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Cape Town 2010 Advance Paper

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Poverty And Wealth

Author: Corina Villacorta and Harold Segura
Date: 20.07.2010
Category: Poverty and Wealth

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Originally Posted in English

Editor’s Note: This Cape Town 2010 Advance Paper has been written by Corina Villacorta and Harold Segura as an overview of the topic to be discussed at the Multiplex session on “Wealth, Poverty and Power: Effectively Responding through the Global and Local Church.” Responses to this paper through the Lausanne Global Conversation will be fed back to the authors and others to help shape their final presentations at the Congress.

Mission and “signs of the times"

The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization is being convened at the close of the first decade of the twenty-first century, marking the first centennial celebration of the historic 1910 World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh. The choice of Cape Town as the venue for the meeting also has profound historical significance. It was in Cape Town in 1810 that William Carey, quite understandably referred to as the “Father of Modern Missions”, first advocated holding an international missionary conference.

Thus, both the year and the venue of our meeting highlight the importance of world missions and the urgency of the task of world evangelisation. Within this context and to contribute to the legacy of missionary vision, we bring the desire to renew our commitments to God and to the tasks He has entrusted to us. This conference provides an exercise in discernment during which we must look to the past to assess and appreciate what has been accomplished, acknowledge the present, teeming with challenges, and prepare ourselves to engage the future with a renewed vision of what the Lord and master of the mission requires of us.

“What does God require of us?” (Micah 6:6-8) and “What task has he assigned us to do?” (Acts 9:6) are two inevitable missionary questions that face us.  At the first meeting in Lausanne in 1974 (seemingly the remote past), the final Declaration asserted that “Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand”.

The two basic criteria included in that declaration still guide us as we discern intrinsic qualities that shape our missionary work: incarnational presence and compassionate dialogue. These criteria require us to examine our world through the lens Jesus used in his ministry. He interpreted “the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:1-3) and, from that perspective, he acknowledged the world’s sorrows and responded to them according to the will of His Father. The Master’s mission developed through deep engagement with the world in which He lived. He encountered, together with the Father, the sorrows of the world in light of its needs, and applied the healing and controversial balm of kingdom values to the world’s situations.  His responses were consistent with the merciful will of the Father who sent him to “seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Seeing the world clearly and ‘showing up’ in the very midst of its anguish and fears is integral to our witness of faith. How can we discuss holistic evangelisation without first acknowledging the world’s sorrows, sorrows that are increasing exponentially every day?  We cannot ignore the fact that while scientific progress, technological breakthroughs and achievements in other fields of knowledge are astonishing, the rate of poverty, exploitation and social exclusion is rising at an alarming rate. Additionally, while the accumulation of wealth by individuals and large corporations is unprecedented in modern times, the magnitude of poverty and inequality that millions of people experience today continues to be unacceptable and appalling. 

Keywords: Poverty, wealth, kingdom, evangelisation, injustice, Manila Manifesto, social responsibility, gospel, accumulation, environment, consumerism, Millennium Development Goals, collaboration, churches

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PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Julia_L (4)  
Canada

Well done.

I think there is a problem outside of the very obvious one of how the evangelical church in the west pays a lot of lip service to caring for the poor, but does little else than have a "sandwich run" activity for the youth. (Uh, like my own church).

The radical change in mindset of Western Christians is called for. The economics of God, where there should be no poor, where wealth is redistributed on a regular basis (every fifty years or so), where all were together and no one was in need, has been neglected not only in our individual churches, but quite clearly in North American society as a whole (which is ironic, as both post-colonial, post-aboriginal Canada and the USA are cliched as based on a Judeo-Christian backgroun).

The other major thing, however, that is even more neglected in Christian thought is that of how to look at the macro picture. THat is probably not clear: Christians in ministry have generally been very awesome at dealing with the microlevel of things - we give one person medicine or their own bible, we help one village improve their water supply, we translate one bible in the language of one people group, we rescue a dozen girls from one brothel, we help develop a viable microfinance project for one province in one country.

However, we rarely are engaged on the national or international level, dealing with infrastructure/policy/governmental levels of change. We rescue one slave at a time in one country, but fail to advocate for national regulatory change so that none are slaves. We rehydrate malnourished children in the Global South, but don’t look at the issues that cause malnourishment, including water sanitation infrastructure or land distribution or international trade policies that block self-sufficient farming. We treat rape victims from a local refugee camp in a local hospital, but we don’t look at the security measures, safe toilet facilities or other infrastructure that would help prevent the violations, etc. It’s like mopping up the floor when it’s the faucet in the sink that is overflowing.

I know some people would think getting involved in policy or with governments starts compromising our position, and it is true - it can be quite risky with even being able to stay in the country and continue to work, however, if most of our perspective (even if it was the proper perspective of how to justly deal with global poverty) is still a ’downstream’ perspective - I think the Church also needs to start thinking seriously about ’upstream’ problems as well.


