Acest video este de la Societatea Cersetorilor tinuta la biserica baptista “Sfanta Treime” despre misiune si migrare:
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the church’s participation in the Lausanne Movement. At the event, there were about 4,000 participants from 198 nations. The goal was to have the participants represent the demographic of global church leaders. Although women, as a percentage of the global church, were underrepresented, the ethnic representation was quite diverse. I was impressed by the constant possibility to listen, to encourage and to build relationships across broad swaths of the church.
However, Andy Crouch noticed that another particular group was underrepresented. In his article for Christianity Today entitled ‘Unrepresented at Cape Town’, Crouch observed that of the four thousand delegates participating at the Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, the prominent figures from evangelical churches in the U.S. were underrepresented. Crouch speculates that their absence is due to these “important” leaders’ decision to use their power and time elsewhere. From his observation, Crouch extrapolates implications on power, influence, innovation and the future of global evangelical movements. While I would agree with some of Crouch’s analysis, I think that the absence of “western” Church leaders is not simply a matter of their deciding how they use with their influence and their limited time; rather, it points to a deeper problem inherent in the Lausanne Movement. It reveals a division in the Lausanne Movement between traditional “sending” countries and traditional “receiving” countries, and it indicates a misguided division between church and mission.
The West and the Rest
The inception and development of the Lausanne Movement has had the primary goal of engaging those outside the church through mission and evangelism. Many of the signatories and proponents of the Lausanne Covenant were churches interested in global mission, missionary agencies and para-church organizations.
However, as missionaries and evangelists established churches in these “unreached” locations, many of the new churches adopted the Lausanne Covenant as a statement of faith. The Lausanne Covenant was an intrinsic part of their make-up. Moreover, as churches networked, evangelical alliances and federations used the Lausanne Covenant as a basis for their organizations.
The result from these historical developments is that churches from the so-called “west” view the Lausanne Movement as relevant for outreach and primarily for cross-cultural mission while the rest of the global evangelical church understands the Lausanne Movement as a central statement of faith and a basis for ongoing church development.
So, I don’t think “western” evangelical church leaders were absent because they were not interested or because the Cape Town Congress was trumped by other priorities. Rather, I suspect that “western” church leaders do not view Lausanne as relevant to their church ministry. If my suspicion is true, a sad corollary is the cloaked patronization that our “western” churches, perhaps unwittingly, communicate: “We think that the Lausanne Movement is good for you, but we don’t need it.”
This, I think, is the real issue regarding the use of power – and not merely the access to the public platform, as Crouch supposes. The power of the “western” churches is the ability to do it alone. The “western” churches can afford to have their own individualized statements of faith and to choose whether or not they develop local partnerships. While these choices and individualistic stances are simply wrongheaded, in places where churches are a minority or where they have few resources, they are also luxuries. What is worse is that this use of power divides rather than unites the global church.
Church and Mission
Recognizing that the traditional “missionary-sending” churches appeal to the Lausanne Movement for its “missionary” activity but not for its “church” activity helps to identify an underlying theological problem. Namely, there is a rift between “church” and “mission”. Thinking that there is “mission” for those outside of the church and “church” for those inside the church is a mistake. Mission is the action of God through the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ, empowered by the Spirit to be the Father’s witnesses in the world. The church is missional, and mission is ecclesial.
Of course, this division between “church” and “mission” has been identified by many like Brunner, Newbigin and Bosch. What we see today in the lack of participation by “western” church pastors in the Lausanne Movement is a very concrete social manifestation of this theological error.
Unity through the Lausanne Movement
Although the divisions between the traditional “sending” churches and the traditional “receiving” churches and between conceptions of church and mission pose problems for the Lausanne Movement, the Lausanne Movement is in a unique position to ameliorate these divisions.
Lausanne can begin by naming these divisions as a problem. Lausanne can continue bringing churches together, including traditional “receiving” churches but especially traditional “sending” churches. Lausanne can help the “western” churches learn from the missional churches in the “non-west” to develop missional perspectives and activities in their local church contexts. They can also help the “western” churches understand that the Lausanne Movement is not simply a mission movement but a church movement, and they can build relationships between local churches in the “west” and local churches throughout the world.
