Gree�ngs of love and peace to you all in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The September issue of INSiGHT comes at a �me when the world becomes more accessible with in-person ac�vi�es, face-to-face gatherings, more eased travels, and lessened Covid-19 restric�ons. Although the Covid-19 pandemic is slowly fading away, the adverse impacts it has caused on our socie�es are s�ll very much prevalent, especially among the poor and underprivileged, due to the socio-economic burdens they had to carry during the pandemic. In fact, they s�ll carry those burdens going into the post-pandemic world.
As we slowly begin unmasking ourselves, reducing the social distances, we also need to unmask the injus�ces, inequali�es, and all the structures that cause pain and suﬀering, reducing the widened gap between rich and poor. This must be the mission of the Church during this post-pandemic world.
It is in this context, we bring the September 2022 INSiGHT with the theme, “Mission in the post-Pandemic World”, with the reﬂec�ons on the challenges we are facing globally. Rev. Dr Karen Georgia Thompson gives a renewed call to a “mission that brings us into contact with the pain and suﬀering of the world as we bring the healing and compassion of God’s love to the world.” Highligh�ng the need for par�cipa�ng in a mission of caring for the crea�on in this post-pandemic world, she further reminds us that our lowering of Covid-19 face masks must be accompanied by the lowering of the masks that prevent us from being ac�ve par�cipants in caring for all of crea�on. On the other hand, Ms Jackline Makena cau�ons the church for losing its relevance during the post-pandemic world, especially among young people. She highlights that the church needs to ﬁnd its relevance among the young people and provide hope amidst the distress and hopelessness caused by the pandemic.
In addi�on, this INSiGHT also brings various reports from the CWM ac�vi�es, including the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar (PCM) Partners’ Round Table Mee�ng report, various reﬂec�ons on the recent WCC 11th Assembly and the news of CWM member churches, etc. In retrospect, we also brought back two ar�cles from Dr Rogate Mshana and Dr Park Seong-Won, as they s�ll speak to our current context.
We thank all the contributors for their �me and energy in sending these ar�cles. We strongly believe and pray that these reports, news, reﬂec�ons, and ar�cles published in this issue of INSiGHT may bring new insights into your journey forward.
May the grace and peace of the Lord be with you.Rev. Dileep Kumar Kandula Mission Secretary-General Secretariat Council for World Mission
AT A GLANCE
CWM organises Roundtable Meeting for the partners of Presbyterian Church of Myanmar
of Myanmar (PCM) and its partners from 2-3 August 2022 at Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy Hotel. It brought together PCM leaders, its partners from Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, PC(USA), PC (Ireland), CWM East Asia member church delegates and the CWM Moderator Rev. Lydia Neshangwe to discuss and discern how as a global network of churches and ecumenical partners, they could strategise their solidarity and support with PCM.
Rev. Phil King, the Chairperson of PCM Partners, delivered his opening address; Rev. Ramthanga shared passionately about the situation in Myanmar and invites members of PCM Partners to explore ways of journeying with one another.
Chris�ans for demonstra�ng prophe�c witness in their resistance against the oppressive military regime and providing loving care towards the community as a priority.
During the introduc�on, CWM General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum welcomed the delegates and guests to the mee�ng, where he aﬃrmed that the Chris�an community must cling on to hope and pray for the deliverance of the Myanmar people from tyranny and discern prac�cal and strategic ways of assistance. Referring to his earlier speech during CWM’s World Day of Prayer for Myanmar held virtually this year, he commended the Myanmar
This was followed by opening worship and prayer by Rev. Julie Sim, Mission Secretary – Mission Programme & Partnership at CWM, and the opening address by Rev. Philip King, the Chairperson of PCM Partners and Global Mission Coordinator from Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).
Subsequently, PCM General Secretary Rev. Ramthanga shared updates of the Myanmar situa�on as well as PCM’s ministry through its Covid and Crisis Response Commi�ee (CCRC) to support vic�ms of the Spring Revolu�on. The CCRC is working closely with Agape Hospital staﬀ and volunteers to care for Internally Displaced Personsouncil for World Mission (CWM) held a Roundtable Mee�ng for Presbyterian Church "Dr Keum thanked members of PCM Partners for meeting here in Singapore and delivered his welcome address."
(IDP), and has collaborated with their partners to vaccinate PCM staﬀ followed by their congrega�on. In addi�on, Rev. Ramthanga highlighted the PCM’s current needs of space and buildings for an oxygen generator as part of the pandemic response, as well as the Agape Reloca�on Project in the Children Development Centre.
As for development of theological and secular educa�on and other development programmes, Tahan Theological College (TTC) lecturer Rev. Ling Zaw delineated several areas of need - spiritual and ﬁnancial support for 93 theology students; a full-�me educator to conduct a B.A English programme, and PCM’s involvement in an income-genera�ng TTC Farm Project, among others. In addi�on, the delegates received responses and input on the Myanmar crisis from the ASEAN perspec�ve through a verbal report presented by Rev. Julie Sim.
Upon receiving these reports, the delegates made queries about TTC’s staﬀ strength and breakdown of students, other theological colleges near TTC, and on the farming project. PCM delegates shared that TTC is well-recognised and popular among applicants for admission to theological ins�tu�ons, and there will be a work-based scholarship where students involved in farm work are eligible for sponsorship for their studies. In terms of urgency and priority, Rev. Ramthanga indicated that Covid vaccines for PCM congrega�on members would take precedence over provision of masks and medical equipment at the moment. Apart from these, they men�oned a planned tree-plan�ng project to raise funds, and voiced diﬃcul�es they currently face in procuring NRSV Bibles for theological students.
During the plenary discussions, the par�cipants delved into exploring various digital means to facilitate teaching and access to theological resources for the students, and building teaching and infrastructural capacity to do so. A sugges�on was made to ini�ate conversa�on with a suitable theological ins�tu�on to seek a formal partnership and commitment, and pre-recorded lectures to circumvent internet connec�vity issues going forward.
In addi�on, the delegates spoke about prac�cal challenges in their respec�ve contexts, and viable alterna�ves to support the brothers and sisters in Myanmar ﬁnancially and academically by providing scholarships, as well as accommoda�on for TTC lecturers. Besides voicing support for this project, the CWM General Secretary Dr Keum outlined several broad areas of collabora�on with partners such as contribu�ng experience in curriculum development; strengthening PCM’s healthcare capacity by assis�ng with the Agape Hospital’s
reloca�on and expansion into a 100-bedder facility, con�nuing exis�ng work on scholarships and inves�ng in capacity building for women.