27.08.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Valerie_Anderson (2)  
South Africa
@ Julia_L:

Thanks, Julia. This micro-macro split is something a lot of us are struggling with and there has been some discussion on an article "Strategy in Context" http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/conversations/detail/10077


 


I suspect that one the greatest downfalls in church history has been the church-state divide - I don’t know the history of how we ended up in this place but I believe that Christians, through the church, must be intricately and creatively and intentionally involved in every sphere of human society: politics, the arts, medicine, education, culture...etc.


21.09.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down tjcooper (0)
United States
@ Julia_L:

I think you are exactly right in that we need to learn how to rip the problems out by their very root! It’s not an easy task but with the support of each other, it can be done. 


I’ve always loved the biblical story of the year of jubilee...when debts were cancelled, slaves and prisoners set free. We need to find ways to create this jubliee in our world.



28.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ministerios_SIGA (1)
Costa Rica
@ tjcooper:

The Year of Jubilee was/is such a radical concept! It reminds me of when Jesus said (quoting Isaiah) that he came to preach Good News to the poor, the blind, and the oppressed. What would be Good News to them would not be perceived as such by others. Those who have to stop oppressing, for instance, would know that it was bad news for them. Once Jesus explained to them what he meant (the Bible in that particular instance doesn’t give us details of what he said--leaving us to interpret for ourselves), they tried to throw him off a cliff!


The Sabbath--a rest for all, even slaves and donkeys--every seven days is equally radical, even if its radicality is not so obviously visible as it is in the case of returning property and cancelling debts. Instead of a day to go eat at a restaurant and go home and watch football or cook burgers on the grill, it is a day that represents how God intended creation to be. All equal, all worshiping Him, no one person superior to or exerting power over another. Observing the Sabbath in this sense would remind the "oppressed" and the "oppressor" alike that the way the world is today is not how God wants the world to be. And it is our job to do something about it!


Somehow we have, in the evangelical community, relegated the Sabbath to one of those old Jewish legalistic laws that we don’t need to pay attention to, provided we put our hour in on the pew on Sunday morning. But just imagine if we actually took the Sabbath commands to heart! Not by creating more Blue Laws, but by living its principles. I like to dream about that.


29.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ministerios_SIGA (1)
Costa Rica
@ tjcooper:

The Year of Jubilee was/is such a radical concept! It reminds me of when Jesus said (quoting Isaiah) that he came to preach Good News to the poor, the blind, and the oppressed. What would be Good News to them would not be perceived as such by others. Those who have to stop oppressing, for instance, would know that it was bad news for them. Once Jesus explained to them what he meant (the Bible in that particular instance doesn’t give us details of what he said--leaving us to interpret for ourselves), they tried to throw him off a cliff!


The Sabbath--a rest for all, even slaves and donkeys--every seven days is equally radical, even if its radicality is not so obviously visible as it is in the case of returning property and cancelling debts. Instead of a day to go eat at a restaurant and go home and watch football or cook burgers on the grill, it is a day that represents how God intended creation to be. All equal, all worshiping Him, no one person superior to or exerting power over another. Observing the Sabbath in this sense would remind the "oppressed" and the "oppressor" alike that the way the world is today is not how God wants the world to be. And it is our job to do something about it!


Somehow we have, in the evangelical community, relegated the Sabbath to one of those old Jewish legalistic laws that we don’t need to pay attention to, provided we put our hour in on the pew on Sunday morning. But just imagine if we actually took the Sabbath commands to heart! Not by creating more Blue Laws, but by living its principles. I like to dream about that.


29.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ministerios_SIGA (1)
Costa Rica
@ tjcooper:

The Year of Jubilee was/is such a radical concept! It reminds me of when Jesus said (quoting Isaiah) that he came to preach Good News to the poor, the blind, and the oppressed. What would be Good News to them would not be perceived as such by others. Those who have to stop oppressing, for instance, would know that it was bad news for them. Once Jesus explained to them what he meant (the Bible in that particular instance doesn’t give us details of what he said--leaving us to interpret for ourselves), they tried to throw him off a cliff!


The Sabbath--a rest for all, even slaves and donkeys--every seven days is equally radical, even if its radicality is not so obviously visible as it is in the case of returning property and cancelling debts. Instead of a day to go eat at a restaurant and go home and watch football or cook burgers on the grill, it is a day that represents how God intended creation to be. All equal, all worshiping Him, no one person superior to or exerting power over another. Observing the Sabbath in this sense would remind the "oppressed" and the "oppressor" alike that the way the world is today is not how God wants the world to be. And it is our job to do something about it!


Somehow we have, in the evangelical community, relegated the Sabbath to one of those old Jewish legalistic laws that we don’t need to pay attention to, provided we put our hour in on the pew on Sunday morning. But just imagine if we actually took the Sabbath commands to heart! Not by creating more Blue Laws, but by living its principles. I like to dream about that.


