| || |
1. Letter from the International Director - March 2011
I was in Seoul this last week as the devastating tsunami hit Japan, right after a mega earthquake, and now each hour we see how weather (freezing cold conditions and snow) and a leaking nuclear reactor set about to further conspire and deliver misery. What went through your heart and mind when you saw and heard this news? What did you pray?
I ask this because just after this event I was in dialogue with a Christian after a prayer meeting in which I had been praying for God to help rescuers find those trapped or isolated and for supernatural intervention in the pending nuclear disaster. He was adamant that my prayer was misplaced and that we should only be praying for believers (the church) and not unbelievers; we should not be praying to stop disasters as these are processes which God uses to turn people to Christ; His argument was also around a frustration that for many years all he hears Christians pray for is a comfortable life, no pain, for peace – he could not see how this related to Biblical warnings and examples of Jesus praying for believers in John 17:9! How would you have answered this question?
What and how we pray is a good meter to measure the extent to which theological perspectives that underpin integral mission have saturated our lives. For example:
1. If we believe that God's Kingdom was heralded in here and now when Jesus was born how does that impact our prayer in such situations as Japan, Libya and Egypt? To be a part of this new kingdom, a holy nation and a royal priesthood, what is our intercessory response?
2. If you felt that disasters were linked to God's judgement would you willing to pray as Moses did in Exodus 32:31.32 – please forgive their sins, but if not blot me out of the book if life instead of them!! Or as Jesus prayer form the cross Luke 23:34 – forgive, restore!
It is Satan that is called Apollo is Revelations – meaning the Destroyer. It is Jesus who comes to bring life, light, and love! On a chat show here in the UK I heard the audience state that they could not see how a God of love would allow such suffering where was he when this happened?
He is on the cross – bleeding and dying for each one of us – that is where the God of love demonstrates his response to suffering. He has called you and I to be present NOW to demonstrate that ultimate love through our response to real needs (compassion), to proclaim the good news, to stand and speak out for justice and righteousness, manifesting God's (Holy Spirit) power and presence in signs, words and deeds. Being in Christ we shall to see all this ignited in and through our prayer.
Are you praying!?
The new web site is almost there and we plan for it to launch at the end of this month. It may take a few more months to have it fully populated and translated but we wanted to get it out there and working for us all. The Home Page will change daily as news comes in and as you send us stories on transformation, news, announcements and alerts. This is your virtual platform for sharing in the network.
The first of our Quarterly Members Journals will go out this month – a special information / discussion platform to keep you informed about Micah Network and all we are doing together. Received by all registered members.
The Monthly Newsletter continues to be the way we keep all out contacts informed about what is happening, sharing up and coming events, progress updates, regional activities and promoting integral mission. Received by all registered members and contacts who have signed up to receive the newsletter.
Our Weekly Prayer Focus, which has a monthly devotional supplement so as to help you share in your church or organisational devotionals. To receive this you need to specifically request to be on this mailing: Write to [email protected]
Regular e-mail and Skype dialogue with your regional coordinator and us here at the Micah network Secretariat:
Africa-Middle East: Ben Akpera: [email protected]
Asia-Pacific: Sundar Daniel: [email protected]
Latin America: Ruth Alvarado: [email protected]
Europe and North America: Sheryl Haw: [email protected]
For specific thematic and cross cutting issue discussions join in to our forums. The new web site will host these directly in our web site and we will no longer need to move off site to dGroups / yahoogroups.
Languages: we are currently working in 4 languages: English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. The good news is that the new web site has the capacity to start working in many more languages – so as the demand grows so we can too. BUT – we need volunteers to help in our pool of dedicated translators to make all this more widely accessible – are you one of those who could volunteer in this?
3. Tunisia - an ongoing Revolution
ACT Volunteers in yellow T-shirts serving much appreciated food to refugees on the border.