Likewise, Lausanne can facilitate the “non-western” churches in working with “western” churches to send missionaries not only into the local communities, cities and villages but also into trans-geographic contexts.
The Lausanne Movement can also facilitate the development of a more robust theology of missional churches and ecclesial mission.
By recognizing and mediating these divisions, the Lausanne Movement can support not only the church’s engagement in the world but also mediate healing and development within the global church. The church’s power can serve to bring us together. The church’s resources can be shared more effectively. The global church can become more united. And, at the end of the day, the Lausanne Movement itself will be a more credible representation of the global church.
Last week I read Rob Bell’s book Love Wins and Francis Chan’s piggyback book Erasing Hell. Although I have not read the blog hype about Bell’s book, I did order the books to find out what all the commotion was about. Since I’m unfamiliar with the blog debates, this may be repetitive.
Because Bell’s book made New York Times best-seller, I expected to discover something new. I didn’t. So, I surmised that the timing of Bell’s discourse must coincide with a lot of people’s own struggles with questions about eternity.
Let me start with some problems I have with Bell’s presentation. I feel like he over-emphasized one’s “freedom” and one’s “choice.” Bell depicts human freedom as the result of God’s love, which I agree with. But it seems counterintuitive to propose that God’s love wins when I have the freedom to choose what I want.
I also think that Bell takes “restoration” out of its biblical context and imposes his own categories of hell. He offers Origen as an example of a Church Father who promotes the reconciliation of every person and thing, but the Church condemned this idea as heresy.
I disagree with Bell’s reduction of resurrection to the earth’s life-cycle. Resurrection in the New Testament is an interruption and a completely new experience of new life without death.
I do appreciate Bell’s interpretation of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25 and his explanation of inclusivism and universalism. But he came across, to me at least, as being quite ambiguous. He presents these views sympathetically without explicitly siding with one of them.
As for Chan’s book, I appreciated that he didn’t simply write a rebuttal to Bell’s book but rather wrote a more extensive discourse on hell in which he also criticized Bell’s thought. I appreciate that Chan leaves open the question of eternal suffering versus annihilation. My main critique of Chan is that although he claims to be open to rejecting the familiar teaching on hell (pg. 16), his a priori commitments to his particular view on hell are evident throughout. I have the impression that he was choosing and interpreting texts through the lens of a Reformed-styled satisfaction theory of atonement.
Chan detracts from his argument by misconstruing Bell’s position (pg. 24 – though he clarifies by caveat in the endnote). I do appreciate Chan’s correction of Bell’s depiction of hell as the “garbage heap” and the appropriation of this metaphor. But throughout Chan repeatedly fails to account for the literary devices of hyperbole, parable, or the apocalyptic genre in which certain references to hell are depicted. Apart from these minor issues, I see more problematic Chan’s belief that hell is a motivation for Paul’s mission and his fideistic approach to God’s reasons for hell. Paul himself declares that he is compelled by love (not hell). And although God’s ways our higher than our ways, this is primarily an exposition of the cross and not a blanket to cover up all the ways i which we don’t understand God. I am a hard-sell for propositional affirmations that are not substantiated by reason especially where we can find in Scripture pointers to the reasoning and effects of hell and not merely an ignorant appeal to mystery.
I am unsatisfied with the (albeit different) assumptions of both authors about salvation and judgment – concepts that merit further articulation when addressing ideas on hell. Although both books are readily accessible for popular readership (especially Bell’s), I think that they needed to bring a more scholarly treatment to the subject – as done by other authors like Sanders’ No Other Name and the Counterpoint’s publication Four Views On Hell.
In comparing both books, it seems that Bell is emphasizing God’s love (and love wins), while Chan accentuates God’s power (saying that God does what He pleases and gets what He wants, otherwise He’s not powerful – pg. 30). Placing so much stress on the ability of God to win all of creation through God’s love may carry echoes of grace, but Bell risks sacrificing the justice accomplished by God by placing victims in front of their perpetrators. On the other hand, Chan stresses God’s sovereignty so much that he skirts the responsibility that human beings bear for their actions.