29.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ministerios_SIGA (1)
Costa Rica
@ tjcooper:

The Year of Jubilee was/is such a radical concept! It reminds me of when Jesus said (quoting Isaiah) that he came to preach Good News to the poor, the blind, and the oppressed. What would be Good News to them would not be perceived as such by others. Those who have to stop oppressing, for instance, would know that it was bad news for them. Once Jesus explained to them what he meant (the Bible in that particular instance doesn’t give us details of what he said--leaving us to interpret for ourselves), they tried to throw him off a cliff!


The Sabbath--a rest for all, even slaves and donkeys--every seven days is equally radical, even if its radicality is not so obviously visible as it is in the case of returning property and cancelling debts. Instead of a day to go eat at a restaurant and go home and watch football or cook burgers on the grill, it is a day that represents how God intended creation to be. All equal, all worshiping Him, no one person superior to or exerting power over another. Observing the Sabbath in this sense would remind the "oppressed" and the "oppressor" alike that the way the world is today is not how God wants the world to be. And it is our job to do something about it!


Somehow we have, in the evangelical community, relegated the Sabbath to one of those old Jewish legalistic laws that we don’t need to pay attention to, provided we put our hour in on the pew on Sunday morning. But just imagine if we actually took the Sabbath commands to heart! Not by creating more Blue Laws, but by living its principles. I like to dream about that.


29.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ministerios_SIGA (1)
Costa Rica
@ tjcooper:

The Year of Jubilee was/is such a radical concept! It reminds me of when Jesus said (quoting Isaiah) that he came to preach Good News to the poor, the blind, and the oppressed. What would be Good News to them would not be perceived as such by others. Those who have to stop oppressing, for instance, would know that it was bad news for them. Once Jesus explained to them what he meant (the Bible in that particular instance doesn’t give us details of what he said--leaving us to interpret for ourselves), they tried to throw him off a cliff!


The Sabbath--a rest for all, even slaves and donkeys--every seven days is equally radical, even if its radicality is not so obviously visible as it is in the case of returning property and cancelling debts. Instead of a day to go eat at a restaurant and go home and watch football or cook burgers on the grill, it is a day that represents how God intended creation to be. All equal, all worshiping Him, no one person superior to or exerting power over another. Observing the Sabbath in this sense would remind the "oppressed" and the "oppressor" alike that the way the world is today is not how God wants the world to be. And it is our job to do something about it!


Somehow we have, in the evangelical community, relegated the Sabbath to one of those old Jewish legalistic laws that we don’t need to pay attention to, provided we put our hour in on the pew on Sunday morning. But just imagine if we actually took the Sabbath commands to heart! Not by creating more Blue Laws, but by living its principles. I like to dream about that.


29.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down JoanieD (0)
United States
@ Ministerios_SIGA:

Seeing that you are in Costa Rica caught my attention right off...I lived there from 2004 until 2006; I have missed it daily since my departure. I stayed in Heredia (de Heredia). But, I traveled to a very small pueblo in Guanecaste quite often as well. I thank you for all that you and yours are doing for the Ticos; they are amazing & loving people! I actually obtained a pensiondo while living there; that’s how much I had hoped I was going to stay there. Long story was I wasn’t able to (at that time)...GOD knows my tomorrow...


I saw, what you are saying; not only there in Costa Rica though. I mean, those students in the US taking Spanish, just for the grade. Sure, they can do the perfect verbage and pass the tests perfectly; but, they have no respect, or passion, for the language. Then they go for a week or so, to a country for a mission trip, or even to a language school for credit; thinking this will help them for jobs or as volunteer points even. However, when their hearts are not in it for the real reason, and, when they cannot truly speak the language, especially the different dialect for the different countries, they end up either giving up or just going sight-seeing at the touristy locations and forget the culture they came there for. Sure, there are those that are sincere. I know that all are not this way; I know tons that are sincere about the cause and actually go there without an affiliated mission organization, yet do amazing work for GOD every single day they are there.


Well, these are just my thoughts and experiences...I thank you for yours & admire you for all that you’re doing there in Costa Rica (where I left a huge part of my heart)!!!


Peace & Blessings


04.12.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ministerios_SIGA (1)
Costa Rica

In reference to the final two paragraphs, “we are called to active solidarity with the poor ...” and “we are called to reverse the hardening of our hearts ... actively demonstrating that God is close by ...”

What does it mean to live “in solidarity?” It should not mean, write a check or send more missionaries to give the answers we think people need to hear. It may partly mean, as best as one can, stripping oneself of one’s own material, cultural, even theological trappings and move into their neighborhood. It means, don’t just look for problems to ’fix’ (which may be perceived as problems only by us) but also look for the good that is there, because God is already there, and celebrate it. It means loving them, getting to know them as individual human beings, not viewing them as “people groups” that become the “objects” of our benevolences, where we have the power to determine what to give and what to withhold, who wins, who loses, who eats, who does not, who lives, who dies.