Many of the refugees are migrant workers and the impact of their lost of work is being felt by their families all around the world. One of the volunteers informed me that at first the camps were chaotic but they gathered to pray and a change occurred throughout – so much so that the Tunisian army leaders invited them to continue and explain.
Earlier this month Micah Network ran a workshop on holistic transformational development in Tunisia. Examples of being present for people and serving in love were everywhere, as Christians were amongst the first to receive exhausted refugees pouring out of Libya in Tunisia.
One such group was ACT Development (l'Association de Coopération en Tunisie)
ACT usually works in development but respond rapidly to the needs as they presented themselves. UNHCR has recognised their amazing effort.
This whole experience highlights the important of Micah Network members engaging in the next step of the Disaster Management Project as we look at how we can be better equipped and responsive, through the lens of integral mission, to emergencies that occur. The first on the scene of any emergency is one's neighbour, your community – the church!
This will be one of the topics discussed in our up and coming Africa Regional Consultation in Zambia from the 15th to 19th November 2011.
4. Voices for Justice – Australia
Each year as we work toward the 2015 deadline, Micah Challenge calls its supporters together in Canberra Australia for four days of learning, worship, reflection and action. The 2011 meeting is from the 17th to 20th September 2011. For more information go to www.micahchallenge.org.au/voices-justice
5. Up and coming Micah Network Events
Integral Mission Conversation Sri Lanka
25th - 26th March
Africa Regional Consultation 'Mobilising Africa for Integral Mission',
15th - 19th November 2011, Zambia
Note: we have moved it one day forward as we had some requests asking for Sunday to free for those wishing to attend church or travel home to start the new week fresh.
A taster of some of the topics here:
• Conflict and Reconciliation
• Marginalisation to inclusion
• Authentic leadership
• Corruption, justice and advocacy
Latin America Regional Consultation 'Integral Mission & Arts'
Dates and location to be confirmed.
Asia Regional Consultation Sri Lanka
17th - 21st October
Micah Network 5th Triennial Global Consultation
11th to 15th September 2012, Europe
For more details email [email protected]
6. Disasters and the Local Church
The tragic events in New Zealand and Japan have reminded us of the destructive power of the earth's fragile crust. Churches in both countries have responded with compassion to human need - but their pastors are trained in theology, not in disaster management.
Help is at hand! Tearfund has just released a new publication: "Disasters and the Local Church". Intended for church leaders in disaster "hot-spots", the book gives guidance on preparing for and responding to floods, droughts, windstorms, landslides and earthquakes. More general chapters give ideas on Disaster Management Committees, using volunteers, assessing needs and responding to displaced people. There is also a section on the particular strengths of the church in facing a local crisis, plus Bible Studies, discussion questions and case studies. It is written and illustrated by Bill Crooks and Jackie Mouradian, who co-authored the church and community mobilisation guide Umoja.
The book is available for download, chapter by chapter, from the TILZ section of Tearfund's web-site:
Hard copies can be ordered online at £10 a copy from:
Bob Hansford, DRM Advisor, Tearfund UK
7. A Story of Transformation...
Living Bread Ministries – a recent new member of Micah Network sent in the following story:
Jussânia was an alcoholic who lives in Vila Safira. After beginning a church plant there 18 months ago, Pastor Jocelito started visiting her. Jocelito has a heart for addicts as he once was one. He was especially drawn to Jussânia because she was alone. Her addiction had lead to estrangement from her family and neighbors. This is to be expected since broken relationships are one of the primary difficulties resulting from poverty.
Put yourself in Jussânia situation. Imagine you are an aging widow in a majority world slum. Your addiction has destroyed years of your life. Your behavior has resulted in everyone turning their backs on you. You can't work because of the alcohol, but in reality you have no education, can't read, and have no marketable skills all of which contributed to your hopelessness and alcohol addiction. Without help your situation would become progressively more drastic as you aged and were unable to even collect recyclables for income.