Both authors draw an apophatic line. Bell resists determining what hell is and who is in hell. Chan resists determining why God judges and how God passes the judgment of hell on people. Here I find myself much closer to Bell than to Chan, and I think that this is one reason why the spirit of Bell’s book is more inviting and attractive. I find many advantages in the indeterminacy of a theology of hell, leaving room for questions rather than speculation.
The fullest depiction of God’s judgment that we have seen up to this point in human history is Jesus on the cross. There, God chooses to absorb our violence, atone our sin, give us forgiveness and reconcile us rather than judge us and separate us from God’s Self. Evidently, God doesn’t want to be God without us. This is how God judges: through His cross.
By leaving the question about future judgment and hell open, we are less likely to create hells on earth. It is a truism that human beings are conformed to the images they worship. Those who established inquisitions and torture chambers justified their actions by claiming that they were following God by saving the soul and destroying the evil flesh. So too we, like the disciples, often call down fire from heaven in a heartbeat when we cry for “judgment” – and this in the name of God!
Here too is the dangerous rub of power and theologies of hell through which the powerful claim to secure heaven for themselves and hell for others. Listen to the words of N.T. Wright:
I think that Leslie Newbigin in his book the Open Secret sums it up nicely:
“The full number of the Gentiles will be gathered in and all Israel will be saved.” This text from Romans has a universal ring to it. Paul’s vision is truly cosmic and universal. His earlier description of Jesus as the new Adam also points in that direction. “As one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all” (Rom 5:18). And yet the same time Paul can say of himself that he must exercise the strictest self-discipline “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:27). It seems to me that the whole nature of the gospel requires us to maintain this tension and not to try to resolve it either by a rationalistic universalism which denies the possibility of finally missing the mark, or by increasingly fruitless arguments about who will and who will not be saved. When Jesus was asked the question about whether few or many would be saved he declined to answer it but sternly warned the questioner to strive to enter the narrow door that leads to life. There is a kind of confidence that leads to complacency, and there is a kind of anxiety which leads to selfish efforts to save oneself. It seems to me clear from the whole New Testament that the Christian life has room both for a godly confidence and for a godly fear. The contrast between these is not a contradiction. If I know that God in his limitless grace and kindness has chosen and called me to be a bearer of his grace for others, my trust in him will not exclude the awareness that I could betray his trust in me, and that very awareness will drive me closer to him. This is a deeply personal relationship. It excludes, I think, the kind of rationalistic universalism that I referred to. It also excludes, I think, any temptation to set limits to God’s grace, or to write off any human being as beyond God’s redeeming love.
Over the past few years, I’ve repeatedly come across Christians who are sounding the alarm on Muslim expansion. (For example, see the Christianity Today.) They point out that the growth rate of Muslims is surpassing the growth rate of Christians and that this is largely due to Muslim birth rates. Because Muslims are birthing more children than Christians, the alarmists claim that they will surpass Christians. You can see an example of this perspective here:
There are many problems with this analysis. It assumes that the countries in which Muslims are immigrating are Christian. It carries undertones of racism in its opposition to higher birth rates in ethnic groups that are dominantly Muslim. When Christian families are told that they need to have more children, the burden for increasing birth rates is largely shouldered by women.
This anti-Muslim analysis also fails to account for the effects of migration on Muslim families. Muslim immigrants are more likely to educate their daughters, and the education of women results in lower birth rates. Where poverty is diminished, birth rates decrease. And when families migrate to cities, the birth rates decrease.
More importantly, advocating higher birth rates is not a biblical strategy for expanding the people of God. In fact, Scripture indicates that God’s people grow precisely in the face of low birth rates.
This is seen at the inception of God’s entering into covenant with the patriarch and matriarch of Israel. God promises to Abraham and Sarah that they will birth a son even though they are old (Genesis 17). In fact, it is precisely in Sarah’s condition of barrenness that God promises, creates and births this particular people set aside for God’s purposes.