It means loving them and encouraging them to become whatever it is that God wants them to be. It means listening, rather than just giving all the answers we think they need. It means learning their language, their culture.

Many times, it also means responding with resources, but we need to remember that “our” resources are really God’s resources. Therefore, we are not to play God in the administration of those resources. And it means that we need to be advocating for justice in the world, to break down the structures that oppress and exploit the vulnerable.

The equality factor appears to be missing in much that we propose to do. God does not consider us to be superior to our neighbors, so we need to stop behaving as if we are, just because we have money, power, and influence. “... by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack” (2 Cor. 8.14).

In other words, a healthy relationship is always reciprocal. We all are “wanting" in some way, even though we don’t like to admit it. We need to recognize this, and appreciate that our sisters and brothers also have something to give us, something that we need. We need them. We live in solidarity with them, but equally important, they live in solidarity with us. That’s what Paul was saying when he said that the eye cannot say to the foot or to the hand or to any part of the body that we do not need them.

We still are running things from the “First World,” and employing a “First World” mentality. Like a theologian friend from Zimbabwe once said in a lecture I attended, “you people think you have all the answers. Indeed, you do have a lot of answers. The problem is, they are not answers to the questions we are asking.”

Ruth


05.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down tjcooper (0)
United States
@ Ministerios_SIGA:

Once again, I have enjoyed what you have brought into this discussion. Such good insight. 


I partner with a non-profit called Hyaets which is made up of 4 people who have intentionally placed themselves in a neighborhood that has undercome the conditions of poverty. They have lived there for over 5 years now and I have really seen the difference they have made in the lives of the people. 


I have learned so much from their sacrifice of allowing people to come in and out of their homes, eat their food, use their restrooms, and find shelter in their homes. It has been a joy to get to know the people of that neighborhood. 


28.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ministerios_SIGA (1)
Costa Rica
@ tjcooper:

I check out Hyaets on the web. I assume it is the Charlotte NC organization that you refer to ... very interesting! It does require personal sacrifice, but I believe that if it is what God really wants you to do (as opposed to wanting to be somebody’s hero) then the rewards will far outweigh the cost.


29.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ministerios_SIGA (1)
Costa Rica

To R. York Moore and Charlie Fletcher

You both touch upon the issue of how to address poverty and oppression while also maintaining the central task of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are some reflections based upon my experiences in Central America, as well as my experiences in hosting teams of church groups from the north.

Our ministry does lot more social ministry than I ever expected to do. It has evolved as a part of discerning what it is God wants us to do, rather than arriving with a detailed plan and timeline for accomplishing it.

When you get into the field and see the needs and suffering of the people, and have means to address them, it is kind of crazy not to do that. However, even that requires considerable spiritual discernment and cultural understanding. Often one must resist the first impulse is to write a check as a quick fix. Funding is important, but how it is delivered, and what goes along with it is equally important.

What Jim Harries has said about speaking the local languages (and I can only imagine what it would be like in Africa, where there are so many dialects) is true here, and likely is true anywhere. Groups, and sometimes individuals want to come down and visit us. Some individuals want to stay for months at a time, which would open the door for meaningful ministry, but very few speak Spanish. Therefore are limited on how they connect with the local population (and it is very taxing on me and I have other things to do as well). My friends in the jungle have said, more than once, “why can’t you bring somebody down who can speak to us?” They are very nice to my visitors, and people leave feeling like they have formed friendships, but there is a frustration among the people that no one comes being able to communicate with them on a one-on-one basis.

One’s ability to live in solidarity, to witness, to encourage, to get to know people as people is extremely limited without learning the language. At least with the Spanish language, there are opportunities to learn the language at every turn, including software that can be used at home. So there really is little excuse except for a lack of desire and/or lack of sense of need for doing so.

The other thing I would say is that, to effectively combine evangelism with advocacy and programs that address the very real needs of people is that it requires a long-term commitment, and for those who are not called to come, that long-term call is a financial one. Where we live, at least, it is a slow road, and not suitable for those who desire instant gratification. For people to believe you, they must trust and respect you. This means that you need to come and live and love and get to know them. In that respect, I would say that the projects we have undertaken (microbusiness, library, educational assistance to schools, etc.), without ever having asked for anything in return, and without an attitude of superiority, have given us the credibility to share the gospel. We have been there for five years, and I feel that just in the last 2 two years have I been seen as a person of my word who is not working from any ulterior motive except to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ in word and in deed, which I am very open about telling them.