Rev. Philip Peacock, Ac�ng General Secretary for Programmes at World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) spoke about WCRC’s theological scholarships for women, and their emergency grants including direct cash for emerging areas of crisis. A medium-term response could be to speaking at interna�onal forums to explore advocacy work for Myanmar.
The next day, PCM Women and Youth Secretary Mrs Van Lal Hming Sangi presented a report on the current situa�on of Presbyterian Women General Secretary (PWGC) and highlighted their achievements since the last roundtable mee�ng. She shared about how female church members and degree holders in the various synods have decreased due to diﬃcul�es arising from the pandemic. Despite this, women from several synods increased their contribu�on of rice; assisted IDPs, and oﬀered nurse-aid training and voca�onal tailoring training annually. Looking ahead, they plan to provide training for all synod women secretaries to build their capacity for ministry in church and society, strengthen partnerships with other organisa�ons within and outside Myanmar, and reach out to vic�ms of child abuse during the Covid lockdown and poli�cal conﬂict in the community.
Having concerns raised about substance abuse among youth, Mrs Sangi said that PCM is running drug awareness campaigns in villages. In the face of this challenge, PCM youths have worked on a MSP4 (Mission Support Programme) project for youth music training and volunteered to assist in
community vaccina�on. Going forward, they intend to explore voca�onal training such as ﬁrst-aid and tailoring, as well as crea�on of job opportuni�es for youth.
ABOVE:Rev. Philip Peacock, Acting General Secretary for Programme of World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) afﬁrmed the ecumenical partnership and mission initiatives in solidarity with our siblings in Myanmar. Mrs Van Lal Hming Sangi, PCM Women & Youth Secretary, presented her report on the situation and challenges faced by the women and young people in the community.
Council for World Mission (CWM) Moderator Rev. Lydia Neshangwe, who was in Singapore to par�cipate in the Presbyterian Church in Myanmar (PCM) Partners’ Roundtable Mee�ng, preached an enriching sermon during the CWM’s weekly staﬀ devo�on on 1 August 2022 at 5 P.M Singapore Time at the CWM Headquarters in Singapore. Led by Rev. Dileep Kumar Kandula, it was a successful hybrid gathering where local staﬀ a�ended in person and staﬀ based overseas joined virtually via Zoom.
The devo�on commenced with an opening prayer and hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, followed by the Scripture reading from John 1:6-9. The CWM Moderator began her inspiring sermon by recoun�ng an interview where she was asked a thought-provoking ques�on by the panel, “Who are you?”
She spoke on the topic of having a healthy sense of self-iden�ty, and the worldly, transient ways people o�en base their core iden�ty and deﬁne themselves by in the world. Some people believe they are their achievements, which may be irrelevant in some contexts. She highlighted that our iden�ty must not be deﬁned by the worldly possessions and a�ributes as they are changing and temporary.
She then shared a “three-way deﬁni�on of self” – origin, value and purpose. Firstly, each of us is made in God’s image, and deﬁned as a child of God, challenged to tes�fy to who God is within us. This should banish feelings of condemna�on, inferiority, and negate imperialism, unfair immigra�on laws and ethnic cleansing.
Secondly, we are deﬁned by our inherent value, and what we have been given or value-added by God. No nega�ve experiences in our homes, workplaces and society diminishes our value as we are precious and important to God. Thirdly, we are deﬁned by our God-given purpose, like how John knew that his purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus, and to prepare the hearts of the people of Christ to hear the good news.
The CWM Moderator ended her sermon by reminding the staﬀ that God has a purpose for each of them – a vessel made by God, imbued with God-given value - in CWM and encouraged them to ﬁnd and fulﬁl their speciﬁc, individual purpose.
In her closing prayer, Rev. Neshangwe prayed that the CWM staﬀ will be energised by God, to be blessings to others, and those in the regions they are serve, and for special wisdom and protec�on of spirit and heart for the CWM General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum.
The CWM General Secretary thanked the Moderator on behalf of all present, and welcomed Mr Sudipta Singh, who began his work as CWM Deputy General Secretary – Programme on 1 August 2022.
Rising up – Letting Go - Packing for the banquetby Rev. Dr. Peter Cruchley
Twenty-three representatives of the Europe Region member churches met with CWM staff, CWM scholars and Partners in Mission to reflect on ‘Rising up – Letting Go- Packing for the banquet’ from 28 June – 1 July 2022. We met to read our experiences as churches in daily dialogue with the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8.
Discovering our way …
Covid revealed to us again the deep inequali�es in our socie�es and exposed systemic sickness which needs to be addressed. There is pressure to get back to normal now. But it has le� many feeling weary and unwilling to return to the pa�erns of life before the pandemic hit. This has had consequences for many parts of our lives, including our churches. The par�cipants reﬂected on how our �mes are calling us to rise up and place ourselves at the side of the Ethiopian Eunuch and his fellows resis�ng racial and gender-based violence.
But to rise up calls on us to let go. To let go of privileges and systems, worries and interests which keep delivering the same rewards and returns to the chosen few. Be that in our economies, our socie�es our churches. The interconnected struggles for climate jus�ce, racial jus�ce and gender jus�ce all emerge from a mul�versal system we need to out think, out create, out live and out love, but to do so presses us to take up new ways of thinking, believing and following than this system has allowed us to model as churches today. Philip knew there were many reasons why the Ethiopian should not haveEurope Regional Assembly: 'Moving up' by post-colonial British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire)
been bap�sed, but they had in fact opened the Scripture to Philip in such a new way, that Philip let go of the old rules to construct a community of followers who rejoiced in each other and crossed borders to signify the new world which is coming.
Pack for the banquet
Christ has le� behind him the tombs of Babylon and stepped forth into the ﬁrst day of the new Heaven and new Earth. He bids us follow, to come together as communi�es which show how life can ﬂourish s�ll. All that we are called to lay down is in order to take up gi�s we can generously share that signify God’s coming new world. Philip and the Ethiopian had so much to share anew because of their encounter and how Christ had radically connected them.
Imagining our way …
Par�cipants reﬂected on the artwork of ‘Yinka Shonibare CBE (Commander of the Order of the Bri�sh Empire)’ who is a Post-colonial Bri�sh Nigerian ar�st whose work exposes the legacies of empire and slavery in our lives now. In many diﬀerent images he confronts complici�es with empire but also models what playful subversive resistance looks like. In his image ‘Moving Up’ we saw a sign of the impact of returning resources which have been stolen from genera�ons of African and African descendent people. We see a family gleefully take up home in the houses that had been built on the proﬁt from their bodies, labour and resources and were encouraged again to see the joyful release which can follow from repara�on and restora�on.