Later in Israel’s history, after they have been conquered and taken into exile, the Babylonians castrate the male leaders in order to cut off their progeny and to secure the “purity” of their own ethnic elite (2 Kings 20:18). In the midst of the threat of assimilation and in the face of what seems to be the end of their people, God promises through the prophet Isaiah that the eunuchs who are faithful to God’s covenant will receive an everlasting name that will not be cut off. This, God says, is even better than having sons and daughters (Isaiah 56:4-5). God asserts that it is through faithfulness and not through procreation that the people of God expand. In 56:3 and 6, the prophet says that through faithfulness, the foreigners (those outside the people of God) join themselves to the Lord.
Those who promote increasing birth rates in Christian families must also explain how they square their proposal with the life of Jesus. Jesus was not married and had no children. While Jesus does not assert celibacy as a model for all Christians, he does say: ‘Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can’ (Matthew 19:11-12).
Some also affirm that Jesus’ models renunciation of sex in order to unmask and disarm the idols of sex and fertility. Others assert celibacy as a pragmatic approach to mission, pointing to the Apostle Paul’s words to be unmarried “as I myself am” for “the unmarried are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, but the married are anxious about the affairs of the world… (1 Corinthians 7: 25-31, 36-40). Most probably, Jesus’ life of celibacy is indicative indicative of his priestly ministry for atonement (echoing back to Leviticus 16). Again, this atonement is coming from God, through God’s promise and through God’s act of reconciling humanity to God’s Self, not through our own initiatives of pro-creation. Would it be our prayer and expectation that the God who “calls into existence the things that do not exist” birth new life in our barren lands?
This is a Peace Testimony that I wrote for the George Fox Center for Peace and Justice:
Jesus says, “Blessed are the peace-makers.” Sadly, my first reaction to conflict, division and injustice is not usually peace but anger. Thankfully, my community helps me allay my anger and to cultivate actions rooted in love.
My wife Lenutsa and I participate in an organization called Word Made Flesh. Although peace, justice, and reconciliation are part of our ethos, they are not explicitly named as elements of our core values. What we do name as one of our defining marks is “community,” which implies peace, justice, and reconciliation.
In Galati, an industrial city in eastern Romania, our community is postured as a sign of peace in the midst of Orthodox Christian and Neo-Protestant tensions, Romanian and Roma violence, and wealthy and poor divisions. We are situated in a historically impoverished neighborhood in which we have made friendships across religious, ethnic, and economic lines. Here we attempt to respond on a daily basis to the wounds of broken and disenfranchised children and families. By addressing violence and injustices and by building healthy relationships, we pray that the seeds of peace are sown and nourished.
But when faced with conflict, my anger often gets the better of me. I am angry at the mutual exclusion of the different Christian traditions. I am angry at the entrenched racism and the self-victimization. I am angry at the patterns of abuse, neglect, and disempowerment. Of course, I can justify my anger as being “righteous,” but if I am honest, I realize that the anger feels good and gives me an illusion of control.
While anger seems like a knee-jerk reflex to conflict around me, the spiritual practices of my community prepare me and enable me to respond in love. Each morning we sit together in worship, prayer, silence, and Scripture reading. By focusing on the God who is love and who makes peace without violence, my vision, attitude, and actions are disciplined and directed towards love and peace. Although the cultivation of peace in my life is a long and continuous process and fraught with many failings, I have seen how our commitment to cultivate a community that is rooted in God’s life and presence leads to gestures of peace-making. Let me offer one example.
A few years back on a cool October day, I was watching the sun go down on our soccer game as I returned from the open market with two sacks full of groceries. I heard screaming and saw commotion, but I did not know what was causing the upheaval. I set the dinner food down and ran to the crowd of children who live on the streets. I found Ionuts cornered to the fence by a gang of teenagers who were beating him up. The reason for their aggression was simply that Ionuts was a “street child”, someone they considered lesser than themselves and easy prey for what they thought was a good time. The rest of the children from the streets and the volunteer workers did not know how to intervene except by shouting their protest. Without thinking, I walked into the middle of the gang and shielded Ionuts with my body. With my back to the belligerent teens, I looked Ionuts in the eye and tried to calm him as he screamed worthless threats at his attackers. Fortunately, the boys departed as quickly as they had jumped him. Unfortunately, Ionuts was bleeding through his cut eye, mouth and nose. He grabbed his glue bag and cried justice through the soothing intoxication.