As a result of the gospel witness of Pastor Jocelito and the church plant, through both word and deed, Jussânia has been reconciled to God. This has resulted in receiving victory over her addiction. She is now part of a kingdom community and has been reconciled with her family. This is a huge blessing for a widow in her circumstances.
Since she is close to retirement age and has little hope of finding employment, the church has decided to use their limited resources to pay into the Brazilian version of Social Security for her. While this will not provide much income, it will allow her to draw a small pension that should keep her from going hungry. In addition, when the time comes, her children are now willing to take her in and help care for her.
This is a great illustration of how making disciples transforms communities. Jussânia has repented of her sin and trusted in Christ. The personal transformation resulting from being reconciled to God has led to reconciliation to her children and neighbors. It has also lead to her entrance into a local body of believers that is being taught to obey all that Christ has commanded. As a result of this, they are helping to care for the widows among them, but this is not a one sided equation. Jussânia is now faithfully serving in the church. Every week she helps to prepare the bread they serve to the children on Sunday mornings. She assists with other ministries and helps care for other women and children in the church. Church planting is essential among all people groups especially the poor and needy. The type of transformation we see above cannot be accomplished by government or humanitarian work alone. It can only be done by the grace of God through the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
Thank you to Patrick Hubbard II for sharing this story with us.
8. Mission and Development Course - Lima Peru
In cooperation with the Tear Netherlands, Peace and Hope are running a course on "Mission and Development", in Lima from 26 to 30 April 2011.
The course, for Christian leaders who are serving in the field of social action, seeks to articulate an ethical understanding of human development from the perspective of the Kingdom of God by drawing on Christian experiences and projects. Exploration of the relationship between mission and development will be undertaken
• Javier Iguíñiz, chief professor at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru and influential analyst of the economy and patterns of human development in Latin America
• Humberto Bouillon, professor of theology in various pastoral training centres in Costa Rica and a Ph.D. in Development Studies from the Faculty of Economic and Social Studies at the University of Manchester in England
• Graham Gordon, a political scientist and expert in development and advocacy
• Erika Izquierdo theologian, an expert in the fight against poverty, Latin American coordinator of Micah Challenge.
More information at: http://www.pazyesperanza.org/evento/curso-mision-y-desarrollo.pdf
9. Micah Network presence in consultation on HIV advocacy
The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) will hold a consultation in Chiang Mai from 20-22 March on the subject of 'Strengthening our Christian Advocacy on HIV'. It will provide a space for discussion of the current issues and trends related to advocacy on HIV and AIDS, in order to deepen commitment, strengthen advocacy capacity and identify common strategies for future collaboration.
The EAA is mid-way through their HIV advocacy campaign, which is called the "Live the Promise" and focuses on the following four goals:
• Addressing the root causes of vulnerability to HIV - which connects to a current global civil society focus on human rights and HIV;
• Achieving Universal Access to prevention, treatment, care and support - a commitment made by governments to be met in 2010 but which remains under-funded and off-target;
• Eliminating stigma and discrimination - which remains a key barrier to achieving Universal Access;
• Ensuring accountability and resources.
The Micah Network is sending HIV Project Officer, Greg Manning, to this meeting. If any of you are attending this meeting, please do make contact with Greg either at the meeting or in advance ([email protected]).
10. Member Contributions
Newsletters: please send us news of events, stories of work done and books or articles you want to share with everyone.
Prayer Focus: why not join in the weekly prayer focus and engage transformational change: [email protected]
Steve Bradbury has faithfully facilitated this for us for the last few years and we thank him for this commitment. He has handed over the baton of the weekly collation to us at the Micah Secretariat, and continues with us in prayer.
Financial: have you sent your 2011 annual contribution in yet? No – then please do so as soon as possible so as to play your part in helping forward our shared vision. We have a member alert that is available to use in your church and organisation to help raise awareness and support for all our work – if you have not received this as yet please ask Timothy to send you it at: [email protected]