Par�cipants also worked with Rhodri Darcy a ﬁlm producer and photographer from the Union of Welsh Independents (UWI) to capture in video reﬂec�ons and observa�ons to help the Region move further forward in its work together.
Rethinking discipleship from the Grassroots …
The Regional Assembly (RA) included an exposure visit to Luton Grassroots and it had a powerful impact on the group. The solidari�es developed between the faith communi�es in Luton has prompted radical ac�on rooted in the jus�ce issues of our �me. Work is ongoing which addresses issues like racism and Islamophobia, poverty and depriva�on, gender jus�ce and climate ac�on. The power of this solidarity was especially embodied in the moment the faith community leaders who came together to face down a march led by racist far right ac�vists. The hospitality the group received from
the Sikh Gurdwara and the Muslim informa�on centre challenged all of the group to consider how hospitable and generous Chris�an communi�es are and have been, especially to vulnerable communi�es.
Planning our way …
If Europe is going to rise up, let go and prepare a banquet of the world who is coming there seemed some ac�ons we need to take ranging from
Break our moulds
Listen inten�onally … Especially to not the usual “suspects”!
Focus on what we can do … Partner for what we can’t …
Live out Christ’s ‘counter community’ now by seeking out solidarity with others
Europe needs to work more inten�onally on Racial Jus�ce, Gender Jus�ce and Climate Jus�ce as well as discover new models for Church life and community that move us beyond our preoccupa�ons with decline and our limita�ons because of Covid.
Rev. Dr Michael Jagessar and Sai were thanked for their work amongst the Region and incoming staﬀ from CWM were entrusted with the rela�onships created with the Region and to begin to shape an agenda and plan for the Region to work on together in the coming �me.
Feeling our way …
The Assembly highlighted many things, but especially the deep feeling, connec�ng and hearing that occurred between the Ethiopian Eunuch and Philip, between the communi�es of Luton and within the par�cipants. This seems to be the seat of our libera�on that sends us on an exodus through the a�er life of Empire we are s�ll living. Karen Campbell, who par�cipated as theological reﬂector, wrote this poem in the event:
“I heard the cry of my people in Egypt.”
Open our eyes
Open our ears
Open our minds to what is wrong.
What needs to change
Who needs to change Why, God? When?
“I heard the cry of my people in Egypt.” But you didn’t just hear –You felt.
Your compassion stirred to your very core.
“I heard the cry of my people in Egypt.”
Your people are crying Screaming! Dying! Their groans –our groans? –rising to your ears. Today.
Who needs to change?
What needs to change? What do you feel? You know. God knows! Do we? Do we hear? Do we feel?
And how do we know? How does anyone know? Move us with the agony of reality –or the reality of agony –Until we are stirred to our very core And rise like the cries of all God’s people For all God’s people. Today.
©Karen Campbell, June 2022
Drawing on Europe Regional Assembly Conversations
Praying our way…
God-of-fresh-bread-and-new-wine: kindle in our hearts all that is good and just draw us to listen for your voice, s�r us to rise up and speak your prophe�c word so that our ac�ons may match your purpose of goodness.
Awake and renew in us: witness that is bold, love that is deep and expansive, and faith that overﬂows with jus�ce and integrity. And empowered by your maverick Spirit, grant us the courage we need to let go into the adventure of your way of full and abundant life for all crea�on. Amen
First two women ministers ordained by Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu (EKT) in historic decision
Such voices of suﬀering range from leaders in the Paciﬁc lamen�ng rising sea levels, those in Bangladesh and Sydney weeping over homes submerged by ﬂoods, to residents in Spain, Portugal and France crying out for help to ﬁght wildﬁres, wrote the PCANZ Moderator. As such, he urged individuals and communi�es to take ac�on through prayer, sustainability projects, and advocacy during this Season. This can take the form of hos�ng ecumenical prayer gatherings, clean-up projects, and leading or par�cipa�ng in ongoing campaigns such as the fossil fuel divestment movement. Finally, Rt Rev. Galloway highlighted that at successive assemblies, PCANZ has commi�ed to support ac�ons of caring for crea�on such as Eco Church.
Visit https://seasonofcreation.org for more information and resources.
In a historic moment for Tuvalu, two women, Rev. Oliula Kalaha� and Rev. Sulufaiga Uota were ordained as ministers of Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu (EKT) in special ceremonies on 16 July. They join 41 ministers in EKT’s parishes, and this comes more than a century a�er missionaries arrived in Tuvalu under the London Missionary Society.
Elders remarked that the inclusion of women in ordained ministry will be a step towards democra�sa�on of the 10,000-strong church which has 28 parishes at home and abroad.
“We pray for the newly ordained ministers and for a greater understanding on the role of women in church and society,” said Paciﬁc Conference of Churches (PCC) General Secretary Rev. James Bhagwan in his congratulatory message.
Visit https://bit.ly/3csqdWK for more information.
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) Moderator’s Message: Season of Creation 2022
Church of Bangladesh (COB)’s Reverse Osmosis (RO) programme for safe drinking water
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) Moderator Right Rev Hamish Galloway has released a message for The Season of Crea�on, an annual ecumenical celebra�on of prayer and ac�on for our common home. Observed from September 1 to October 4, this year’s theme is “Listening to the Voice of Crea�on.”
400 families will beneﬁt from a Reverse Osmosis plant at Kanainagor, the St. Jacob Church (COB) compound in Mongla Upazilla, which is introduced by Shalom, a development organisa�on of Church of Bangladesh (COB). Due to the impact climate change and rising sea levels, the area has been inundated with salt water. With fresh water becoming increasingly scarce, the Mongla community had been drinking unsafe pond water for a long �me, and this water treatment project par�ally solves the issue of safe drinking water in the community.
Also, Shalom is implemen�ng an inclusive WASH (Water, Sanita�on and Hygiene) programme in schools in Barishal, Khulna, and Bagerhat Districts, in addi�on to its regular programme. This project is aimed at safe water and sanita�on services, and has installed chamber toilets for 1,500 students, teachers, the church community, and households without safe drinking water facili�es.Photo by Walter Pulogo
Congregational Federation joins Safeguarding Sunday campaign
Congrega�onal Federa�on will join thousands of other churches in UK to take part in Safeguarding Sunday on 20 November, a na�onal campaign to raise awareness of protec�ng vulnerable children and adults. It is organised by Chris�an safeguarding charity thirtyoneeight.org whose mission is to “employ every means to keep vulnerable people safe, heard and no�ced”, and focuses on advocacy, defending their rights, and to dignify the des�tute. Church workers can register to download a free resource pack, which includes child-friendly ac�vi�es to help them to understand that their voice ma�ers and will be heard.