While I was overwhelmed by my powerlessness to help Ionuts’ immediate pain, I was presently surprised that I didn’t respond to aggression with aggression. Certainly this small act of peace-making spoke love to Ionuts as well as to his attackers and the bystanders. Although violence seems to evoke my own violence from within, at least in this instance I could see how our community’s spiritual practices shape and enable actions that are non-violent in the face of violence. And as we see God work in us and change us, our daily prayer is not only to become signs of peace; we also pray that victims of violence like Ionuts experience God’s healing, justice, and reconciliation.
Thank you for praying for us over the summer. Let me update you on what was a full, busy and beautiful season.
This spring we had lots of requests from parents and neighbors to do an adult literacy program. We also noticed that there was lots of interest and energy in our community to start this. So, in June, we enrolled six adults. Over the course of three months, four of them finished the program and learned how to read. Now we are enrolling a new group that will focus on writing.
This summer we placed all of our teenagers in a mentoring relationship. During the week we discussed issues like what it means to be a Christian, values and convictions, how to treat someone of the opposite gender, drugs and addiction, and personalities and temperaments. We had weekly meetings with each one and tried to help them evaluate their lives and to take steps in a healthy direction. This is something we’re hoping to continue this throughout the school year.
In midsummer we hosted a team from Lifegate Church. They have been incredibly supportive of me and our community over the years, so it was a joy for us to introduce them to the children and to our ministry. They helped out in the garden and played games with the kids. We are thankful for the relationships we were able to develop and trust that the investments made will reap fruit for the kingdom.
A group also visited us for a day from Grace Baptist Church. We spent the day playing soccer, volleyball and basketball. The girls painted their nails and the younger kids played with bubbles. It was a blessing for the kids and for our staff, and we hope to continue developing our relationship with this church.
We also hosted Dan Henry, who is our servant team coordinator in Sierra Leone. It was great to catch up with him and to introduce him to our Romanian staff and to our kids.
This year I have been involved with the pastoral committee from the church in which we participate in Galati, specifically with their outreach to the needy. We spent a few days with the church leadership to pray and plan together at Voronet. While there we also visited a 15th century monastery with amazing icon painted inside and out.
Over the past few years, we have organized a monthly “Beggars’ Society,” which raises awareness concerning poverty issues. Rather than holding this event at our Community Center, this year we have held it in local churches. The last series focused on migration, and we had really positive feedback on it.
In August, we organized camp for the younger children from the Community Center The theme of the week was “the fruit of the Spirit.” Thank you for praying for this time. We were able to build relationships and engage the kids in way that we cannot in Galati. It was great to see the children in nature, horseback riding, running around the open fields, jumping on the trampoline, and laughing. We saw God working in their lives throughout the week.
We were planning a hiking and camping trip with the teenage boys. But because they didn’t show much interest, we decided to direct them to camp with the church youth groups. A couple of them participated and are now much more involved in church. We still hope to do the hiking/camping trip in the future.
In August, I finished up my dissertation on St. Basil’s theology of the poor. It took a lot of time and a lot of work to get it done. I’m glad to have submitted it and am hopeful that it will be approved.
Over the summer we saw our expenses exceed our income. This is a little troubling in that our expenses during the winter are even higher. Almost all of our income is from many small regular donations of $10 or $15 per month. If you know anyone who would be interested in joining our support community, please speak with them on our behalf.
Although financial strains can be a burden, we continue to trust God who has provided beyond what we ever could hope for. We continue to walk on this road by faith in God’s provision. This summer we identified a number of grants that are designated for education and social projects. So, we applied. We received a letter of intention from one of them. You can help us win the grant. Register and vote here. The name of our project is called: “Sa-i invatam pe copii drumul catre scoala”.
A friend of ours held a concert this past week. She donated all the sales of her CDs to our community so that we could provide school supplies for children that are not enrolled at our Community Center but who do not go to school because they don’t have the necessary supplies. We are thankful that the local community is starting to resource us so that we can have a larger impact.
We also have had the local newspapers and television stations publish articles and interviews on our community and our various activities. This is helping the people of Galati know who we are and what we are about.
