Author: Dr Atul Aghamkar
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A Response to Sadiri Joy Tira’s "Regions Beyond"
In his very insightful article Dr Joy Tira has poured out his heart’s passion in a very appealing way. While not undermining or bypassing the traditional missionary endeavour, Dr Tira forcefully presents the challenge of redefining missionary strategy ‘Regions Beyond.’ His well-articulated critical reflection on various historical mission strategies and their perceived limitation in identifying and reaching the diaspora population is worth noting. This compels us to look at the reality of Christian missions in twenty-first century in a drastically different and new ways.
Keeping in line with the contemporary population movements, mission thinkers, strategists and practitioners will have to work hard to rethink, re-strategize, and freshly mobilize the mission force in such a way that would take the rapidly changing mission realities into consideration. This would require a dramatic paradigm shift and has a potential to revolutionize the global mission scene.
While agreeing with Dr Tira’s critique about ‘Regions Beyond’ concept, I would like to argue that we need to now think about “Regions Around.” Let me explain. Traditional missionaries and mission societies often, if not always, thought of ‘regions beyond’ out there than the mission around us. That obviously has had its glamorous appeal and benefits, but such concept and its ultimate results created a notion that unless missionaries are trained and sent, keeping in mind the regions beyond reality, the world will not be reached. Consequently, the traditional missionary era with its traditional thinking and practices is becoming more and more irrelevant if not redundant in the globalized era.
With the rapid speed of globalization, not only are people from everywhere moving to everywhere; the information, knowledge and ideas are also going regions beyond. As the process of globalization picks up the pace and the people are being pushed out of their environment to various parts of the world; we must recognize that the traditional mission fields are now moving from their traditional locations. These mission fields are not any more confined to ‘ Regions Beyond’ but they are now in regions around us. Today in the globalized era one does not necessarily cross the geographical borders to reach these so called ‘regions’ but just look around and reach them since they are all around us. People of different ethnicity, languages, religions and ideologies are congregating, moving around us; demanding a paradigm shift in our mission thinking and practice.
Dr. Atul Y. Aghamkar is from Pune, Maharashtra, where he and his wife Suman served with the Christian and Missionary Alliance of India from 1977 to 1990. Atul was instrumental in planting and pastoring churches in the cities of Pune and Nagpur. Having ministered in the urban context and exposed to the challenges and opportunities in Indian cities, Atul consciously moved into teaching ministry after completing his doctoral program in Urban Studies. He served at Union Biblical Seminary, Pune where he taught and headed the department of Missiology before joining SAIACS (Bangalore, India) in 2001. Along with teaching Missiology and Urban Studies, Atul continues to research in the area of Hindus in the Diaspora.