This is an article from the April-June 1999 issue: Strategic Partnerships



What Color is a Missionary?

I have been hesitant to give MF out to my students because of what it subtly communicates. In almost all cases, you have pictures portraying white people as the missionaries and non-white people as the "being reached out to." This communicates a strong message to my students that they are not apart of the sending population even though they are deeply following Jesus. For many North American mission agencies this is a major blind spot. I do believe we would have more minority students on the field if there was more sensitivity in recruiting materials.

Collin Tomikawa
Harvard-Radcliffe IVCF Asian American Christian Fellowship

Don't miss "Dreams Move Toward Reality in Africa" and the YWAM story. In a future issue we will feature the history of African American missionaries.


Great thoughts. In honor of the truth it should be said that the love of money is the root of all evil, that money is loved by westerners and nationals alike, and that both of them get corrupted by it. Since money does not provide an answer to a false dichotomymoney or workersmaybe you could start future articles not beating a dead horse, but illustrating with models where this potentiallyand oftenbadly handled mix has been properly handled.

Carlos Calderon

I picked up the August '99 issue of MF, and the first article that caught my eye was "Should We Stop Sending Missionaries?" (pg. 38-41). It's contents was such an answer to prayer! Less than a week ago I was in a "debate" with my uncle on that very subject.

My uncle feels that our money could be more wisely spent on national worker versus a US missionary. The discussion came to the point where I felt pinned in a corner, I knew he must be wrong, but I was out of arguments. Your article helped me come to grips with why it is important for us to continue to send out missionaries. I am planning to pass this article on to my uncle. Thank you for your bold stand!

The Lord's Handmaid,
Karyn Ballmann

Clarifying Ramadan

In your article about women and ministry to Muslims [Aug. '99, pg. 28] there was an inaccurate statement. Ramadan is scheduled according to a lunar calendar. Therefore over a 33-year cycle will begin during every month of the year. During the next several years we will see it start during fall not the winter suggested by the Dec. 20-Jan. 18 dates.

Joseph Miranda

Thank you for your astute observation. The Islamic calender consists of 12 months, with the start of each month beginning at the sight of a new moon, so that each month is 29 or 30 days and the span of a year is 354 days. Thus, in relation to the Roman calender of 365 days, the Islamic months occur a little earlier each year. Over 32.5 years, Ramadan, the ninth Islamic month, will occur in every season. In the United States this year, Ramadan will be observed from December 8, 1999 to January 6, 2000. There may be some variation in other parts of the world. For Muslims, Ramadan is a holy month of fasting. For Christians, it is a great time to pray for Muslims.

Women and Missions

I have been reading the MF issue that focuses on women and missions (Aug. '99). I am impressed by the articles. I am the missions director for our denomination, the Evangelical Mennonite Conference. I have seen the important role of women in missions. Through our 15 years in cross-cultural ministry in Nicaragua, my wife Darlene and other women, some single, were used by God, in extending the kingdom of God in that country. If you still have extra copies, please send me some.

Lester Olfert
EMC Board of Missions

I want to commend you on your current edition featuring women in missions. As Missions Director of my church, I was greatly blessed and am passing the articles along to women in our missions fellowship. Very encouraging, inspiring and enlightening. Thanks.


Thanks for Ralph Winter's editorial. It's great that he champions women in Christian service. I appreciate what Ralph wrote and in no way want to demean it. However, I do want to point out one concept that seems difficult to stamp out, even in those upholding women in missions. That is, the diehard concept that men are the real missionaries. Let me quote Ralph, "(I am the) father of four neat girls (no boys) all of whom are now marvelous missionary wives."

Why are his daughters "missionary wives" and not "missionaries"? If he had been the father of four sons, would he have referred to them as "missionary husbands"? Does his daughters' marital status preclude them from being bona fide missionaries?


You are absolutely right. In Europe the wives of missionaries are often not even counted when the total number of missionaries being sent out by an agency is reported! Only in America has it been radically different.

I could have said that all of my daughters were (simply) missionaries. I certainly did not say they were merely "married to missionaries." And I wanted to convey that they were also married. Missionary wives who aren't real missionaries often pull the whole family off the field, and among American missionaries (in mission societies formed in the half century after the Civil War--in a period when European Teutonic perspectives had not again flooded into this country yet so much) wives normally are treated quite equally, that is, given an equal vote in mission business, assignments independent of their husbands, etc.

Even more tragic than what you point out is the back-home assumption that single women can't be extremely effective as missionaries. It is no exaggeration to claim (against all popular, secular understanding) that if it were not for the phenomenal surge of American women in missions in the few decades following the Civil War, world history would be quite different and greatly at a loss. American missionary womenand especially single womenare the major players in that piece of history and provided a more strategic impact than any other event in the entire history of missions. -R. Winter

We appreciate your letters.
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