mission lcadcrs lacc thc dangcr ol making somc ol thc
samc mistakcs. nc problcm is that Vcstcrn lcadcrs
may not know what thcir mistakcs arc, and thus cannot
warn Asian lcadcrs ol what Vcstcrn lcadcrs did wrong.
!t is also truc that not all Vcstcrncrs agrcc about thc
various issucs in missiology. Tus, thc twclvc mis
takcs ol Vcstcrn churchcs and agcncics, as dcscribcd
bclow, must bc undcrstood to bc mcrcly my own bcst
undcrstanding. Notc that thcy arc not problcms ol thc
distant past. Tcy arc all contcmporary problcms. !n
any casc, Asians will havc to judgc thcir validity.
1. Te Mistake of Starting Bible
Schools, Not Universities
Tc Studcnt \oluntccr Movcmcnt, in which John
Mott was a lcadcr, is notcd lor thc numbcr ol univcrsi
tics that it cstablishcd around thc world. Tc mission
arics who wcnt to China madc surc thcrc was a univcr
sity in cvcry provincc ol China. Howcvcr, in latcr ycars
vangclicals, who had ncvcr bccn to collcgc, wcnt out
across thc world and cstablishcd 8iblc Schools, 8iblc
!nstitutcs or thcological schools that cithcr rcplaccd
or ignorcd thc univcrsity tradition. !n thc last 50 ycars
thc majority ol Amcrican mission agcncics havc not
loundcd a singlc univcrsity.
Tc curious thing is that, cvcn though wcstcrn mis
sionarics cannot bc givcn crcdit (cxccpt in thc carlicr
pcriod) lor cstablishing univcrsitics, thc hundrcds ol
thousands ol national lcadcrs who havc bccn a product
ol wcstcrn mission agcncics havc bccn ablc to scc what
thc missionarics could not scc. Tcy havc rccognizcd
thc grcat inucncc ol thc univcrsity pattcrn. As a rcsult
thcy havc takcn thc initiativc to lound ovcr lorty uni
vcrsitics in thc last lorty ycars. ! myscll was, somcwhat
accidcntally, part ol thc lounding ol an cvangclical uni
vcrsity in Guatcmala which now altcr lorty ycars has
37,000 studcnts. No missionary can bc givcn any crcdit
lor thc lounding ol this univcrsity. !n my casc ! mcrcly
stood up lor a photograph ol thc lounding board ol
dircctors two wccks bclorc lcaving thc country to bc a
prolcssor at Fullcr Scminary.
Vhy is it that missionarics havc not rcalizcd that 8iblc
Schools, no mattcr how high thc quality ol instruc
tion and curricula, simply do not rcprcscnt thc global
mainstrcam ol thc univcrsity pattcrn: !n thc last 100
To Te New Asian Society of Missiology:
Greetings from the West
Ralph D. Winter
clivcrcd at thc 2007 ASM Forum in 8angkok. Uscd with pcrmission.
:8 To :nv Nvw Asi~x Sociv:v ov Missioiocv: Gvvv:ixcs vvo: :nv Vvs:
ycars in thc Unitcd Statcs 157 8iblc !nstitutcs cvcntu
ally, altcr sixty or scvcnty ycars, havc convcrtcd ovcr
to collcgcs and univcrsitics. Vhy havcnt missionar
ics applicd thc samc practical wisdom in thcir work
ovcrscas: Tis has bccn a scrious stratcgic mistakc. Vc
can at lcast bc glad that national lcadcrs havc takcn
thc initiativc to lound univcrsitics without thc hclp ol
wcstcrn missionarics.
2. Te Mistake of Only Salvation in
Heaven, not Kingdom on Earth
arlicr missionarics again wcrc wiscr than thosc in
rcccnt timcs. Tcy rcalizcd that (as wc scc in thc Lords
Praycr), Jcsus told us to pray lor Gods Kingdom to
comc and His will to bc donc on carth. Yct wc havc
mainly hclpcd pcoplc cscapc this world. Unlikc thc
19th ccntury, many missionarics in thc 20th ccntury,
who havc not bccn inucntial in thc uppcr lcvcls ol
socicty, havc bccn contcnt to talk about gctting pcoplc
into hcavcn but havc no longcr bccn conccrncd lor
translormation in this lilc. Tcy havc donc many good
things on thc micro lcvcl ol socictyhospitals, clin
ics, schools, vocational training, agricultural dcvcl
opmcntsthcy cvcn pionccrcd insights into lcprosy
and csscntially conqucrcd that malady. 8ut thcrc wcrc
many things on thc macro lcvcl ol socicty thcy couldnt
do without grcatcr social inucncc, such as stamp
ing out Guinca Vorm or malaria. Today, howcvcr,
whcn vangclicals havc lar grcatcr inucncc than cvcr
bclorc, thcy arc oltcn aslccp to thc opportunitics lor
translormation on thc macro lcvcls ol socicty.
