A Missiology of Non-Violence
Big Issues in Mission (1)
Happy New Year!
Welcome to “Global Witness, Globally Reimagined,” where we dream about mission in a postcolonial world. Every Thursday, I share one thought that has spoken to me in the week, some resources that I trust will be helpful to you, and three exciting quotes about mission to give you something to think about. I pray one of these will energise you in the coming week.
1. Thought I Can’t Shake Off
I have a close friend who leads a mission organisation that is quite active in a part of the world that is currently particularly engrossed in violence. The small group of Christian leaders who have emerged through the work of his organisation have been scattered all over the world. By chance, I met one of these leaders in a coffee shop in Minneapolis over Christmas. When I told him the leader of his organisation is a friend, he said, “Can you ask him why the organisation is silent on the mess going on in my country?” My friend said he would really love to say something, but he is bound by organisational policy that prevents him from speaking—they need to be seen as neutral at all times. My response to him was, “You are not making sense.” But the Minneapolis question stuck with me. I know too many mission organisations focused on saving souls in the so-called “10/40 Window” who dare not see the human suffering going on in parts of that area, especially the countries at the centre of the “window.” Many of them still believe that mission is only about saving souls from eternal damnation in hell so, of course, the violence going on hastens their transition to heaven. Some cannot do anything because their own countries are involved in the violence and, of course, “it is Christian duty to be patriotic.” Their missiology has room for violence within it (as mission has done for centuries). They say things like, “At least you get to hear the gospel (before our government bombs your villages).” The deafening silence, particularly among mission organisations, on the wars going on in the world today should cause us concern. We know that human empires are always violent—they rise through violence, they thrive through violence, and they fall through violence. The religions of the empires are also sustained by violence. By choosing to follow Jesus—and, indeed, if Jesus is our Lord, then Caesar is not—we ought to distance ourselves from the violence of our empires. The fact that Jesus is our Peace (Eph. 2:14) remains central to the gospel. In this new year that looks like one given to violence, our role in God’s work in the world must prioritise being agents of peace. Yes, this often involves actively resisting the violence of our empires.
2. Resources I am Enjoying
Christianity remains an active faith. In the last one hundred years, we have seen a shift in its global demographic as a result of the expansion of Christianity in parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. This exciting development impacts mission quite significantly in the twenty-first century. In this episode of the Lausanne Movement Podcast, Matthew Niermann and Allen Yeh reflect on the idea of Polycentric Christianity, a key concept that has come to describe the multiplicity of centres of the Christian faith in the world today. Such developments as the rise of Pentecostalism, the expansion of Christianity in the Global South, and the multiplication of denominations are subsets of this fascinating conversation. This is one important resource for contemplating the emergence of global Christianity and its ripple effect on mission today.
3. Quotes I am Pondering
We are one body with many parts … Elevating our togetherness over our differences can result in ignoring the specific issues related to a particular people group. Equally, raising our individuality over our collective identity as Christians can result in tribalism, subcultures and divisions. — Ben Lindsay
Prayer and intercession, being missiological in nature, attune the heart of the church to the needs of the community. They help us see and listen to the voice of those in need.— Wilmer Estrada-Carrasquillo
Mission is God’s, but we are also participants. Our role is to do everything that the church is sent into the world to do: preaching of the Gospel, healing of the sick, caring for the poor, teaching the children, improving international and interracial relations, and attacking injustice. — Faith K. Lugazia
I pray that you will be faithful to the mission God has for you this week.