Dr. Jim Harries, chairman of “The Alliance for Vulnerable Mission,” (AMV) shared about his missionary work in a Windows on the World lecture on Friday, Nov. 3. Harries began his talk by explaining what he does in the mission field.
“For ministry, essentially, I do Bible teaching,” Harries said.
Harries described some unexpected aspects of missionary work in Africa. He explained the racial tension surrounding a white missionary in Kenya by telling a story about a man he stayed with in Zambia. Harries noticed his host avoided talking to white men in public, and asked his host about this behavior.
“I confronted him… and he said, ‘when my people see me with white people, they assume I’m after money. The more time I spend with you, the more my reputation amongst my own people is damaged,’” Harries quoted.
Harries encountered this issue again and again; his money and resources constantly created barriers between him and the people he was trying to help. “In order to find out what people really want, you can’t have money,” Harries reported, “or at least not make any money available.” Because of this issue, Harries stressed, “Use local resources. Convince people to use their own resources to do things you think they ought to be doing.”
This idea to use local resources and native language in mission work is the philosophy of the AMV organization. Harries writes in a journal entry posted on the AMV website, “[Using local resources] forces the missionary to face the same difficulties the locals are facing, which in turn enables him/her to demonstrate ways of working that are locally achievable. Jesus himself and other biblical characters engaged in ‘vulnerable missions.’ The power they had was from God, and not from a foreign economy.”
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