Jus�n Humphreys, Joint Chief Execu�ve at Thirtyone:eight, said, “Safeguarding Sunday is a chance to shine a light on what so many churches are doing to make places of worship safer. We mustn’t forget that protec�ng vulnerable people is at the heart of the Chris�an message of jus�ce and hope.”
United Reformed Church (URC) among signatories of open letter urging government to fulﬁl promise towards Afghans
The United Reformed Church (URC) has joined Together with Refugees and over 100 organisa�ons in an open le�er calling on the UK government to fulﬁl its promise towards Afghans who have safely evacuated and provide safe routes for those at risk in Afghanistan. A year since Kabul fell to the Taleban, thousands of families who were safely evacuated are s�ll living in hotels unable to rebuild their lives, and many Afghans at risk are making perilous journeys due to the promised safe routes being “slow and restric�ve”, the le�er stated. It also referred to the Afghan Ci�zens Rese�lement Scheme and the Afghan Reloca�ons and Assistance Policy (ARAP), remarking the number of those seeking evacua�on have greatly outnumbered those who have been rese�led.
Simeon Mitchell, URC Secretary for Church and Society and Interim Team Leader of the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT), said: “Churches and community groups have been reaching out to Afghan families in
hotels, oﬀering all sorts of provision and kindness –embodying the posture of welcome that the Bible demands of God’s people. But the government needs to urgently do more, both to help Afghans already here and to enable others at risk to get to the UK safely.”
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) calls for ecumenical action for justice and peace during its workshop at WCC Assembly
The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) conducted a Brunnen workshop on the theme “From Interna�onal Isola�on to Witnessing for Na�onal Dignity and Human Rights” during the 11th World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly on 5 September. Sounding a clarion call for the ecumenical movement to take resolute ac�on for a just and par�cipatory society in Taiwan, three PCT delegates addressed topics such as China’s ongoing role in interna�onal isola�on of Taiwan, areas in which PCT has contributed to the world, and an indigenous perspec�ve emphasizing respect for the culture and mission of the indigenous community in Taiwan.
The ﬁrst presenter, Rev. Dr Kong-hi Lo, a professor at Tainan Theological College, spoke about Taiwanese hardships arising from the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s aggression, and that the “One China Policy” is a ﬂagrant disrespect of human rights in Taiwan. Trapped and unjustly isolated from interna�onal circles, Taiwan’s a�empts to build diploma�c rela�ons with other countries, and to join interna�onal ins�tu�ons such as World Health Organisa�on (WHO) and United Na�ons (UN) have been consistently thwarted by China. As a result, a mere 14 countries have maintained its rela�onships with Taiwan.
He spoke about the youth-led Taiwan Sunﬂower Movement (2014) and Hong Kong Umbrella Movement where they stood up to poli�cal pressure and requested for transparency in elec�ons, as well as being a strong support during the 2019 Hong Kong An�-Extradi�on protests where they rendered aid in secret for casual�es and protesters by supplying helmets, respiratory masks, medical care and even shelter and housing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, PCT raised NT$1.4-million dona�ng masks to partner churches and supported global allies with medical goods such as ven�lators, infrared thermometers and personal protec�ve equipment. Within a short �me, Taiwan raised 4.2 million Euros (NT$129 million) of funding in aid of Ukraine, and manufactured and delivered 154 medical beds to Kiev on 24 August, Ukraine’s Na�onal Day.
Subsequently, Umav Ispalakan, a delegate from indigenous community, recounted a common childhood story of teachers persuading indigenous children to leave their tribes to go to the city for be�er educa�onal opportuni�es. As a community which cons�tutes two percent of Taiwan’s popula�on of over 23 million, she shared that many young indigenous people have similar stories of suﬀering and oppression, such as not being allowed to speak their dialect, or register their indigenous names in the na�onal iden�ﬁca�on system. Having faced discrimina�on, exploita�on, and loss of land rights, witnessing Taiwan President Tsai Ing Wen as the ﬁrst leader to make a formal apology to the indigenous peoples was a milestone, and they have con�nued the struggle for preserva�on of their cultural heritage. As part of its indigenous mission, PCT is working towards preserving the dialects of indigenous communi�es by transla�ng the Bible into their language.
Finally, Yu-en Wang, a delegate who has been ac�vely involved in CWM’s Asia Youth Ini�a�ves (AYI) spoke passionately about Taiwan’s ability to contribute to movements of democracy and equality in regional and even interna�onal contexts.
The common thread running through the PCT’s presenta�ons was that of resilient hope, concrete ac�on, and an appeal for ecumenical ac�on in standing up against authoritarian regimes and to stand for the oppressed in achieving peace and jus�ce for all. During the Q&A session, they received encouragement from workshop par�cipants and partners, as well as ﬁelded ques�ons from about the repercussions of speaking up strongly against China before the closing prayer by the PCT General Secretary Rev. Tan Hsih Liang.
The CWM has been working with the PCT’s Taiwan Ecumenical Forum (TEF) together with World Communion Reformed Churches (WCRC). The General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, has been serving the TEF as its co-convenor together with Rev. Chris Ferguson, former General Secretary of the WCRC. In the contest of rising neo-cold war and various conﬂicts, TEF, in collabora�on with the CWM, WCRC and other ecumenical partners advocates for peace and jus�ce not only in Taiwan but also in the other parts of Asia region.
Council for World Mission Exhibition Booth Generates Missional Conversations at WCC 11th Assembly
Council for World Mission (CWM) Moderator Rev. Lydia Neshangwe and General Secretary, Rev Dr .Jooseop Keum, oﬃcially opened the CWM Exhibi�on booth at the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) on 31 August, 1:30 P.M (CET). Gathered together in prayer were CWM’s delegates to the Assembly, Deputy General Secretary –Programmes, Dr. Sudipta Singh, and Mission Secretaries to dedicate this outdoor exhibi�on stand.
The WCC Assembly was being held under the theme, “Christ’s love moves the world to reconcilia�on and unity”, and CWM was among WCC ecumenical partners, networks and member churches invited to set up exhibi�ons to showcase their programmes and work as part of the Brunnen Programme.
