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September 18th, 2013

Missionaries coming to the UK? ‘Turning the Tables on Mission’!


 A new book containing stories of missionaries from the Global South in the United Kingdom explores the changing face of Christianity in the contemporary UK.

Turning the Tables on Mission documents the contemporary experience of missionaries coming to the UK from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The candid personal accounts contain a strong sense of calling and challenge common misunderstandings as to the missionaries’ reasons for coming. They face painful culture clashes which demand new ways of thinking, both in them and the British ‘indigene’ Christians they are seeking to work with.

Dr Joel Cabrita, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Cambridge, comments, ‘The influential role of Christians from the global south is proving to be one of the most significant and transformative elements in the British religious landscape. We are increasingly observing a transformation within British Christianity, rather than merely a foreign addition to it.’

The book, a first of its kind, includes contributions from significant leaders such as Dr Ram Gidoomal (one of the founders of South Asian Concern), Rev Joel Edwards (International Director of Micah Challenge and former Director of the Evangelical Alliance), Dr Jonathan Oloyede (convener of National Day of Prayer) and Bishop Donnett Thomas (Chair of Churches Together in South London).

The book engages with the question whether ‘reverse mission’ is mostly rhetoric and shows that in fact these missionaries are actually reaching the indigenous people of the UK as well recent immigrant communities. The book also aims to further the understanding of Christians across cultures, and, hopefully, help those newly arriving from the Global South in their cross-cultural mission.  It is therefore a unique compilation well worth reading, particularly for those involved in multicultural ministry.

‘This historic development in the British church scene possesses many admirable new initiatives. On the other hand, there is also much naivety, among both incomers who do not understand the British context, and indigenous leaders who unrealistically see this as the solution to dwindling congregations. Israel Olofinjana’s careful evaluative comments enables us to avoid falling prey to over-optimistic illusions, but without giving up hope for God’s future move in revival in the United Kingdom,’ according to Rev Dr Steve Latham, Spurgeon’s College

Israel Olofinjana, editor of the book, came to the UK in 2004 as a missionary. He joined a British Historic Church in order to understand the culture he had come to but other missionaries started their own churches, often linked with established British congregations, demonstrating the creative, fluid nature of their missional endeavours. ‘The emergence and growth of these churches has led to new academic disciplines in British Universities, such as immigration studies, empire studies, diaspora studies, African studies, Caribbean studies, post-colonial discourses and world or global Christianity,’ says Rev Olofinjana.

‘This book is a resource for the British Church that can facilitate an understanding of Christians from other cultures. It will also be of interest to scholars of the discourse of religion in diaspora.’


Turning the Tables on Mission. Stories of Christians from the Global South in the UK is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats:

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