This is a guest post from Patrick Nabwera, Kenyan missionary to Mozambique:
The missionary in Africa stereotypically comes from a “better” background and context than their host community. Missionaries generally comes with more wealth, more knowledge, and better technology from “the haves to the have-nots”. Because of this, the host community often sees him as a development worker, the source of new technology and knowledge in the community, or help in the hour of need and emergency. Typically, the missionary comes to the community with much more to offer than just “preaching”; she comes with knowledge, technology, or wealth. In short, the missionary is associated with help for the community’s needs.
Based on this, the host communities expect African missionaries to fit into this model of “the standard missionary” with all the attached stereotypes. But the African missionary often does not have enough to keep him on the mission field. The paradox of the “missionary” title without the stereotypical resources creates a lot of pressure and stress. I have come across some African missionaries who always ask, “What project will I do when I get there?” (The model set by “the standard missionary”).
This is the dilemma: the African missionary comes from a background of the “have-nots to the have-nots”, yet he is being pressed into the established blueprint of “the standard missionary”.
Given this dynamic, what should the African missionary do?
Other missions posts by Patrick:
- Africa’s time for missions; responding to shifts in global Christianity
- The new face of African missions
And his series on why missionaries quit: