Missiologists have long fretted over the small percentage of African-Americans currently involved in the World Christian movement. For example, only 27 of the over 4,000 missionaries in the Southern Baptist Convention are African-American.
Or one could focus on the small financial contributions to world missions by African-American congregations (forgetting for a moment the shameful record of predominately white congregations when it comes to missions giving). Take the African Methodist-Episcopal Church. This denomination gives $250,000 annually to global missions in spite of having 3 ½ million members and 8,000 congregations. That works out to 8 cents per member or $31 per congregation.
Those facts (obtained from African-American pastor, Thabiti Anyabwile) are indisputable, though the reasons behind these statistics are complex.
Writing in “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader,” David Cornelius argues that an absence of African-Americans in missions should not necessarily be attributed to disinterest in missions. He goes on to catalogue the remarkable activities of American slaves in early American history who, against great odds, achieved extraordinarily in the work of missions. Other authors have also taken finger to keyboard to expand on Cornelius’ list.
But progress is happening on this front. One recent encouraging development has been the establishment in 2014 of NAAMC (National African-American Missions Conference; go to http://www.thenaamc.org/ for complete details.) Due to the missions vision and dedicated efforts of David Perrin, this conference emerged as one of the key tools of the Church for the mobilization of the African-American community to a vision for reaching the nations.
Bishop Perrin is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Gordon-Cornwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA, (M.T.S.), and has done doctoral work at the Howard University School of Communications (A.B.D), Washington, DC. He is presently the Senior Pastor of Christ Kingdom Church of District Heights, Maryland.
June 21-23, 2018, will mark the fifth consecutive year that the NAAMC conference will have been held at the facilities of McLean Bible Church (8925 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA). The theme this year is “The Power of Partnerships” and the plenary speakers include Karen Ellis, Bobby Gupta, and George Verwer.
In 2013, while Bishop Perrin was dreaming about the first NAAMC conference, another African-American with a passion for the nations, Bonnie Adams of Lynchburg, VA, was also responding to a strong sense of calling. The emergence of “Fishers of Men” (https://www.fishersofmeninc.org/) was Bonnie’s response to her strong passion for reaching the nations.
Bonnie obediently answered God’s call to apply her understanding of the biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic perspectives on missions by forming Fishers of Men, Inc., a non-profit missionary sending organization focused on mobilizing African-Americans for world missions. Its mission is to facilitate an indigenous, self-replicating, church-planting movement among unreached, unengaged people groups around the world where Christ is not known by committing financial, educational, and practical support to missionaries and mission agencies.
Bonnie even owns a B & B in downtown Lynchburg. “Lydia House” provides a platform for Bonnie to not only provide for personal income but for hosting visitors who are engaged in mobilizing African-Americans missions.
Recent developments in the mobilization of African-Americans and African-American churches are incredibly encouraging. A fresh momentum for reaching the nations among any demographic segment of the Church is God’s answer to the prayers of Jesus’ disciples who “pray to the Lord of the harvest to raise up laborers for the harvest” (Mt. 9:38).