CWM’s physical presence was a visible extension of its par�cipa�on at the WCC Assembly, and presented it with an excellent opportunity to communicate its new programma�c structure and highlight and promote CWM areas of focus. The booth, with its life-sized banners on The Onesimus Project (TOP), Partner-in-Mission (PIM) andABOVE: CWM Moderator Rev. Lydia Neshangwe and General Secretary, Rev Dr Jooseop Keum, ofﬁcially opened the CWM Exhibition booth at the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches.
eDARE, received visits by Assembly par�cipants from countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Greece, Korea, New Zealand, and Norway on its ﬁrst exhibi�on day and generated s�mula�ng missional conversa�ons among visitors. The exhibi�on tent was also a space to network and engage with visitors and partners such as United Evangelical Mission (UEM) General Secretary Rev. Volker Mar�n Dally.
Praying for God’s blessing upon the work and upon all the people they will meet, discuss and converse with, the CWM Moderator noted the “wonderful reunion” with some visitors whom they are already acquainted. On behalf of CWM, Rev. Neshangwe gave thanks for “this God-given opportunity to be able to tell the world about CWM and the work we are doing, and to relate to other organisa�ons and churches that will be exhibited here”.
LEFT: CWM General Secretary, Rev Dr Jooseop Keum with guests including (UEM) General Secretary Rev. Volker Martin Dally; Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, our eDARE 2022 panelist
CWM’s physical presence was a visible extension of its participation at the WCC Assembly, and presented it with an excellent opportunity to communicate its new programmatic structure and highlight and promote CWM areas of focus.
RIGHT: CWM Moderator Rev. Lydia Neshangwe browsing the collaterals and publications at the booth.
Rising and Flourishing with Life a keymessage at CWM Workshop duringWCC 11th Assembly
Over 50 par�cipants of the 11th World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly from all over the world a�ended a Brunnen Workshop conducted by Council for World Mission (CWM) on 1st September at Mühlburg Room in Leonardo Hotel Karlsruhe.
Opened with the words of welcome by Rev. Julie Sim and opening prayer by CWM Moderator, Rev. Lydia Neshangwe, the workshop helped the par�cipants to gain understanding of key elements of CWM’s mission theology and its theme of “life-ﬂourishing communi�es” and generated very engaging conversa�ons on various aspects of CWM’s mission and theology.
A�er Rev. Lydia Neshangwe provided an overview of CWM and its vision, mission, values and global mission context, CWM Mission Secretary Rev. Michael Jagessar presented CWM’s Theological & Missiological Framework. He explained that “life-ﬂourishing” is a key mo�f for CWM’s mission and radical discipleship, and through this, CWM challenges oppressive systems of empire. He further expounded on life-ﬂourishing crea�on, church in ac�on, educa�on, economy, ecumenism, evangelism, socie�es, spirituali�es, and growth and advancement. In this was also an invita�on to fellow pilgrims to engage in ways that are jus�ce suppor�ng and peace aﬃrming.
CWM Deputy General Secretary – Programmes, Dr Sudipta Singh, explained that CWM considers The Onesimus Project (TOP) as a missional impera�ve and seeks to facilitate member churches’ eﬀorts in joining CWM in its act of repentance and repara�on for the legacies of slavery; iden�fying modern forms of slavery and racial injus�ce in their speciﬁc contexts; advocacy for empowerment and libera�on; and transforma�ve ecumenism.
Having taken the ini�a�ve to engage member churches in this work, CWM recognises that the work requires wider ecumenical partnership to advocate for reparatory jus�ce, systemic change,Words of welcome by Rev. Julie Sim Dr Sudipta Singh, presenting on The Onesimus Project (TOP).
and jus�ce-centred mission to the wider missiological and ecumenical community, Dr Singh added.
The presenta�ons drew robust engagement, ques�ons and discussion from par�cipants. These ranged from apprecia�on for CWM’s commitment to inclusiveness and equality, queries on youth involvement in TOP, to helping communi�es begin the conversa�on on and come to terms with its history of perpetua�ng slavery, and the hierarchy of racism. It was emphasized that CWM is not prescribing what communi�es can or should do, and is interested to listen, work with and learn together in repara�on and advocacy.
In the closing prayer, the CWM General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum thanked God for the opportunity to conduct this workshop and engage with the par�cipants on the diﬃcult contemporary issues of slavery as well as missional challenges, and for providing divine courage and empowerment of the Holy Spirit to face our history, knowing we will be liberated by the grace of Jesus Christ our Liberator.
The workshop drew posi�ve feedback from par�cipants such as Rev. Dr Eunha Kim of Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK), who commended CWM for a “well-organised and well-prepared workshop” and noted CWM’s eﬀorts to develop and forge a future diﬀerent from that of its forebear London Missionary Society (LMS).
Rev. Julie thanked all the par�cipants for their par�cipa�on and input to further the work of CWM and its theology. She assured that the CWM will con�nue to engage with the global ecumenical partners in various areas to bring jus�ce for the oppressed communi�es.
The presentations drew robust engagement, questions and discussion from participants. These ranged from appreciation for CWM’s commitment to inclusiveness and equality, queries on youth involvement in TOP, to helping communities begin the conversation on and come to terms with its history of perpetuating slavery, and the hierarchy of racism.ABOVE: CWM Mission Secretary Rev. Dr Michael Jagessar presenting CWM’s Theological & Missiological Framework; over 50 participants attended the CWM workshop.
CWM General Secretary calls fortransforming discipleship during plenarysession at 11th WCC Assembly
“With growing inequality and injustice in today’s world, it seems that no one dares to confront the false god of mammon. To be authentic discipleships of Jesus Christ today, it is our calling to critically and actively interfere with global hegemony of the economy’s mighty power,” said Council for World Mission (CWM) General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum in a thematic plenary session on Christian unity and the churches’ common witness during the 11th World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany.
This thema�c plenary session was a pla�orm for panelists to share their reﬂec�ons on and mount a resounding call for unity in diversity, highlight churches’ ecumenical work in diverse contexts around the world, and the new horizons for the mission of the Church in the ecumenical movement.
The CWM General Secretary spoke about the 14th World Mission Conference in 2018, where over 1,200 delegates explored what missionary calling in terms of transforming discipleship meant and it culminated in the Arusha Call to Discipleship.
“Transforming discipleship is a calling towards a celebra�on of life in its fullness with the people in their speciﬁc context and communi�es, and the Arusha Call to Discipleship provided signposts and direc�ons for renewal of mission in unity in our �me. It compels us to confront false gods where the economy reigns supreme, and human life is measured in terms of economic u�lity,” added Dr Keum.