Problems I have seen from western churches who have expressed a desire to ’help’ are:

(a) their idea of help is to come down, spending thousands of dollars in the process. This seems to almost be the primary means of ’doing missions’ with many churches. I see it as a bit selfish, when this is their emphasis. A trip once or twice is important, to experience another culture, etc., but spending $40,000 to bring a team down is not the same as investing $40,000 in offerings to further the goals of a missions organization. Then to nickel and dime me over the $15 a day I charge them for room and board, which includes hiring a cleaning person and a cook, while at the same time thinking nothing of staying at the Hampton Inn near the airport (one night’s lodging there is more than it cost them to stay 2 weeks with us), well, that is just insulting.

(b) the separation of the soul from the body means that evangelism (knock on doors, hand out tracts, etc.) takes priority over everything else. I see this as kind of self serving, because words are cheap. Plus, the will of God is to be done on earth as it is in heaven, not only when we get to heaven. Besides, in a culture saturated with God talk, they have all heard the gospel before, but haven’t seen it demonstrated. Sure, if you do an altar call, they will raise their hands and accept Christ as Savior, and the same people will do it with the next group and the next group. And all groups leave reporting their ’success statistics’ back home.

(c) missions is not seen as a long-term investment, nor does it seem to require preparation. I do not know how many people have asked me, “what do you need an Mdiv degree to do missions for?” No, not everyone needs that level of education, but all need some sort of theological education and training in cross-cultural relations, intense spiritual formation, among other things. I have had more than one “missionary wannabes” looking for a cause. They come down and try to attach themselves to us, but to use us as a springboard to execute their own agenda, and ignoring our principles and values and what we have learned by living on the field.

It’s frustrating, because more than any other ’resource’ we need good, qualified, called, servants who will come and live simply (without a/c and hot showers, for instance), love completely, and act humbly among the neglected and forgotten of the world.

www.sigaministries.org

Facebook page: SIGA Ministry Partners

Bendiciones, Ruth


13.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down tjcooper (0)
United States
@ Ministerios_SIGA:

I really enjoyed reading about your own personal experience. Many church groups who go on mission trips don’t consider the things you mentioned.


It is so easy for us to write a check, drop off clothes (or our junk), and feel as if we have done something good. These things are needed sometimes but people also need to be loved and cared for. They need for someone to share life with them.


28.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down padre_todd (0)
United States

Thanks to both of you for your thoughtful and insightful look at the poverty that plagues so much of our world.  The statistics that you included in your praper, i.e., "one billion people live on less than $1 a day," staggers the imagination.  This day... right now... there are countless millions who are trying to feed their families and themselves with the money that will barely buy a cup of coffee in the United States.  We as Christians cannot continue to ignore the plight of the world.  I agree whole-heartedly that we need to "build and deepen the sense of the holistic mission of the church."  As Jesus Himself showed us many times in the four gospels, the Good News is about addressing both the needs of the physical life as well as the spiritual life.


13.10.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down tjcooper (0)
United States
@ padre_todd:

The statistics startle me as well. I recently visited a website called The Global Rich List (www.globalrichlist.com) and it will calculate for you how rich you are. It shares some similar facts, such as, "The world’s 225 richest people now have a combined wealth of $1 trillion. That’s equal to the combined annual income of the world’s 2.5 billion poorest people." 


We do need to find a way to minister more holistically. It’s often seen that in Jesus’ ministry, he would take care of someone’s physical needs first before their spiritual needs.


28.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down tjcooper (0)
United States

This is such a well written article. After reading this, I have realized even more the great need for justice and mercy to be flowing streams in our lives. Some don’t realize the great economic injustices in our world. They are blind to it or have made up excuses and rationalized their way out of it. The truth is in the facts. I just spoke to youth about how there are about 925 million people in the world who go to bed hungry every night. But we can do something about it. We can advocate for the poor. We can give to the poor. We can begin relationships with the poor. We can pay attention to our spending. Our faith is to be active and we are to hunger and thirst for righteousness. This means that we are actively finding ways to set things right.


28.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down alearner (0)
United States

Finding the balance describe in this paper between social action and evangelism in a difficult one.  But it can be done.  Jesus both fed the hungry and and challenged them not to just work for food that spoils.  As Christ followers, we must find a way to find this balance as well. 


26.02.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Jim_Harries (-3)
Kenya
@ alearner:

Hi,


 


Thanks for that response. ... This balance must now be found in the light of circumstances different from those at the time of Jesus. We now have enormous capitalist machines operating in a globalised world and all ...


Jim


28.02.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Harley (2)
United States
@ alearner:

So true alearner! We must discover new methods and ideas that will coincide with our modern culture. I agre that it can be done because Jesus did it!  


12.07.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down dunybec (0)
United States

Your article was very interesting and requires us to think. Everyday on television I see the missionaries just trying to feed the hungary in Afica, and th children in Hati. they are beginning for help. the children are dying of starvation. It seems there is one disester after another. How are we to feed them all. Then there are those in Thialand who being sold to prostitue, some of these are very young. Then there is needing money to dig wells because the water they are drinking is killing them.

