In the 25 years following World War II, 71 nations broke free of western domination. And with their new found freedom, most decided Western missionaries would be among the first symbols of the West to go. Now 86 nations - with more than half of the world's population - forbid or seriously restrict foreign missionaries.
But there is a bright side to the story. The effect of all this on the emerging churches of Asia has been electric. Far from slowing the Gospel, the withdrawal of foreign missionaries has freed the Gospel from Western traditions that foreign missionaries had unwittingly added to it.
Sadhu Sundar Singh, a pioneer native missionary evangelist, used to tell a sotry that illustrates the importance of presenting the Gospel in culturally acceptable terms.
A high-caste Hindu, he said, had fainted one day from the summer heat while sitting on a train in a railway station. A train employee ran to a water faucet, filled a cup with water and brought it to the man in an attempt to revive him. But in spite of his condition, the Hindu refused. He would have rather die than accept water in the cup of somenone from another caste.
Then someone noticed that the high-caste passenger had left his cup on the seat beside him. So he grabbed it, filled it with water and returned to offer it to the panting heat victim who immediately accepted the water with gratitude.
Then Sundar Singh would say to his hearers, "This is what I have been trying to say to missionaries from abroad. You have been offering the water of life to people of India in a foreign cup, and we have been slow to receive it. If you will offer it in our own cup - in an indigenous form - then we are much more likely to accept it."(K.P. Yohannan - Revolution in world missions - pag. 154)