3. Te Mistake of Congregations
Sending Missionaries, Not Using
Mission Agencies
Today many congrcgations arc largc cnough and strong
cnough to lccl that thcy dont nccd a mission agcncy
through which to scnd thcir missionarics. Tis is a ncw
and widcsprcad phcnomcnon which ignorcs thc grcat
valuc ol thc vctcran mission agcncics which can draw
upon thc insights ol missiology and thc vast cld cxpc
ricncc which arc lacking in thc avcragc congrcgation.
!t may bc truc that somc mission agcncics arc morc cx
pcricnccd and wiscr than othcrs, but to my knowlcdgc
thcrc is no cxamplc ol a local congrcgation bypassing
mission agcncics with any grcat succcss.
4. Te Mistake of Whole
Congregations in Direct Involvement,
Not Professional Missions
A morc rcccnt phcnomcnon (which is charactcristic
ol wholc congrcgations which arc highly cxcitcd about
missions) is thc idca ol cvcry lamily in a congrcgation
bricy bccoming a missionary lamily. !n this plan, dur
ing, say, a lourycar pcriod, thc intcntion is lor cvcry
lamily in thc church to go ovcrscas to work on somc
sort ol twowcck projcct. Tis is a marvclous idca lor
thc cducation ol pcoplc in thc church about lorcign
lands. Yct, it is incrcdibly cxpcnsivc and it is a vcry
qucstionablc contribution to thc causc ol missions.
5. Te Mistake of Insisting that
Devout Followers of Jesus Call
Temselves Christians and
Identify with the Western Church
Congrcgations may nd it casy to bclicvc that thcir
pcoplc can win convcrts to Christianity in a tcnday
shorttcrm mission. 8ut what vcry lcw congrcgations
in Amcrica arc prcparcd to undcrstand is that drag
ging pcoplc out ol thcir culturc and convcrting thcm
to what thcy think a Christian should look likc, is not
what thc 8iblc tcachcs. Tc 8iblc talks ol our convcy
ing a trcasurc in carthcn vcsscls. Tc carthcn vcsscls arc
not thc important thing, but thc trcasurc is. Tc ncw
vcsscl will bc anothcr vcry dicrcnt carthcn vcsscl. Tis
is what happcncd whcn thc laith ol thc 8iblc was rst
convcycd to Grccks. !n that casc thc trcasurc ol 8ibli
cal laith in an carthcn Jcwish vcsscl bccamc containcd
in a Grcck carthcn vcsscl. Latcr it wcnt to Latin vcsscls
and to Gcrmanic vcsscls and to nglish vcsscls, and is
now containcd in Muslim vcsscls, Hindu vcsscls and
8uddhist vcsscls.
!t is just as unrcasonablc lor a Hindu to bc draggcd
complctcly out ol his culturc in thc proccss ol bccom
ing a lollowcr ol Christ as it would havc bccn il Paul
thc Apostlc had insistcd that a Grcck bccomc a Jcw
in thc proccss ol lollowing Christ. Amazingly, thcrc
may bc morc Muslims who arc truc, 8iblcbclicving
lollowcrs ol Christ, than thcrc arc Muslims who havc
abandoncd thcir cultural tradition in thc proccss ol bc
coming Christian. Tcrc arc alrcady morc Hindus who
arc prcdominantly Hindu in thcir culturc but who arc
8iblcrcading bclicvcrs in Jcsus Christ, than thcrc arc
Ralph D. Winter :
Hindus who havc abandoncd thcir culturc and bccomc
Christian. !n thc Ncw Tcstamcnt thcrc was no law
against a Grcck bccoming a Jcw. Howcvcr, Paul was
vcry insistcnt that that kind ol a cultural convcrsion
was not ncccssary in bccoming a lollowcr ol Christ.
