Romans 8:18-27 talks about a "groaning" – a deep painful longing for the return of Christ. This type of mourning seems to be at odds with the type of Christianity we speak about. We may not agree with the prosperity Gospel that is preached, yet in our desire to see transformation we seem to imply that if we just work harder, prayer more, study the Bible more, be more professional in our good works ministry, win more people to Christ – then through this effort of ours we will have lasting transformation.
In our desire to apply an integral mission approach to our relief, development and justice ministries we quickly buy into an ideology that we can solve the ailments of our broken world. There is something attractive and appealing about knowing what to do to make things better. Aid practitioners like to be able to quantify a problem and find a solution.
I remember when I first started nursing. We would come on duty early in the morning and find the ward is a mess. We would team up and systematically work through the ward, getting each bed made, each patient washed and fed, each area cleaned. At the end of the ward round we would look back and for a fleeting moment we would see a transformation. Then someone would vomit, something would spill and patients would move around and everything would change. It took me a while to realise that though it was nice to see neat and orderliness in a ward, real transformation was not the outward appearance but it was in the "living and working" ward that we would find it. It was holding the hand of a patient who was afraid and in pain. It was being the shoulder to cry on for worried relatives, it was responding to people needs for help. It was working as a team to care for people. It was the joy of seeing a patient recover and go home. It was standing together to cry for the patient who died.
As I look back over this time and all the relief, development and justice work we engage in I believe we need to recognise that real transformation is not the temporary provision of food, water and shelter (as important as these are), real transformation can be captured in: 1. Participation: working through the pains and struggles together, serving one another 2. Community: being a part of each other's lives, standing together, trusting, building and serving together 3. Love: learning to selflessly love one another and our world will greatly alter how we live, the choices we make and the priorities we focus on. 4. Walking with God: the more we grow in our walk with God the more we will groan and feel the pain.
The truth is that the more we love, the more we engage in community and participate in life the more we will see and know the pain and brokenness of life – the more we will groan. But it is a groaning that intercedes and engages in loving and sharing our lives.
Like the ward, transformation is an on-going process – it is a daily choice to love. And as we choose life so we grow in Christ and begin to taste enough of God now to whet our appetite for the banquet. Relief, development and transformation activities without love will leave emptiness.
Teach us God to love as you love!
119 delegates from 16 countries joined us in Sri Lanka for a weak full of learning, sharing, challenging and fellowship. 80% of people were attending a Micah Network event for the first time and came away motivated and inspired to share with their colleagues and churches ideas for engaging holistically in their communities. We were challenged about reconciliation approaches, integral discipleship, inter-faith dialogue, justice and governance and learning to love and include those trapped in the margins of society.
The materials and resources from the Asia Consultation will be made available on our web site in the coming weeks, under www.micahnetwork.org/events
Thank you to LEADS who was our hosting member. They did a brilliant job of facilitating the consultation.
Hope for Creation
A Day of Prayer and Action on Climate Change (http://hopeforcreation.org/) took place on Sunday 6th November. Those who receive the weekly Prayer Focus will have been invited to join into this special prayer time alongside thousands of Christian from more than 30 countries.
To follow this leaders are requested to read the Tearfund Statement to Political Leaders on our Hope for Creation on behalf of their organisations. (Statement is available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish). Put your signature on this call to world leaders to act with urgency to tackle climate change.
The statement with our signatures will be delivered at the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 17) which is being held in Durban, South Africa
Please sign onto the letter by sending your name, position, organization and country to [email protected]by 14 November 2011. Please do pass on the statement to others in your national networks.
AIDS in India: Who cares anyway?
This book is part of a series in The Studies of the Gospel Interface with Indian Contexts. It gives a Biblical perspective on health HIV, care, our attitudes and the massive change in human sexual behaviour. It is meant to empower God's people with the right information about HOV. That there is no dichotomy between spiritual and social aspects of the Christian life. That both are integral to the Good News. So that we become good news to the poor and suffering. The church has to guard against just being a service provider and needs to be holistic in their approach.
CANA is pleased to make this book available to everyone who is keen to understand and respond to HIV.
Cost: Rs 300.00 plus postage in India. International orders: US $ 25.00 plus postage. Discounts available for larger orders.
Tearfund has fairly recently launched its programme for "Church and Community Mobilisation" which goes under the Swahili name of UMOJA. This has been launched in Uganda and elsewhere with very encouraging results.
It is now available in French, and will shortly be downloadable as individual sections.
Parenting: a Journey of Love
Strategies for Hope Trust have just published the 10th workbook in the Called to Care Toolkit. This 56 page manual is designed to inform and support parents, especially in countries where family life is being undermined by the AIDS epidemic.
This book was launched in early October at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland. The author, Malawian theologian Dr Fulata Moyo, spoke eloquently about how her personal experiences of raising three sons led her to write the book.
Written from a Christian perspective, 'Parenting: a journey of love' is structured around five 'parental roles' defined by the World Health Organization, based on a review of 34 projects from around the world. The contents include games, stories, Bible studies, poems, discussions and role plays. The book contains numerous line drawings by Zimbabwean artist, Mashet Ndhlovu.
What are the responsibilities of the affluent to address global poverty?
From 1973 to 2001 the Stegley Foundation was one of Australia's most progressive philanthropic organisations. Before winding up in 2001, it made a final grant to enable the Swinburne's Asia Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy to hold an annual commemorative lecture.
This year Professor Thomas Pogge will be delivering the 2011 Stegley Lecture. His topic is: What are the responsibilities of the affluent to address global poverty?
Professor Pogge holds a number of positions including Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale and Professorial Fellow at the Australian National University.
With Australian and international funding support he currently heads a team effort towards developing a complement to the pharmaceutical patent regime that would improve access to advanced medicines for the poor worldwide (www.healthimpactfund.org ) and toward developing better indices of poverty and gender equity.
Professor Pogge is one of the world's most ardent critics of global injustice. He is an exciting and controversial speaker who will raise important questions about the massive disparity between the relative wealth of most citizens in affluent countries and the profound poverty of people struggling elsewhere for survival. Do the governments of wealthy countries and their citizens perpetuate this injustice?
Event details: Thursday 24th November 2011 from 6.00pm – 7.30pm
Venue: 'Arrow on Swanston', 488 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Registration is free, but bookings are essential.
Please RSVP to (03) 9214 8384 or [email protected] by Tuesday 22nd November.
Partnering for Change Conference
Holistic transformation occurs as we combine our gifts and skills to work together, much like a cloth is made stronger by its many interwoven threads. CCDC and Micah Network warmly welcomes you to join with us at the Schönblick Conference Centre (not far from Stuttgart, Germany) to explore and wrestle through how we can partner and cooperate in our efforts to bring about positive change through our work in relief and development contexts.
Plenary speakers include: Joel Edwards, CB Samuel and Elisa Padilla.
Dates: 23rd to 27th April 2012
Location: Schönblick Conference Centre, Germany