African-American churches have a strong potential for missions work
African-American churches in the United States possess an enormous potential to have a huge impact on global evangelism, a Christian minister said recently.
Richard Coleman, a director for The Mission Society said that African-American churches have a potential to spread the gospel that has long been underutilized, Religion News reported.
“When you look at black history, there’s a lot of suffering,” Coleman told Religion News Service. “People around the world have heard that story and have seen the overcoming of struggles. Black churches have a message of encouragement for the world.”
Coleman said another strength of African-American churches is their gospel choirs. He told Religion News Service, “If you look at Poland, Japan, Sweden, black gospel music is very popular and a great tool to share the gospel.”
However, this vast potential remains untapped. A 2007 African American Missions Mobilization Manifesto that was issued by Columbia International University noted that less than one percent of the total 118,600 U.S. missionaries are black, the Christian Post reported.
Coleman told the Christian Post that his own experience reflected the statistics. As a student at Oral Roberts University he first joined missions when he was 19. He noticed that every summer the school would send some 200 to 300 students on missions, only a handful of whom were black, the Christian Post said.
Coleman said that black churches have a different set of concerns, and are living under unique circumstances. For example, church members are burdened with utility bills, food and other needs that most churches do not have to worry about as much. For this reason, church members focus more on helping each other out, Religious News Service said.
Coleman told the Christian Post, “Just think of the number of hurting people at a black church who have lost their jobs or can’t get a job and they usually turn to the church for help, and the church is paying light bills and that kind of stuff. You kind of reason ‘why would I give money to these people overseas who I don’t know when people among me are hurting.'”
Another reason Coleman cites is a lack of understanding of missions. He told Religion News Service, “When some blacks think of missionaries, they think of the older ladies who wear white dresses and visit the sick.”
A third reason Colman mentions is that African-American churches often place extra emphasis on personal wealth and tend to impart a fear of the unknown and a hesitation to leave one’s comfort zone, Religion News Service reported.
Coleman said African-American churches can get more involved in missionary work if they partner with other churches with ongoing mission programs that have a track record of success, Religion News Service said.
They can also spend more time praying about going into missionary work. “Spend time and ask God: ‘In what communities and groups would you have us be involved?'” he told Religion News Service.
Coleman has been with The Mission Society since 2006. The Society has a wide range of programs that include well-drilling, the arts, teaching English and church planting, among others, Religion News Service said.
Before joining the Society, Coleman went on short-term mission trips to many countries including Kenya, Canada, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, Religion News Service said.