The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Reverse missionaries

with 12 comments

I have not watched it all, and I am not recommending all the perspectives (as usual, the commentary is awfully misguided in its assumptions and vocabulary, and I don’t know what all the ‘missionaries’ will turn out to be), but this BBC programme called Reverse Missionaries looks like it might be interesting: it is tracing the steps of three people who are apparently seeking to carry the Word of God back to the country from which it first came to theirs. It will be available for a few weeks, perhaps only in the UK.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 17 March 2012 at 08:53

12 Responses

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  1. I stumbled across what I think is the first one last night and was planning to highlight the series myself. Last nigh a Jamaican, Franklin Small, travelled to Kings Stanley in Gloucestershire where a Baptist Union congregation of 17 elderly people exists. Franklin didn’t seem to have quite the whole nine yards and was not theological at all but he was obviously a tonic to the village and the church.and the programme (despite editorial comments such as Baptists believe that by immersion the soul is cleansed of sin!) was very stimulating. Worth a critical watch. It also made me want to know more about Thomas Burchell. His neglected grave was a disgrace to see.


    Saturday 17 March 2012 at 09:16

  2. I really liked it. I thought that Franklin Small was a wonderful illustration of a man who wanted to spread the Gospel. And it illustrated a blindspot in UK evangelism: rural areas and commuter villages. Lets face it, it just isn’t as fashionable to be a pastor in a village/rural community, which means that the Gospel is quickly being forgotten in these areas. You don’t get the young hip ministers sent there (or the old solid ones for that matter). So it was nice to see someone with verve and passion come along and instill some live and God’s word.

    I don’t think that becasue the show didn’t illustrate Small as theological that he isn’t in reality: there is only so much you can present in an hour after editing etc. Also, its the BBC, they were bound to get a lot wrong and be generally patronising. But all in all, the show left me being happy to be a Christian. :-)

    ps. I am also a little worried about what the future “missionaries” are likely to be like… but Small seemed fairly sound.

    Dan F

    Saturday 17 March 2012 at 14:14

  3. To present a slightly different perspective,I am an international student, pursuing my phd, christian, from India, not a great church goer back home, but spiritual and God-fearing nonetheless, I’ve watched two of the episodes so far, although the second one was not as good. Unlike Franklin from Jamaica the pastor from Malawi had a patronising and I thought a slightly condescending attitude, especially when he approached some kids in the park and told/asked them that he will pray from them. I don’t think that is the right approach, I may be totally wrong.
    I would agree with the view that there is a lack of spirituality here especially among young people (although I am generalising from whatever little I have seen) and I don’t think anyone is to be blamed for that. I think this is the price of being developed and living in the midst of plenty. When you have everything you need and more, you tend to forget that there are others who don’t have anything. It’s when you don’t have anything that you become thankful for whatever little blessing you get.
    It’s certainly sad that more and more people are losing their faith. Young people here go all out and to have a good time every weekend, I feel very happy for them that they don’t have to worry much about the mundane details of daily needs and survival, But somehow I sense that many of them are lonely and looking for that extra something, I believe that if some of them could be given the opportunity to see for themselves how people in other (less fortunate and poorer) parts of the world suffer because they don’t have anything and everyday-life is a struggle, it will probably make them more thankful and grateful for what they have. I remember the song – count your blessings name them one by one… and how happily it is sung by people back home who have nothing compared to what people have here. My experience here so far has been an eyeopener and it has given me the resolve to count my blessings and see what the Lord has done.


    Sunday 25 March 2012 at 22:45

  4. Great programs, lovely to see


    Tuesday 27 March 2012 at 15:15

  5. Great to learn about the lives of the first missionaries that went out to those countries and great to see how one person can make a difference back. Even though both times the church where the reverse missionaries visited were a bit sceptical, the pastors enthusiasm and love for people and the Word of God was infectious (even if sometimes a bit awkward they were not afraid to step out (though they definately stood out (culturally!!)


    Tuesday 27 March 2012 at 15:22

  6. I missed the first few programmes but really enjoyed tonight’s on the missionary from India coming her to trace the steps of Amy Carmichael and to bring fresh ideas as to how to reach people over here.


    Friday 30 March 2012 at 21:10

  7. Isn’t it somewhat bewildering that the “omnipotent saviour” needs saving by these mere mortals. Indeed he has a “plan for everyone”, only that his plan for you might be one for a life of misery- drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, unemployment etc, unless and until you start going to church regularly and sing his praises hysterically! Praise the lord!


    Friday 30 March 2012 at 22:31

    • To the anonymous writer who wrote just before me, you’ve made a good point. However, God’s plan is more complex than that – yes he is completely in control, but we also have total free will and our decisions are ours. It seems contradictory, but when you think about it, it makes sense – it’s not God’s will that we sin, yet when we do (because we have made a decision to) it’s for a real purpose, which we may not understand until later on, looking back. There are some who can explain this brilliantly, and while I’ve given my best shot I don’t think I’m one of them! But I hope you get what I’m trying to say.
      As for the former point, one thing I was really struck by while watching this programme was the incredible enthusiasm and fulfilment that the missionaries had for the Gospel, because they had the omnipotent saviour that you’re talking about – he completely transformed their lives. And in terms of the work they’re doing, there’s only so far that us mere mortals can go. It is God who speaks to people’s hearts, and that is something that humans alone cannot do.


      Sunday 1 April 2012 at 16:07

    • Gods plan is never to inflict misery, we unfortunately inflict it on ourselves when we make wrong choices, however, how ever down hill we go, nothing and no-one is irredeemable. His plan is to give us a hope and a future and He can use every experience in our lives (good or bad) to reach out to others. Like you say, praise the Lord, indeed!!


      Saturday 7 April 2012 at 23:14

  8. great and encouraging programmes


    Monday 2 April 2012 at 20:01

  9. 15% of people in this country go to church at least once a month. I enjoyed these programs. Why have we only got one regular Christian program.


    Tuesday 3 April 2012 at 13:50

  10. Although slightly patronising (on what basis are the Reverse Missionaries any more “idealistic” than the BBC’s favourite atheist, Richard Dawkins?); it was a breath of fresh air to see an overall positive representation of Christianity on the BBC for a change. Given that 15% of Britons attend church at least once a month and 58% describe themselves as Christians, only 1% of the population describes themselves as homosexual/ lesbian and only 2% call themselves Muslims – why are these agendas so heavily pushed by the BBC and Christianity so mocked, ridiculed and generally undermined.
    These programs were a great start, but the BBC has a long way to go – let’s see programmes on the impact of Christians on our society, the heavy involvement of Christians throughout the community, why well-paid professional Christians are frequently prepared to walk away from high-flying careers to spend their lives in obscurity, programmes on why non-churchgoers still look to the church to offer succour when tragedy occurs, even programmes on the committed Christians who are Members of Parliament and how the one faith can so strongly propel politicians to the left, to the right and to the centre.

    Simon Carter

    Tuesday 10 April 2012 at 12:46

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