How do we take care of all these when our are more concerned about numbers and how much money was collected to build a new building. very little is in for missions. How do we handle this as tere are rich and do not think much of missions? How do we as Christians change this?


16.04.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Harley (2)
United States
@ dunybec:

The change has to begin with one person! I sit and watch those same commercials and wonder what can I do. I must admit that because of the imposters that have abused the funds for missions it is difficult to trust what is view on TV.


I am convinced that we are not concerned about those who do not have. I watched a church erect a 34 million dollar sanctuary but turn around and close their christian school so they could pay for the new church. We would rather people ride by our church and admire it than to help those within our own community. Instead of preaching the whole gospel, now the pastor has to get up and preach about money so that the mortgage can’t get paid. We would rather ask for an offering to pay the mortgage than to dig a well!  


12.07.2011
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Dan_Ryan_ (0)
United States

I really appreciated your emphasis on collaboration with the poor.  Too often both the giver and receiver of the relief work can have a mentality that it is a one way street.

I was reading an article about refugees in Sierra Leone after the civil war.  A journalist interviewed someone in the village and asked why they remained there, even though there was no food, or sustainable accomodation.  The response was that "someone will come help us."

On the other hand, after a lifetime of hearing messages like "just a dollar a day can save this child" creates a mentality in the West that they have the power to save people from poverty.

I am intrigued as I continue to research and find examples of where people with the resources and training come along side those in need and work together to develop programs and solutions.

It leads me to think about our relationship with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit doesn’t enter and wipe all sin and sinful inclinations away, and we can’t on our own renew ourselves.  It is only through taking the yoke equally that progress is made in the believer.

Dan


17.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Jim_Harries (-3)
Kenya

Hi Charlie, An attempt at a response to your question, drawing on experience in Africa.

The ’problem’ with the Lausanne manifesto is, perhaps, the implementation of ’compassion’ for the poor, in a world in which money is always ’power’. How then can a missionary from the West be truly ’humble’ if they are the source of funds? 

I think a key thing here, and one which I have practised for 17 years, is to have some Western missionaries amongst the poor whose compassionate and other ministries are disconnected from donor dependence. We say that they should also use local languages, and then call them vulnerable missionaries. See www.vulnerablemission.com Such missionaries can acquire in depth insights that can subsequently give them also a prophetic role drawing on God’s speaking to them in their experience.


12.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Charlie_Fletcher (0)  
Australia

Thanks for this restatement of the importance of a compassionate and prophetic Christian response to poverty and suffering. I wonder if we could hear more reflection on the ways in which Christian presence and sensitive dialogue are “indispensable to evangelism”. I think the Lausanne Covenant is marvellous in presenting a broad biblical vision of mission that maintains the primacy of evangelism (Paragraph 6: “In the church’s mission of sacrificial service evangelism is primary”). That gospel-centred breadth is something that I hope will continue to define the Lausanne Movement. It would be helpful to hear some reflection during the congress on how we can respond compassionately and prophetically to the vast and diverse suffering of the world and also keep evangelism at the centre of our task.


12.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down R_York_Moore (0)  
United States

I love your call to a "both/and" expression of mission.  Your statement here says it all: "At one end of the spectrum, individuals and groups gravitate toward indifference to social needs and dedicate themselves exclusively to the task of verbally communicating the gospel, aiming to “attract more people to Christ”. At the opposite extreme, individuals and groups make the struggle against poverty the exclusive aim of their mission. The latter are often motivated by their desire to make the Kingdom of God present in the ‘here and now’ in all its social and political dimensions."  In the U.S., there is a lot of synergy growing in efforts to find practical expressions of this.  I would say that in many sectors of our evangelical culture here, this is becoming the expectation.  To see one way in which InterVarsity has done this, watch the short video on a "Justice Invitational" outreach on human trafficking where over 300 students came to Christ at Ohio State: http://www.vimeo.com/11821776 you can also watch it on my site: www.tellthestory.net on the home page.  Thanks for your EXCELLENT article!


12.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Melanie (1)
Australia

Living in a country like Australia (rich, western and rather materialstic and globalised) is incredibly hard to keep this at the forefront of our minds and our mission.

Much of the intervention, mission and aid we contribute to the poor locally but especially overseas, shows a huge gap in the evangelism and social action coming together. What I’ve found time and time again in churches is that we are keen to support projects like sending shoe boxes at christmas time and sending money to buy rickshaws but not much about actually changing our lifestyles to ensure that people overseas are not increasingly sliding into poverty because of social structures that our spending supports and our over use of energy.

I’m disappointed that a "Christian" nation like Australia doesn’t take things like fairtrade and our contribution to climate change seriously and be a leader if we are so called Christian.

Lets learn how to really see others equal to ourselves and learn how to live with solidarity.


