Missions work is complicated. It always has been. I think it is more so today because of the rapid change in the world around us.
I have already introduced you to Asial Ruda. I enjoyed getting to know him while I was in Palau. Like me, he was visiting there for Gospel Day. Though he is Chuukese, and ministers in Yap, for a number of reasons--involvement with Liebenzell Mission, being a graduate of PIBC (Or as it was known when he graduated, Micronesian Instutute of Biblical Studies), etc.--he has a number of connections to the church in Palau. Over a couple of meals that we shared together, Asial shared with me about some of the changes that have taken place in his Island state. Asial is still in his 40s. He told me that when he first went to Yap it was common for people to show up at church functions wearing grass skirts. When there was a meal at their meeting place, many people would bring food wrapped in leaves. No more. Now it is Western clothing and Tupper-ware. Former Missionary on Palau, Bill Schuit, told how when he was there, boats were the primary means of transportation, now roads and bridges have changed life so that one local told him that only tourists and fishermen use boats now.
In the West, we have been dealing with negative culture for decades and we still aren't doing as well as we would like. There is no gradual change in these Islands on the other side of the world. When satellite TV comes, it all comes. When Internet access arrives, everything can be accessed.
Missionaries, pastors and other Christians workers are constantly trying to hit a moving target. "Let's see what is the status of the culture of the people I'm trying to reach, today?"
My conclusion is that in a place like Micronesia, where there is a substantial church already in existence--flawed, but in many places, and ways, basically sound--that our best chance is to help train a generation of indigenous Christian-leaders, who can bring the changeless truth of scripture to their rapidly changing world.
Again, I welcome your comments.
Check out my friend, Dave Owen's blog for some more pictures and reports. http://owensonguam.com/