Turning the Tables on Mission is a compilation of the testimonies of several "reverse-missionaries" from South America, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, detailing their journey in obedience to God's call to mission in the UK. It is aimed at those who wish to understand more about cross-cultural mission, and those who are pastoring churches in the UK with the aim of making them multicultural.
The stories are thought-provoking and mix personal testimony with information, church history, advice and even humour. The accounts bring to light some of the most common challenges faced by cross-cultural missionaries, and include practical advice regarding mission, how to do mission, and how to send missionaries. At the end of each testimony there is a short Reflections section, which leads us to question and apply some of the common themes, and aims to answer the "so what?" questions that may arise while reading each part.
Revelations of Western church can be seen throughout the pages, things that are more difficult for Brits to notice - and it inspires humility in the face of arrogance among UK churches alongside a willingness to learn from other cultures. It shows how preachers too must learn from different cultural interpretations and highlights how culture can have a great impact on theology and beliefs. This has an impact too on evangelism, as we begin to develop a cultural awareness of foreign traditions, and the translatability of Christ's gospel to other cultures and religions.
There are also fundraising stories, ideas and advice, and encouragement to use what God's given, for mission. We are reminded too that not all mission follows the conventional route of mission agencies and being sent by a church - we see individuals being sent and provided for simply by God. And the assumption that foreigners all come to the UK for economic stability and comfort is very much challenged, as we see people with good jobs and in a place they love, being prompted by God to move out of that comfort zone and put themselves at risk of losing everything by moving to the UK for mission. The writers are not afraid of telling it how it is, which makes the book both challenging and very entertaining in places!
The book leads readers to a position of deeper faith and obedience to God's call, showing God's glory displayed in seemingly impossible situations, but it also poses many questions to challenge people out of their comfort zones - such as whether it's best to combine different cultures within church services at risk of offending some but in an attempt to create a multicultural church out of a multiethnic church, or to keep the cultures separate and create single-culture services to preserve the dignity and traditions of different cultures in their fullness.
In reading this book we are challenged to create UK "church" in a way that's accessible and welcoming to those of other cultures, stepping outside of British ignorance and the arrogant viewpoint that other cultures must learn from us but that we have nothing to learn from them. At the end of the book the editor, Israel Olofinjana, outlines several key ideas that we can and should apply in practical ways in our UK churches.