6. Te Mistake of Sending Only
Money, Not Missionaries
Tis has bccn a problcm lor many ycars. !t can rarcly
bc a good thing to scnd moncy to a mission cld with
littlc accountability lor its usc. Tcrc arc many cxamplcs
whcrc lorcign lunds arc uscd to buy national lcadcrs
away lrom thcir churchcs or away lrom thcir dcnomina
tions rathcr than strcngthcning thc cxisting churchcs.
Moncy can bc vcry hclplul but thcrc is no cxamplc ol
harm to thc causc ol missions that is morc cxtcnsivc
than thc carclcss usc ol moncy. Moncy is morc casily
corruptcd than missionarics. Tis is thc rcason that wisc
national lcadcrs talk about tradc, not aid. Vhat poor
pcoplc nccd is thc ability to carn moncy. Vith carnings
thcy can buy lood and mcdicincs and not havc to rcly
upon unccrtain gilts lrom a lorcign country. Missionar
ics arc oltcn illtraincd to cstablish busincsscs.
7. Te Mistake of Sending Short-
Termers, Not Long-Termers
Tis is not a casc whcrc onc ol thcsc things is good
and thc othcr is bad. Ncithcr should takc thc placc ol
thc othcr. Howcvcr, thcrc arc now almost two mil
lion shorttcrmcrs lcaving thc Unitcd Statcs cach ycar
comparcd to 35,000 longtcrm missionarics. Notc that
thc ovcrall cost ol shorttcrmcrs is at lcast vc timcs
as much as thc ovcrall cost ol longtcrm missionar
ics. Tis mcans that instcad ol doubling or tripling
thc numbcr ol longtcrm missionarics wcrc invcsting
at lcast vc timcs as much moncy in shorttcrmcrs.
Shorttcrm trips arc wondcrlul cducation, but a vcry
small accomplishmcnt in missions. Vorsc still, a short
tcrm is oltcn scary cnough or usclcss cnough to turn a
young pcrson away lrom bcing a missionary at all.
8. Te Mistake of Not
Understanding Business in Mission
and Mission in Business
nc ol thc latcst cxplosions ol intcrcst in missions
is thc rcsult ol Christian busincssmcn in thc Unitcd
Statcs rccognizing thc valuc ol thoroughly Christian
busincsscs in a lorcign land. Tcrc is no qucstion that
onc ol thc grcatcst nccds ol churchcs across thc world
is lor thcir mcmbcrs to carn a living. !t is pathctic
whcn wc think ol scnding lood around thc world
instcad ol scnding busincsscs that would cnablc bclicv
crs to carn thc moncy ncccssary to buy thcir own lood.
8usincsscs can oltcn do things that arc vcry csscntial.
Tcy can cnablc local pcoplc to scll thcir products in
lorcign lands. Tcy can producc goods ol grcat valuc to
thc pcoplc. Unlortunatcly, it is truc that lcw missionar
ics havc busincss cxpcricncc and oltcn ignorc opportu
nitics to cstablish busincsscs that would cmploy largc
numbcrs ol nccdy pcoplc.
nc thing is truc, howcvcr, that busincsscs cannot bc
rclicd on as a sourcc ol prot lor missionary work. !n
thc long run, busincsscs that divcrt prots to othcr
things will losc out to compctitors who dont divcrt
prots to othcr things. Tcrc is no grcat luturc in
a plan to milk prots lrom a busincss to support
ministry. !t is cqually truc that micro loans may havc
a tcmporary valuc, but will also lall prcy to compcti
tors with largcr capital rcsourccs cmploying inhcrcntly
morc ccicnt proccsscs. !n thc carly history ol mis
sions, Moravian missionarics startcd busincsscs and
so did somc Swiss and Gcrman missionarics. Sadly,
Amcrican missionarics havc not bccn as crcativc.
Howcvcr, thc busincss proccss will ncvcr takc thc placc
ol thc mission proccss in situations whcrc thc pcoplc
in nccd cannot pay lor what is nccdcd. 8usincsscs havc
to rccovcr thcir own cxpcnscs. Tc mission proccss is
still csscntial in all situations whcrc thcrc is no rcalistic
possibility ol rcmuncration.
9. Te Mistake of Healing the Sick,
Not Eradicating Disease Germs
Tc activity ol hcaling thc sick is onc ol thc most
gcnuinc mcans ol portraying Gods lovc and His con
ccrn lor hurting pcoplc. !t is a pcrlcct cxamplc ol thc
importancc ol thc csscntial rclationship ol word and
dccd. n thc othcr hand with our incrcascd scicntic
knowlcdgc ol microbiology God can cxpcct us to go
bcyond hcaling thc sick to thc cradication ol thc gcrms
that makc millions sick. Missionarics havc donc wcll in
cstablishing a thousand hospitals but vcry lcw ol thcm
arc big cnough or arc propcrly structurcd to bc ablc
to drivc out ol cxistcncc thc cvil pathogcns that causc
millions ol pcoplc to bc sick.
