Chapter 26: Why Western-based, Pentecostal mission organizations undertake community development in South East Asia
There are as many as 524 million Pentecostal/Charismatic believers globally, representing just over a quarter of all professing Christians (Barrett et al., 2001, p. 4). The global Pentecostal movement was founded a century ago as a missionary movement with a strong emphasis on evangelism and reaction against what they saw as liberal Christianity’s abandonment of evangelism for social justice action. Pentecostals have always been strong on providing practical assistance to people around them in need, yet this has largely been ad hoc and seen as an aspect of Christian moral responsibility rather than being considered an aspect of legitimate Christian mission, which has been exclusively focused on evangelism. This research stems from personal observations and anecdotal evidence that Westernbased, Pentecostal mission organizations working in mainland South East Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Burma/Myanmar) have shifted the emphasis of their activities over the last two decades, to increasingly become involved in community development, social justice and practical assistance alongside more traditional Pentecostal mission emphases of evangelism, starting new churches and training leaders for those churches.
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