There is a yearning for transforming discipleship that can bring reconcilia�on and healing, and as transforming disciples, we must re-discover our faith at the margins. In today’s deeply wounded and troubled world, the survival of ﬁ�est is the only func�onal rule. For many people, the accumula�on of wealth is the only way to protect their lives and sa�sfy their desire for power. However, the people of faith do not believe that the power of God’s love is inferior to the power of money, said Dr Keum.
He emphasized that a key goal of unity and mission should be to reﬂect on how we understand and give expression of the power of God’s love to defeat poli�cs of hatred, the evil of division, and the culture of fear.
In addi�on, the Kenya Conference of Bishops in the Catholic Church, Evangelicals, and Na�onal Council of Churches in Kenya have made visible eﬀorts towards unity, and a press statement was issued, appealing to the government for cohesion and unity of purpose.
During this �me of world crisis where “the luxurious expense of Chris�an division is no longer aﬀordable”, Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Rev. Jus�n Welby issued a challenge to all present: re-discover the spiritual passion for ecumenism, to face fears of each other and of the world together, to love one another with Christ’s love, and to work together in common witness towards greater unity, in solidarity with those suﬀering. We are called to oﬀer our obedience to God in humility, to seek afresh the unity – in the diversity and richness of God’s crea�on – to which we are all called to.
H.E. Most Rev. Brian Farrell, secretary of the Va�can’s Dicastery for Promo�ng Chris�an Unity and vice-president of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Rela�ons with Judaism, spoke about how the work on transforming discipleship is crucial in deepening our ecumenism. To avoid a unilateral approach in ecumenical work, it is important to remember that we are the recipients of divine grace beyond our plans, our poli�cal, social and humanitarian ac�vi�es. While these ac�vi�es are our obliga�ons and our duty, it is the grace of Christ that will bring us to reconcilia�on and unity, he reminded.
Rev. Canon Dr Rosemary Muthoni Mbogo, delegate and provincial secretary of the Anglican Church of Kenya said that in the African context, churches have demonstrated remarkable unity in worship, and programma�c areas of environment and social jus�ce, as well as humanitarian interven�on undertaken collec�vely in communi�es in need. On top of joint humanitarian eﬀorts, the Roman Catholic Church, mainstream churches and Pentecostals have met to discuss and raise their voices to advocate for their social concerns, educa�on, health and economy on a na�onal level.Archbishop of Cantebury The Most Rev. Justin Welby H.E. Most Rev. Brian Farrell Ash Wednesday at St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso (KFOX14/CBS4)
Lowering the Masks: Mission in a Post-Pandemic World
© 2022 by Karen Georgia A. Thompson. Used with permission.
The COVID-19 health pandemic con�nues to linger and with it the related uncertain�es of eradica�on or full healing from the sickness, grief, and suﬀering inﬂicted globally upon humanity. For the past two and a half years, the world has been gripped with the ravages of the illness and with it the ampliﬁca�on of the cries for jus�ce from the margins of our socie�es. In the midst of death, pain and suﬀering, those who are among the most vulnerable have been adversely aﬀected by the challenges of living through this global health crisis.
As the lockdowns, masks mandates and social isola�on necessary to reduce exposure to the virus persisted, the poor became poorer. Women and children were further displaced in the quest for equity and access.
Unemployment increased and with it the cost of living. One survey indicated poor urban household may have fared the worst, with the pandemic increasing inequi�es in urban areas. (https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/impact-covid-19-po verty-and-inequality-evidence-phone-surveys).
Health dispari�es are on the rise and equal access to health care con�nues to be a problem for many. The cries for vaccine equity joined the tears and cries for equity in many other areas. With some schools moving to internet-based learning during the pandemic, access to technology and internet proved challenging for many whose educa�on was interrupted in the process. Access to mobile phones, Wi-Fi, computers and tablets are not the same for all. These are but a few of the global reali�es.
While the pandemic exacerbated the living condi�ons for “the least of these” (Ma�hew 25:40), the challenges of the pandemic also pointed a spotlight on the pre-pandemic injus�ces and experiences of vulnerable popula�ons, many of whom were rendered invisible in our communi�es. Jesus said: “The poor you will always have with you” (Ma�hew 26:11).
The poor are more than those who lack suﬃcient money to live and provide for their basic needs. There are layers of poverty which are genera�onal and situa�onal. Living in poverty aﬀects body, mind and spirit. Being poor is also intersec�onal. Poverty intersects with a myriad of other social challenges: racial injus�ce, gender inequality, all forms of discrimina�on, climate injus�ce, economy of life, and much more.
The pandemic highlighted the seismic fault lines of injus�ce which are present and o�en masked among us. These injus�ces were rendered invisible and in some ways even normalized among us, as a part of our social structures, causing them to be overlooked. This normalizing of poverty and inequi�es is a reading of Jesus’ words in a way that lacks compassion and concern.
There is nothing normal about the brokenness, pain and suﬀering evident in the world. There is nothing normal about the presence of the poor and the pandemics of poverty and hunger. There is nothing normal about the wounding and heartbreak experienced from living lives which are deprived of human rights, dignity and respect. There is nothing normal in not exhibi�ng love, care, and compassion which we are called to oﬀer as Chris�ans bringing a gospel of love, hope and peace to the world. There is nothing normal in watching sea waters rise, glaciers melt, watching food deserts grow in communi�es, and water run to a trickle as droughts prevail.
There is hope ahead for a post-pandemic world where COVID-19 no longer dominates our news, a world where all are vaccinated and healthy. This post-pandemic world will see a lowering of the masks from our faces and gatherings will lose the fear of contagion. The lowering of the masks will render our faces visible, and we will be present once again as we were in the past.
As we lower the masks from our faces, the call to the church in this moment is for a new normal, an orienta�on to mission that calls us to lower the masks covering injus�ces, a call for us to be inten�onal in service and mission with those on the margins. The call to mission in a post-pandemic world lies before us, how will we walk this journey together?
A Call to a New Normal
The 2020 CWM eDARE (Discernment and Radical Engagement) conference convened mere months a�er the start of the pandemic under the theme “daring God-talk: what is normal?” The conference provided the opportunity for theologians to ponder the theme in the context of a world that was in the early throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the early wrestling with the desire to “return to normal”.
As a poet and theologian, I was asked to reﬂect on the thought provoking and inspiring presenta�ons and provide a poe�c response. Across the presenta�ons and discussions of the conference, there was the challenge to what it means to be “normal” and to the expressed desire by billions to “return to normal” as quickly as possible, as individuals and communi�es �red of restric�ve COVID-19 protocols and mandates.