:o To :nv Nvw Asi~x Sociv:v ov Missioiocv: Gvvv:ixcs vvo: :nv Vvs:
Malaria is an cxamplc ol a tiny parasitc that drags
45 million Alricans out ol thc workplacc cvcry day
ol thc ycar. !t is impcrativc that thc malarial parasitc
bc cradicatcd. Malaria is virtually as largc a thrcat in
Alrica as thc A!S cpidcmic. Vc dont yct know how
to cradicatc thc A!S virus, but wc do know how to
rid this planct ol malaria. Tat would bc a signicant
translormation. Vhy thcn is thcrc no Christian mis
sion agcncy that is involvcd in thc cradication ol ma
laria rathcr than mcrcly thc hcaling ol thosc who arc
attackcd by malaria: !t is vcry cmbarrassing to havc to
admit that thc church ol Jcsus Christ is cxpccting bil
lionaircs likc 8ill Gatcs to do that job lor thcm. Vorsc
still, Christians arc misrcprcscnting thc lovc ol God in
Christ il thcy do not bccomc notcd lor thcir rclcntlcss
corts in such a causc.
10. Te Mistake of Tinking Peace
Not War
Missionarics havc lor ccnturics movcd out across thc
world with thc idca that thc Gospcl is mcrcly a mcs
sagc to bc communicatcd rathcr than a call to arms.
! grcw up with thc idca that thc main problcm thc
8iblc talkcd about was how human bcings can bccomc
rcconcilcd to God. Tat is ccrtainly a glorious part ol
thc story! 8ut thc main problcm thc 8iblc is rcally
talking about gocs bcyond mans rcconciliation to God
and is morc prcciscly a war in which Godplusman is
ghting against Satan and his cvil works. As a rcsult
our God is bcing blamcd widcly lor rampant discasc,
povcrty, injusticc and corruptionsincc wc as Chris
tians arc not ghting thcsc works ol Satan. Pcoplc arc
asking what kind ol a God would sponsor a world likc
this: Tcy say this bccausc thcy arc unawarc ol thc
cxistcncc ol Satan and his intclligcnt opposition to
God. Tus, instcad ol God bcing gloricd, Hc is bcing
blamcd lor thc work ol Satan.
Vhcn things go wrong vangclicals commonly say,
Vhy would God do that: instcad ol blaming Sa
tan. Tcy do not rcalizc that wc arc in a war and that
casualtics arc to bc cxpcctcd bccausc ol thc hidcous
strcngth ol our opponcnt. Vc arc lullcd into inaction
by thc widcsprcad bclicl that Satan was dclcatcd at
thc Cross. !n lact, thc Cross was thc turning point bc
yond which thcrc havc bccn ccnturics ol ongoing con
ict with a Satan yct to bc complctcly dclcatcd. Long
altcr thc Cross Paul told Agrippa his mission was
dclivcring pcoplc lrom thc dominion ol Satan. Satan
was still around. Pctcr talkcd about Satan sccking to
dcstroy. Christians today, with modcrn undcrstanding
ol microbiology, lor cxamplc, as wcll as thc cndcmic
corruption in busincss and govcrnmcnt, now posscss
lar grcatcr rcsponsibility than wc havc cvcr had bclorc.
Arc mission agcncics part ol that war against Satan:
!s it ncccssary lor Christs lollowcrs to bc countcd at
thc lront lincs ol that war whcthcr it bc cradication ol
discasc or thc conqucst ol corruption in busincss and
govcrnmcnt: o wc misrcprcscnt God il wc arc miss
ing in action: ! lccl surc wc do.
