What Christian Ministers Can Do to Address the Shortage of African American Missionaries

Philip Duncanson
Philip Duncanson

Not too long ago I heard a startling statistic. According to some recent reports there are roughly 300 African Americans engaged in long term international missions. And most feel that number is being generous. The Southern Baptist convention reports that only 27 of their 4,900 missionaries are black. Leroy Barber, president of Mission Year says that 1% of domestic and foreign missionaries are black. Perhaps those statistics don’t startle you. But they should. These numbers reveal a blind spot for African American Christians in particular and African American Churches in general.

There have been a number of articles written and conversations had, seeking to understand the reasons for the lack of African Americans on the mission fields. Some attribute the small numbers to a lack of money. Others say that the problems are cultural. Those are all valid points to consider, but by no means are they strong enough points to hinder us from acting.

Yes, the statistics don’t lie. There are a small number of African Americans on the mission field, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We as the church today, through the power of God, have an opportunity to change the tied.

To that end, here are some ways I believe those of us who minister in predominantly African American churches can address this problem.

Pray – In Mathew chapter 9, Jesus tells his disciples that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. But he then follows that jarring statement with the remedy for the problem. He tells the disciples to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out workers. If we want to see more African Americans on the mission field, our first task is to pray. The issue is not the harvest. We need to pray that God would raise up the laborers to go.

Show – God has graciously raised up some African American men and women (check here and here) who have answered the call to go. There are not many, but there are a few. Invite them to come and share their kingdom efforts with your church. But not just African Americans, invite missionaries from all ethnicities to come and share. Your goal is to expand your congregation’s vision for the nations. Most people tend to only think about their own lives and communities, and haven’t even thought about how their gifts might be used on foreign soil. Bringing in other missionaries will help to reorient their perspective.

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SOURCE: The Front Porch
Philip Duncanson