“Doing Theology in the New Normal: Global Perspectives” captured some of the resul�ng challenges and opportuni�es to the church as the theologians
witnessed the adversi�es in their communi�es due to the pandemic.
The quest for normal was expressed in the desire to see the lockdowns and curfews li�ed, to experience the freedom of coming and going without the burden of mask mandates and physical distancing, and the longing to travel and socialize without the threat of succumbing to the growing reality of severe illness or death if one caught the virus. And, as the doors of the church remained closed in many places, there was the desire to re-open the doors of the church to worship, fellowship and care for the community.
The return to normal had other implica�ons. Returning to normal also held the challenge of returning to “the way things used to be” which was not posi�ve for many. Social problems were not solved, or resolved, instead they were heightened. There was the need to interrogate the desire for this return to normal. If normal was poverty, hunger, sickness, drought, famine, unemployment, under-employment, sexual violence, discrimina�on, rising sea waters, food deserts, forced migra�on and human traﬃcking, why would anyone advocate for a return to normal?
What expecta�ons do we need to set to see changes reﬂec�ng a new normal where every one has all they needed to live with respect and dignity, and with full economy of life? What goals do we need to add to our vision for a just world for all? What are our hopes as we contemplate mission in a post-pandemic world? These are ques�ons yet before the church and the world as a post-pandemic world and the accompanying challenges of injus�ce begin to emerge yet again before us.
The desire for a post-pandemic world must be confronta�onal with the pre-pandemic world in which we lived. The missional impera�ve and
commitment to ensuring hope and change for all was already commi�ed to strategies of nega�ng poverty and colonialism. The commitment to social jus�ce and the good news of the gospel in the movements for social change involved the presence of churches at work in their communi�es. The church is at work and present with the marginalized in the quest for jus�ce. This too is a part of mission which calls us to “do jus�ce, love kindness and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
A Renewed Call to Mission
There is a growing list of dispari�es present in our local and global communi�es and with that list are the opportuni�es for being ac�ve par�cipants with God in ensuring all are safe and cared for. The call for the twenty-ﬁrst century is not a new call, it is a renewed call to mission - mission that brings us into contact with the pain and suﬀering of the world as we bring the healing and compassion of God’s love to the world.
The poem ”new hope” was one of the poe�c responses to the presenta�ons during eDARE 2020. Re-imagining mission has been explored for many years in the church. Emerging from these explora�ons were the on-going need to decolonize the church, to confront and dismantle systems of oppression, including patriarchy, and the priority of centering mission from the margins which put at center those who were vulnerable and what Jesus called “the least of these”.
“Now people at the margins are claiming their key role as agents of mission and aﬃrming mission as transforma�on. This reversal of roles in the envisioning of mission has strong biblical founda�ons because God chose the poor, the foolish, and the powerless (1 Cor. 1:18-31) to further God’s mission of jus�ce and peace so that life may ﬂourish” (Together towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes, WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, https://www.oikoumene.org/sites/default/ﬁles/Document/T ogether_towards_Life.pdf, p.5).
Our orienta�on in mission is neither “to nor from” the margins. Instead, there is a movement towards inclusion and mutuality built on the founda�on of God’s love which points us to mission together as the church - mission “with.” It is God’s love present with us that is transforma�ve for those who are most vulnerable and those who are privileged. A renewed call to mission is rooted in love of God and love of neighbor which promotes respect and nurtures advocacy and jus�ce. This quest for mutuality in mission with the value given to the par�cipa�on of those iden�ﬁed as the margins brings the church to reconcilia�on and unity in the vision for mission in this twenty-ﬁrst century.
Added to mission with the margins is the need to include crea�on care as a part of mission. “Mission with crea�on at its heart is already a posi�ve movement in our churches through campaigns for eco-jus�ce and more sustainable lifestyles and the development of spirituali�es that are respec�ul of the earth. However, we have some�mes forgo�en that the whole of crea�on is included in the reconciled unity towards which we are all called (2 Cor. 5:18-19) (Together towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes, WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, h�ps://www.oikoumene.org/sites/default/ﬁles/Doc ument/Together_towards_Life.pdf, p.10).
The challenges being faced by the marginalized are coupled with the injus�ces toward all of crea�on. The abuse of the land has contributed to the food deserts around us and the lack of sustainability for many communi�es. These days of COVID-19 pandemic brought a�en�on to the world around us in a diﬀerent way.
Our truth telling brought us to naming racism as a pandemic, a global crisis which required our a�en�on. The crisis facing women was also iden�ﬁed as being of pandemic propor�ons as we watched yet again women in society losing jobs and wages, facing discrimina�on and violence and determined that change was long overdue. Now it is �me for us to name the climate crisis and ecological injus�ce as being of pandemic propor�on. A renewed call to mission has to include caring for all of crea�on and is mission beyond people that includes care for all crea�on.
Where do we go from here? We are s�ll a world in crisis. Post-pandemic possibili�es requires looking at the places of crisis and the opportuni�es for the church to be present in providing solu�ons. New hope awaits us, hope that invites us to name the truths and unmask the coverings which con�nue to perpetuate crises which are unsustainable.
Sustainability should be a goal in mission. Simply put, “sustainability is a societal goal that broadly aims for humans to safely co-exist on planet Earth over a long �me”
Our desire to change the world is a desire to achieve sustainability in the world for all. We want economic, social, human and environmental sustainability, a large task which requires a wholis�c approach that centers on all of crea�on.
The masks are lowering from our faces as new technology and protocols emerge to a�end to the illness and spreading of the COVID-19 pandemic. As these masks are lowering from our faces, there is relief that perhaps the pandemic is over, and we have nothing to worry about anymore. We know that is untrue, as we con�nue to watch new variants being named and see numbers surging in our communi�es and realize there are other pandemics facing us.
The masks we have worn to cover our noses and mouths to protect ourselves from the spreading COVID-19 virus are representa�ve in many ways of the masks we have worn across our faces to protect us from seeing and being disturbed by the social pandemics which have been present among us.
A lowering and removing of our COVID-19 face masks must be accompanied by the lowering of the masks which prevent us from being ac�ve par�cipants in care for all of crea�on. This removing of the masks is necessary for us to be the church present and at work in ministry and mission with the world. The church in mission has a role to play in achieving the sustainable development goals set forth by the global community to ensure that sustainability of all life is achieved. The church in mission is present with the poor making sure they have what they need and is present ensuring the healing of all who are not well.