11. Te Mistake of Assuming
Science Is a Foe Not a Friend
Vhcn ! was a young pcrson missionarics wcrc show
ing scicncc lms 2,000 timcs pcr day in thc Non
Vcstcrn world. Tc Moody !nstitutc ol Scicncc lms
wcrc shown cvcn morc widcly in Amcrica. Many timcs
in history Christian scholars havc rccognizcd that
God has rcvcalcd Himscll in Two 8ooks, thc 8ook
ol Naturc and thc 8ook ol Scripturc. As Psalm 19
indicatcs, thc 8ook ol Naturc docs not cvcn nccd to bc
translatcd into thc worlds languagcs. vcry missionary
must takc with him to thc mission cld both a micro
scopc and a tclcscopc il wc arc to propcrly glorily God.
vcn morc important is thc nccd to takc to thc cld a
truc rcvcrcncc lor thc glory ol God in Crcation. Tis
rcquircs a substantial knowlcdgc ol naturc. Scicncc is
thc study ol Gods crcativity. Art is thc study ol mans
crcativity. Vc cannot truly cxpcct cducatcd pcoplc to
acccpt Christ il our hymns in church rccct no awarc
ncss ol anything discovcrcd in naturc in thc last 400
ycars, or il our young pcoplc arc bcing lcd astray by
rcccnt and supcrcial thcorics that thc world is only
6,000 ycars old. Tat is an impropcr rcading ol Gcncsis
1:1, as wcll as a rccklcss ignoring ol thousands ol hon
cst vangclicals who arc outstanding scicntists.
12. Te Mistake of an Evangelism
Tat Is Not Validated and
Empowered by Social Transformation
Scvcral timcs in thc points ! havc alrcady madc abovc
havc ! contrastcd thc 19th Ccntury Vcstcrn missionarics
and 20th Ccntury Vcstcrn missionarics. Tis is bccausc
a radical changc in thc pcrspcctivc ol Amcrican van
gclicals took placc bctwccn thc 1800s and thc 1900s. !n
thc 19th Ccntury wc wcrc singing about thc glorication
Ralph D. Winter :+
ol God as His will is lulllcd on carth. Hcrc is thc nal
stanza and chorus ol Amcrica thc 8cautilul:
bcautilul lor patriot drcam
Tat sccs bcyond thc ycars
Tinc alabastcr citics glcam
Undimmcd by human tcars.
Amcrica! Amcrica!
God shcd His gracc on thcc,
And crown thy good with brothcrhood
From sca to shining sca.
!n thc 20th Ccntury wc havc bccn singing mainly
about hcavcn:
Tis world is not my homc, !m just a passin through.
My trcasurcs arc laid up somcwhcrc bcyond thc bluc.
Tc angcls bcckon mc lrom Hcavcns opcn door
And ! cant lccl at homc in this world anymorc.
!n thc 1800s grcat rcvivals swcpt thc country and
vangclicals in high placcs conccivcd and promotcd
cqually swccping rclorms. Tcn, immigration ol non
vangclical pcoplc quadruplcd thc population and
vangclicals lost inucncc. Millions ol noncollcgc
pcoplc wcrc convcrtcd by . L. Moody and othcrs, but
thcir 157 8iblc !nstitutcs did not lccd thc prolcssions
nor congrcss. nly rcccntly, as vangclicals havc morc
and morc bccn going to univcrsitics, arc thcrc sucicnt
numbcrs ol Amcrican vangclicals to bcgin to think
scriously about social translormation cithcr in thc
USA or clscwhcrc in thc world.
! hopc it is clcar that ! havc not wantcd to do morc
than point out what in my cstimation arc lailings
and shortcomings in thc history ol Vcstcrn mission
thinkcrs. My pcrspcctivcs may bc laulty. At lcast ! havc
raiscd ccrtain issucs that Asian missiologists may also
conlront in thcir work. Furthcrmorc, this must not bc
a oncway strcct. ! hopc that wc in thc Vcst can lcarn
lrom mcmbcrs ol thc Asian Socicty ol Missiology as
thcy sharc with us thcir own pcrspcctivcs.
!n 1972 ! hclpcd to start thc ASM (Amcrican Soci
cty ol Missiology, www.asmwcb.org) and its journal,
Missiology: An International Review. A lcw ycars latcr !
hclpcd start thc !SFM (!ntcrnational Socicty ol Fron
ticr Missiology, www.ijlm.org) and thc International
Journal of Frontier Missiology. ! havc cditcd thc lattcr
lor thc last six ycars. !t will bc stratcgically hclplul as
Asian countcrparts such as thc Asian Socicty ol Mis
siology arisc and global sharing incrcascs.
Vc ol thc Vcst havc alrcady lcarncd a grcat dcal lrom you.
Vc cxpcct to lcarn a grcat dcal morc in thc luturc. Tank
you lor this invitation to grcct you in Christs namc!