This month we are also launching a new project. In a village about 40 minutes outside of Galati, we are opening a Day Center to help kids that are at risk of dropping out of school. The chair of our board purchased and renovated an old house. Now we are in the process of acquiring all the necessary authorizations. We have employed a new staff person, Anca Nebunu, to coordinate the Center. At least 10 children will be enrolled this year.
In September, we are also receiving two interns. Tami is from George Fox University and will be with us for four months. Katy is from Scotland. She did a servant team with us in 2000 and is now a family practitioner. Over the next 10 months, she will be praying about and investigating the possibilities of setting up a medical practice in Galati.
As you see, it has been a busy summer and much is happening this autumn as well. We are grateful to see God at work and pray that we simply would God’s instruments in witnessing to and building for the kingdom.
Please do continue to pray for us:
- for the children and teenagers at the Center to progress in school, to get involved in a local church, and to discover God’s direction in their lives
- for the receiving of the grant
- for the Beggars’ Society events and advocacy activities
- for our new staff and interns
- for the development of our support community
With thanksgiving for your involvement in our lives,
david and lenutsa
My friend and co-laborer Rachel Simons recently posted this:
My team and I recently watched a message by the late Henri Nouwen entitled “Becoming the Beloved”. Drawn from the passage in Luke 6 where Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray and then calls his disciples, Nouwen speaks of communion, community and mission as three essential elements of life in Christ.
Often, he says, we take things in reverse order when we respond first through ministry and programs (ministry), we gather others around us when we find we can’t make it on our own (community), and finally pray for God to bless our efforts (communion). Christ models the exact opposite for us: communion with the Father is first, followed by movement toward community, then ministry to the needs of the people around us.
With the school year in full swing it seems I’ve been thrown into a whirlwind of activity. After morning devotions some of us tutor children one-on-one for an hour and then prepare three hours of activities for about thirty children each afternoon. Some days have included hospital visits, trips to the park, a neighborhood clean-up initiative and various field trips.
In October we prepared an autumn festival and soon we’ll begin Christmas pageant preparations. We have more field trips to organize and have begun a recent initiative of bringing children into our homes on the weekends to distance them from the institutional environment for a brief time. We’ve written a grant to fund the school newsletter we started last year, and asked for support from the local government as we seek a more permanent location for our activites. We continue our comittment to train and disciple high school and college volunteers as they gain first-hand experience reaching out to vulnerable children.
The list of activities could continue, but I pause to ask that you pray for us and especially for me. I feel swept up by the wave of activity and momentum of so many adults and children involved in something wonderful and beautiful. Guests have observed and commented that the children clearly trust us and feel loved and safe in our presence. We watch some young ones take steps toward healing, while others love to pray and are unashamed to share of their faith in God.
The needs around us are great, but I sense our need for Christ is even greater at this time. Pray that we will be reminded often of this fact and listen attentively to God’s prompting in all we do and in the directions we choose to take. We so deeply need His clear guidance and direction in all our choices.
Peace in Christ,
Kenneth Bailey comments:
Each worker receives wages “according to his labor,” not according to his or her production! A capitalist world judges the value of everything on the basis of production. This attitude is deeply ingrained in Western society. Throughout history many faithful servants have labored and seen little fruit as judged by the world. God has a different measuring stick, and wages are on the basis of labor, not production. In this text Paul affirms that God is pleased with and will reward that labor, irrespective of the visible results (Paul through Mediterranean Eyes, 127).
I just finished reading Kenneth Bailey’s Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes. I have loved reading Bailey’s other works on the parables of Jesus and, especially, the Prodigal Son. In the book Bailey takes up Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. The strength of Bailey’s reflections on Paul is his analysis of Paul’s rhetoric. His identification of Paul’s use of chiasms and Paul’s appeal to Isaiah and Amos enlightens and clarifies anyone’s reading of 1 Corinthians. Although Bailey’s commentary isn’t as quite as informative (he primarily follows Thiselton and Fee), his autobiographical asides from experiences in the Middle East are jewels hidden throughout the text for the reader to discover and to sense the power of Paul’s letter for contemporary disciples in the Mediterranean and beyond.