In recent headlining news, we all learned of a Christian missionary who was murdered on an island, and as of yet, no viable options to retrieve his body have arisen. Although this island is supposed to be unapproachable by anyone, he was able to convince (read: bribe) fishermen from nearby islands to bring him close enough to kayak the rest of the way on his own.
The missionary, John Allen Chau, was quite aware of the impossibility of surviving his chosen task. North Sentinel Island is commonly known in that area as being extraordinarily reclusive, with its inhabitants killing anyone who dares try to infiltrate their land. Chau had posted on social media that he felt the risk was worth it to try to introduce Christianity to the island’s indigenous residents, but he also said, “God, I don’t want to die.”
Persecution of Christians in some other countries is a very real thing, that can be remarkably dangerous, and often, life-threatening. in North Korea, Christians are designated to “labor camps.” Some countries, such as Eritrea and Sudan, persecution is most often limited to harassment and shunning. But other countries, including Pakistan and Libya, being a Christian means facing an almost certain death.
Why, then, are so many Christians traveling from Western nations into hostile regions in order to preach the “Word of God”? Why assume that level of risk? According to The Bible, Mark 16:15, Christ calls upon His followers to go out into the world, and spread His gospel. These missionaries believe that they’ve been explicitly called upon to traverse the globe, sharing stories of Christ, teaching The Bible, and ultimately, converting people.
In the eyes of many, it appears that what they’re doing is brave, kind, righteous. But for me? It’s arrogant, foolish, and off-putting. Let me explain. Time to get personal for a moment.
My stepsister currently lives in China, as a Christian missionary; more specifically, a Baptist missionary. She also teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to Chinese children. China isn’t exactly religion-friendly, as it doesn’t fall in line with the concept of their Communist regime, so many “churches” are in the homes of individuals, and kept out of the public eye.
Very recently, my stepsister was detained by police, with her passport being confiscated, and she was being heavily pressured to sign a document in Chinese. She wasn’t able to read it, nor was she told what it said. SPOILER ALERT: if you’ve ever seen “Brokedown Palace” starring Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale, you have some concept of how dangerous it can be to sign such a document. She refused to sign, and was eventually released, but told that she’d most likely have to leave the country, permanently. Mind you, the head pastor of their “church” had also been deported shortly prior to this happening.
Of course, our family was wracked with worry and concern, but along with those feelings, I was also struck by the arrogance of it all. The audacity of Christian missionaries to travel to other countries and try to compel people to follow Christ as they do, even when it means possibly risking the freedom and even the lives of not only themselves, but of every single person they’ve been able to convert.
Imagine that we’re discussing any other belief system, religious or otherwise. Do you think white Christian Americans would be so supportive of Muslim missionaries? I’ll give you a hint. The answer is NO. At the risk of over-simplifying things, we’ve even fought wars over that very thing. For a country that claims to be so gung-ho about religious freedom, we certainly don’t seem to practice what we preach. But I digress.
Christianity and white colonizers go hand in hand; they’re essentially the same thing. We somehow think it’s a good thing for white Christians to invade the countries and lives of people, and impress upon them how “wrong” and “backwards” their lives have been. Now, I don’t mean to criticize legitimate humanitarian missions, such as bringing food and water, building homes and schools, etcetera. But treating people from other nations as some sort of captive audience upon whom to force your way of life, culture, and believe systems, well, that’s abusive and destructive.
On top of damaging individuals, permanently altering the dynamics in a specific culture, risking the freedom and lives of the residents where missionary work is being done, there’s also infighting amongst the missionaries. You can’t be the “wrong” type of Christian. Apparently, the Word of God is only acceptable coming from group A, instead of Group B. Honestly, I’d roll my eyes at all of this if it weren’t so aggressively ruinous.
I know I’ve been a bit all over the place in this writing. It’s not as cohesive as I’d have liked, and it ended up being nothing more than a rambling vent sesh. Nonetheless, the point stands: Christian missionaries are arrogant when they’re called upon to be humble. They’re demanding when they’re called upon to be accommodating. They’re forceful when they’re called upon to be meek.
What would Jesus do? I’m honestly not sure, but I do know it damn sure isn’t this. What do you think? Do you feel that Christian missionaries are arrogant and destructive, or do are they philanthropic and humanitarian?