“More and more, local missionaries are driving ministry projects in their own countries and transforming their own communities,” said K.P. Yohannan (Metropolitan Yohan), founder of global mission organization GFA World.
According to GFA World’s new report, National Workers: Unstoppable Compassion Force, there’s a natural progression toward “indigenous” workers who understand their own culture, language, and neighbours far better than foreign missionaries.
In 2021, there were 430,000 foreign “expat” mission workers overseas, compared with 13.2 million national missionaries serving on their home soil, the report says.
National Workers ‘Far Less Costly’
National workers also serve in their own countries at far less expense -- and with fewer restrictions -- than expat Western workers who often incur costs associated with emergency medical insurance, security, and immigration, as well as safety restrictions on movement, says GFA World.
It can cost between $50,000-$120,000 a year to support a North American family in a developing nation -- an annual sum that could help support 50 national workers.
“National workers live at the same level as the local people,” Yohannan said, “working alongside them, living among them in the villages and slums, dressing the same, speaking the same language, eating the same food, drinking from the same well.”
Today, 80% of the world’s countries are either completely closed or severely restricted to foreigners doing any form of religious work -- Afghanistan being one example..
“Then again,” Yohannan said, “no matter what closed doors, restrictions or financial costs might be, God still calls his people to evangelize, to go, and send missionaries to preach the gospel and fulfill the Great Commission.”
Most Needy Places on Earth
GFA World’s national workers run projects in more than 12,000 parishes -- or local churches -- across Asia. And the organization is expanding into Africa as well.
Its workers complete a three-year training period before they venture full-time into some of the most needy places on earth, bringing clean drinking water through “Jesus Wells,” launching children’s education and health projects, helping poor families generate income, and sharing God’s love.
In South Asia, mission worker Rainer prayed for two years for a bicycle so he could encourage and help a cluster of villages 14 kilometres from his home. Now his bicycle has become the local “ambulance,” transporting sick villagers to the nearest clinic.
GFA World’s Sisters of Compassion -- teams of specialized women missionaries who serve in leprosy colonies -- are uniquely trained in care and counselling. Geeta and her local co-workers clean the wounds of leprosy patients and wash their deformed feet.
“We do all this because of the love of God,” Geeta said.