11.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Cath_F_L (0)
Australia

Thankyou for this balanced approach to integral mission. It was very encouraging. Can I table what I see to be a research/ thinking challenge for the further development of models of holistic and integral mission which is effective in its representation of Christ and its call of people into the Kingdom.

I have been concerned that further research or thinking needs to be done around these models of community transformation for holistic mission based models. Models of community development and transformation are based on secular thinking and models, rely on education and knowledge to transform, thus denying the place of heart based transformation, and the place of spirit filled approaches to renewing your mind (Rom 12:1-2).This it holds promise that transformation can occur outside of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit and his word.  The place of evangelism in this model is also not clearly defined.  

Without a critical review of the paradigmatic assumptions underlying these models, or an exploration of what acting as Christ would for justice and restoration looks like in community development settings, these models of community transformation and development place holistic mission activity at risk of being ineffective.

This is particularly so because secular literature which has coopted the concept of ‘transformation’ presents as evidence-based and ‘professional’. At worst, the hijacking of the transformation discourse by the secular literature places Christian aid and development organisations at risk of pointing the troubled communities they work with to hope outside of Christ.  Ironically, the secular hijacking of the concept of transformation originates from the thirst that all people have from deep transformation, our secular colleagues in the poverty and development field also need to hear the gospel couched in their own language and terms. To not address this issue would be to miss this evangelistic opportunity.

Having read the Lausanne website, I can see that transformation is already on the agenda in the discussion on Ephesians. Can I ask the conference to seek ways in which to do the thinking and writing in this area. Is there any way to find resources/ people to do the work of

  • Developing ‘models’ for community development (which work only with secular tools) and for transformation (which works with spiritual or kingdom transformation), and which makes a distinction between the two activities
  • Developing an alternative discourse for community transformation which recognises what true and sustainable transformation is - which acknowledge the limits of education (and approaches of working for justice), whilst still upholding the importance of these activities
  • Developing holistic mission based strategies which use biblical approaches of working for justice and showing mercy, as distinct from secular approaches, and by doing so reflect Christ to the community and point communities to him. For example, this may mean developing further our biblical understandings of how to do restorative justice, human rights, and advocacy with Christ at the centre. 
  • Identifying how we can proclaim Christ whilst at the same time not being abusing the power we have as aid organisations to meet peoples needs - just producing ’rice’ Christians - people who become Christains in order to receive our rice. The challenge of identifying a set of principles through Aid organisations can enageg in witness whilst not abusing its power with dependants is urgent.  Critique of the failures of mission in the past to be aware of the ways they could abuse  their power in this regard, has led to increasing legitimate calls of the church to be accountable in this area. However, too often the baby is thrown out with the bath water. We are asked not the engage in any proslytizing activity. Thus, a legitimate call to not abuse power can become a call to not share our faith at all. I think we need i) a clear set of principles about how aid  workers can invite people to consider christ without abusing power, ii) a reframing of evangelism as providing people with an opportunity for informed decision making and iii) a critique of the current widely accepted assumptions about culture is synomous with faith and cultural respect must always include non-engagement or dialogue. This would take us a long way.         

There may be some work done by this in Regent College which I may  not be aware of? I know that there is a book published out of the UK on transformation, which in my view is too theoretical to be of use to practitioners on the ground seeking to traction it in their own discourse and practice.

Shalom,

Cath Finney Lamb


06.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down ebenezer_d1 (0)
United States

Thank you so much for this article. It is good to see the coincidence of the conference 200 years ago with william Carey missionary conference.

I agree with the writer according to Micah 6:6-8 . what does God require of us. It is our time to have incarnational presence and compassionate dialogue.

   It is time for the christians to stand up against injustice in wealth but also invest enough money to serve this world. In last 50 years Non profit NGO are growing better than the Church. WHY?

Thanks for bringing out the great truth about the holistic approach. This world seems to be better every decade, but the ratio between the rich and the poor are going bigger everyday.

 I love the way this paper goes to the root cause of poverty; injustice. It would have be great if this paper would give us more practical way to eradicate poverty from the church and around the world


06.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down RobertoLaver (0)
United States

Thanks for your paper. I wholeheartedly agree with the need for a more comprehensive role for the church at both local and global levels.  Rightly so, you refer to the magnitude of poverty and inequality in the world and the moral imperative of the church to pursue justice in the world. It is encouraging to see that, through the efforts of the Micah Network and many others, the evangelical church is playing a greater and stronger role in helping to achieve the MDGs. As it is fully recognized by the international community, the “cancer” of corruption is a mayor obstacle and threat to the development of societies and the struggle against poverty. In fact, MDG 8, and subsequent international declarations, makes good governance a key element and condition in the global partnership for development. I agree with your contention that the church has an important role to play in demanding from the state transparency and accountability to its people, especially the most vulnerable. Of course, this presents issues to consider including the need for the church to be better informed and equipped to play this role in a thoughtful and wise manner.  Equally, if not more, important, the church needs to bring the issue of corruption and integrity out of the market place and into its own preaching and teaching.  You raise relevant questions in your paper: we need to ask ourselves why it is that church growth does not diminish injustice? Why are Christian ethics not transforming our societies?  These are excellent questions to consider as we examine these issues of transparency, accountability and integrity and how are, or might, they be more fully incorporated in the teaching of the church. Through a separate conversation, I’ve included a paper dealing in more detail with the challenge of corruption and the role of the church. 


