I kept running into a book entitled Revolution in World Missions: One Man’s Journey to Change a Generation by K.P. Yohannan. This book seemed to follow me from one bookstore to the next and insist that I bring it home, and I’m glad I ultimately did.
From the title I assumed it was one man’s journey to change a generation of people who had never heard the gospel of Christianity, and that assumption was partly correct. I’ve read biographies of missionaries and found them inspiring, but already had some biographies at home I hadn’t read yet, so I wasn’t going to buy another one. But when about twenty copies of this book were stacked near the cash register of a book store and offered for free, I took one, intending to give it away or donate it somewhere.
Before donating Revolution in World Missions, however, I decided to read a bit. But after reading the first few chapters describing K.P. Yohannan’s drive to share his faith among his people, and his culture shock at experiencing Western values and churches, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.
I now know that this book is also about one man’s journey to change a generation of Christians who have been numbed into inactivity by their own ignorance and their wealthy, comfortable culture. Hopefully, it will lead us out of our often purposeless and restless lives back to our commission to share the gospel.
In the first part of the book, the author describes seeing Americans taking wealth for granted, and being alarmed at how misplaced the spiritual values of believers were. He immediately sensed the awesome judgment that was hanging over this country (my beloved native land!), at the same time as he marveled at the supply of fresh water, electrical power, telephones and paved roads.
He was surprised at how Americans seemed to need noise and to be entertained, and how important eating and drinking and large church buildings were. After being given an offering at a church, he was horrified to see that the food and fellowship that followed cost more than the money that had just been donated to missions. His perspective was similar to my own growing discomfort with this disparity, and I felt a kindred spirit.
Yohannan went on to note that religion is a multi-billion dollar business in the U.S. and his experience with American churches and Christian media showed him how much time and money are spent on activities unrelated to Christianity. He quotes statistics that 80% of the world’s people have never owned a Bible, while Americans have an average of four in every household, and that only a tiny 0.1% of all Christian radio and television programming is directed toward the unevangelized world. Most religious media, he says, is “entertainment for the saints.” He found a church in spiritual decline, yet knows that God wants His Church to recover its moral mandate and sense of mission.
He quotes C.S. Lewis as saying, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this [hell]. I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully, ‘All will be saved’.” Yet the scriptures say otherwise, therefore, the author says, the Christian mandate to share the life- and world-changing gospel needs to be a priority over the “social gospel”—social work that meets only the physical needs of a culture.
Yohannan believes that God has called him to the West to bring awareness of the needs of his countrymen in India, and find “senders” to pray for and finance the nationals who carry the gospel to their own neighbors. Of all the author’s surprising statistics, this one had the most impact on me: it costs between $40,000 and $80,000 per year to support a Western missionary on the mission field. Yet in India, for only the cost of the flight from New York to Mumbai, a national missionary can work for years!
I admire the honesty and integrity of this man enough to put my money where my mouth is by contributing to the organization which he founded, Gospel for Asia, which sends 100% of donations to the work of the gospel. I recommend this book to anyone who recognizes the spiritual and physical needs of the many peoples in the world, and believes that the message of Jesus Christ is the answer to those needs.
If you want a free copy of this book, the GFA website offers Revolution in World Missions and also many other free resources and valuable information. For the printed book, go here. For the electronic book, go here.]