Urban Shalom and Discipleship

Urban Shalom and Discipleship

by Ash Barker

Introduction

The world has rapidly changed and is challenging the very nature of Christian faith and mission as we know it. A fundamental change with significant implications for Christians is how and where humans live together. In 1800 only 3% of people lived in cities, but now more than half of all humans live in urban areas with over one third facing severe urban poverty. With over 70% of people predicted to be urbanites by 2050, the increased disparity, diversity and density of living will leave no person, place or culture untouched.

Areas of urban deprivation and poverty are especially complex places to make a long-term impact, but they are some of the most critical frontline contexts for mission today. A resilient and thoughtful theology and spirituality as well as innovative skills and frameworks are needed if effective, sustainable responses are to be found.

This week we will explore the nature and call of Christian discipleship as a core motif in response to these growing urban realities. Understanding the context we find ourselves is crucial in this, but much of this week’s notes will focus the significance of various conversions to help us centre on the risen Jesus and empower us to engage with his concerns as a way of faithful engagement from within these contexts. How can Christian discipleship inform and inspire our spirituality, practices and vision for our new urban world?

Download Here
Read more...

Climate Action is our Mandate

Climate Action is our Mandate

by The Eficor Team, India

Introduction

Things have changed. It has become much hotter. We no longer know when it will rain. The streams have dried up. The forests have been replaced by roads and instead of trees there are concrete jungles. These are just some of the things that we hear when we conduct workshops on Creation Care and ask people to think about the changes in their local environment. Not once have I heard anyone say that things have changed for the better. The changes are real and the changes are devastating. However, it is also true that for many of us things like Climate Change are (for now) just an inconvenience’. If it gets too hot, we will just place more air-conditioners in our homes and offices and run them as long as we need to. If it gets too cold, we will find ways of heating our homes better. And many will travel in air-conditioned cars protecting us from the extreme weather and pollution. And while some can 'shield' ourselves from the impact, Climate Change is making life harder for many around the world. Extreme weather events like floods – occurring ever more frequently - have led to huge losses for farmers. Unpredictable monsoons that either come too early or too late have consistently affected production. An inconvenience for some of us is a death sentence for many – especially the poor. Whatever the debates around Climate Change, however much our apathy to face it - should we not address this issue simply because the Bible talks about stewardship of creation and simply because the impact of Climate Change is affecting the poor the most? How about we – as stewards of God’s creation - inform, engage and challenge one another to stir to action and realise that Climate Change does matter – to us and to God. Read the article
Read more...

How am I impacting relationships?

How am I impacting relationships?

by Mandy Marshall

Introduction

It’s not often we stop and think about what we do, and how we do it, impacts on the relationships with those around us. In our busy lives we justify our words and actions without stopping to think about the consequences to others. This week we will remind ourselves of how precious every single one of us is in our identity in Christ, created equal in the image of God, and flourishing to be all God created us to be. We will look at the devastation caused when the image of God reflected in women is not respected which results in inequality, injustice and, at times, violence and abuse. As Christians our discipleship to Christ yearns us to call out injustice and act to bring about a change. I pray that this week will move and motivate you to listen and hear the heart of God on this injustice and leave you changed.

Read the article
Read more...

Challenging Injustice in Society

Challenging Injustice in Society

by Martin Kapenda

Introduction

During these first few days of October we will be looking at the prophetic ministry of the prophet Amos during a time of enormous inequality and injustice. The status quo was immoral and Amos was moved to speak up, even though he was not ‘officially’ a prophet. He was a farmer from a rural area who saw the social evil of the time and spoke up against it.

Amos came from Tekoa, a little village south of Jerusalem that was dependent on farming. After he encountered God it changed his view of society – he could not see things the same way as before, and as he changed, he challenged the society around him. He could not help but condemn the injustices he saw around him. I like the book of Amos, but it is a book that threatens me – it is a book that challenges the religious and political establishment. Let us discover why in these next few days as we look into Amos.

Read the article
Read more...

Devotion – Living a more just life final

Devotion - Living a more just life final

by  Linda Martindale

Introduction

Have you ever eaten a pizza without a topping? Or had popcorn without salt? Or had pap (mielie meal) without gravy? Bland, dull, hardly enticing! That is what the church is like without what has been labelled, social action or social justice. Someone introduced me as a ‘social justice Christian’ recently, and I said, I am a ‘love your neighbour Christian’ – not a social justice one. I guess people are trying to find language for what we know is the ‘whole gospel’. It is really just what Jesus called loving your neighbour, illustrated clearly in stories he told, such as the Good Samaritan. It is the full gospel, integral mission, as defined in the Micah Declaration – “Integral mission or holistic transformation is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other. Rather, in integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.”

Read the article
Read more...