05.10.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Clyde_Taber (0)   
United States

The idea of Christ as "pain bearer" for our own healing is very needed.  

In my recent reading about Nazi Germany and the rise of the Soviet state I’m struck with the limited impact of the Church.  Associating with political power or being unwilling to forsake power is very deadly. 


28.09.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Valerie_Anderson (2)  
South Africa

Thank you for a fantastic article and some great comments - really enjoying the dialogue on this one (raising the excitement for Lausanne). I have two queries about the article. Firstly, are you using ethical and moral imperative interchangeably? Is there a difference? Secondly, I have been grappling with the interrelationship between poverty and wealth and particilarly what you term the "immorality" of the two. My problem is this, I really am struggling to determine when ’wealth’ becomes ’immoral’ - how much is too much? As Clive says below, so often our understanding of wealth is relativistic - there is always someone with more than me, but always someone with less. i suspect that the line of "too much" is drawn WAY further back than it should be.  I suspect, too, that this is maybe one where we have to be lead by the Spirit. My concern there is that we are so blinded by materialism, consumerism, and desire that we do not see our wealth (what we have) for our poverty (all the things we supposedly ’lack’).

I would also like to see this point - "Many of these consumers are members of our churches and, in most cases, are unaware of or insensitive to the psychological and social consequences of “creating” new desires. Those responsible for production stimulate consumption in thousands of irresponsible and unethical ways" - addressed at Lausanne and grappled with. A simple example comes to mind: think of all the Christian rock bands who produce teeshirts and other paraphernalia for sale, creating desire and sustaining consumerism. Or even Christian bookshops with mugs with scriptures, bookmarks, towels, pencils, teddy bears, clothing, etc. Is our complicity with consumerism and the creation of desire irresponsible and unethical?


21.09.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Marguerite_Evans (1)  
United States

Dear Corina & Harold

Thank you for the article.  Rolland and Heidi Baker are missionaries in Mozambique, Africa. This is an amazing book!

www.irismin.org

There is Always Enough

By Rolland and Heidi Baker

There Is Always Enough is the amazing story of Rolland and Heidi Baker’s miraculous ministry among the poor. It begins with the heritage of Rolland as a third-generation missionary, and the story of how God sovereignly called Heidi and connected her and Rolland together for the purposes of His Kingdom. It reveals the miraculous working out of God’s love for the poorest of the poor who have been devastated by war, natural disasters and disease. The book demonstrates the power of the gospel when unconditional love touches the least of these. It illustrates a model initiated through children that has released a revival in Africa of historic proportions. You will follow the journey of one couple and their international team from a few abandoned orphans to over 5,000 churches.

much love

Marguerite


19.09.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down David_Allen_Bledsoe (3)  
Brazil

The article brings to attention that there is much hurting and injustice still to address, although we as evangelicals have come some distance in these obligations.

1 billion people living on 1 dollar per day. That sticks in my mind as to how we can reconcile such a complex and say reality.

Speaking of obligations, I did like your wording of "tensions is reflected in two extreme responses" between the evangelistic mandate and the cultural mandate; although these terms were not used, they were explained as such. I believe a little elaboration of what mix a church should strive to obtain and practice would be helpful to the group. I see the evangelistic mandate as the primordial mission of the church (hope you do not think I am one of those extremists!). However, I see that the church has an obligation to the social mandate.

I would highly suggest a reworking of the third paragraph from the end of your article. In it you say that evangelical churches centuries ago were known for taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth and now our commitment requires something more today in the area of social justice and mercy. That statement concerns me for two reasons. First, tf we are not careful, everything will be considered missions but no one will be making disciples. Second, we will have a sort of neo-orthodox view in the role of the church if this becomes her mission. I believe what you want to say (I think?) is that the church has learned and needs to learn better her social responsibility as she is about her mission of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Thank you for allowing me to respond.


14.09.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down MisionGloCal1Scott (12)   
Argentina

Excelente presentación. Es clave la necesidad de enfatizar la ética en la vocación de la Iglesia, su voz profética y el imperativo de seguir la justicia, la rectitud y la dignidad de todos los seres humanos. Palabra y obra, ser, hacer y decir "hasta lo ultimo de la tierra". Una mision integral reflejada en vida del pueblo de Dios a favor de las necesidades no alcanzadas de todos. La misión de la iglesia de todas partes hacia todos lados.


30.08.2010
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PhContributeBy Corina Villacorta  
 
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Country: United States

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