The church in mission is present in communi�es caring for each other from the abundance of God’s gi� given to us through Jesus Christ. We are the church together doing what we can where we are, impac�ng the world and providing for a world where jus�ce is visible for all. Post-pandemic possibili�es rest in a renewed call to mission that is with all of God’s people, caring and a�ending to all of God’s crea�on. We can create a new normal together, and see a new heaven and a new earth, where God is truly making “everything new” Revela�on 21:5.Rev Dr Karen Georgia A. Thompson is Associate General Minister for Wider Church Ministries and Operations in the United Church of Christ and Co-Executive for Global Ministries.
Youths and COVID 19 pandemicby Rev. Jackline Makena Mutuma
COVID-19 in Kenya
The COVID-19 pandemic caused global panic. It paralyzed the global economic systems and disoriented the norm in all parts of the world. Our health systems were overwhelmed by the huge number of reported cases, which further caused the deaths of many people worldwide. The ﬁrst case of Covid-19 was reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. A�er three months, the ﬁrst case in Kenya was reported on the 12th of March 2020 (Brand et al, 2020). The Government issued
COVID-19 on youth and the Church in Kenya and examine why the Church was treated as a non-essen�al service.
The Church in Kenya was treated as a non-essential service.
The Church plays a cri�cal role in Kenya, either directly or indirectly. Despite these eﬀorts, Kenya's government termed the Church and the clerical leaders, non-essen�al service providers. There was no provision in Kenyan law for the Church; it was treated like restaurants and marketplaces. The Chris�an leaders from the various denomina�ons asked the government to consider incorpora�ng the Church as an essen�al service provider. Religious leaders play a cri�cal role in society which includes; providing spiritual and moral support to their members during those diﬃcult days. However, despite all these, the church leaders s�ll operated under the curfew restric�ons limi�ng them from rendering their services to their followers.
containment measures to control the spread of the virus. Among the containment measures, all order schools were ordered to close; places of public gatherings were banned. This includes religious gatherings, restaurants, pubs, funerals, and markets. This ar�cle aims to explore the impacts of
The police stormed the places of worship and arrested the church leaders who deﬁed the law. The situa�on persisted, and the church leaders had to ﬁnd an alterna�ve way of conduc�ng their services. This ban had serious eﬀects on the Church, leading to its closure. In addi�on, members were prohibited from gathering in places of worship. This conten�on between the government and the churches con�nued long before the government li�ed the ban.
The Church post COVID-19 era
place where they feel value is being added to them. The spiritual health of the Church has caused this switching (Wood, 2021). The groups most aﬀected are the youths; they are on the move from one Church to another. They are looking for a place where they will feel loved and appreciated. In this new re-awakening, the Church is redeﬁning its iden�ty and visibility to accommodate everyone. The Church is making eﬀorts to ensure that no one is le� behind and no one is lagging in the ma�ers of Faith.
Impact on the Youths during COVID-19
Technology, crea�vity, and innova�on have taken new heights and depths in our churches. Kenya has quite advanced in technology and internet connec�vity. However, the adop�on rate of new technology was very slow before COVID-19. This pandemic has forced the Church to re-think new ways of reaching out to its members. It has created a neo-modern spirituality that is embedded in social media. Today the Church has been ﬂooded with various social media pla�orms for conduc�ng its services. The Church has con�nued to acquire remarkable progress and relevance on social media pla�orms, conduc�ng its prayers, worship, giving, and preaching through digital pla�orms. The members can follow the services wherever they are as long they have access to the internet. Through the digital pla�orms, the Church has con�nued to grow, to increase its followers and viewership. Every Church is now adjus�ng to ﬁt into this new norm. The physical gathering is no longer a limita�on to a�ending church services.
Despite making big steps on social media pla�orms, there has been a low turnout in the physical fellowship. This low turnout rate was a�ributed to isola�on for a long �me. The most aﬀected group are youths; they got hooked on this world's pleasures and lost interest in the church. The churches are redeﬁning their iden�ty to help urge members to go back to the Church. They are increasing their visibility, which will help sustain bringing the members back to the places of their fellowship. There has to be a great external force to pull them back to the Church.
There has also been great erosion of members shi�ing/migra�ng from one Church to another due to dissa�sfac�on in their places of worship. Members are willing to pay the price in a�ending, oﬀering, and giving themselves sacriﬁcially to the
The emergence of COVID-19 brought an end to social interac�ons. The restric�ons conﬁned people to their homes and isolated them from the crowds. Many youths were cut oﬀ from all social interac�ons leading to isola�on. The Church oﬀered a be�er place for them to grow in faith, socially and spiritually. The closure of churches was a big barrier to progress in their life. It wasn't easy to reach out and encourage them to grow. The rate of Spiritual growth among the youths decreased (Karijo et al., 2020). Social media became their new norm and way of life. Social media altered their behaviors and way of life. Without the presence of their spiritual mentors, their Faith was at risk.
Mental health and ﬁnancial distress also aﬀected many young people. Lack of ﬁnances and the struggle to make ends meet caused many to undergo depression and other health problems. These hardships resulted in pain, and life became a puzzle and unbearable (Kipkoros, 2021). The youths lost their jobs, and these ﬁnancial constraints nega�vely impacted their lives. Lack of income made the youths heavily dependent on their parents, causing further economic constraints. Due to this dependence, some youths experience conﬂicts with their family members. When ﬁnancial hardships are viewed as a threat and the individual cannot cope, they experience anxiety and depression. Financial stress has been a�ributed to causing self-injury, where the majority feel life has no meaning and can easily commit suicide. This ﬁnancial distress was much
economic constraints. Due to this dependence, some youths experience conﬂicts with their family members. When ﬁnancial hardships are viewed as a threat and the individual cannot cope, they experience anxiety and depression. Financial stress has been a�ributed to causing self-injury, where the majority feel life has no meaning and can easily commit suicide. This ﬁnancial distress was much a�ributed to the social isola�on eﬀect.
Social rela�onship is a cure to ﬁnancial distress; psychologically meaningful groups give members a sense of purpose and hope, and help reduce stress and depression.
Lack of Social support and decreased peer contact among the youths increased psychological distress. This resulted from the closure of schools, churches, and other social gatherings. Youths are highly aﬀected by social depriva�on; they o�en need peer interac�ons and other social mentorship programs. They help the youths share their problems and struggles and are relieved. The Church is a place of comfort, guidance, and counseling for many young people (Kahura, 2020). Loneliness and lack of social support contributed greatly to the mental distress. Youths were a forgo�en group in the community. Low a�en�on was given to them, and much care and a�en�on were given to the elderly at risk.
Are the Youths Interested in the Church right now?
The re-opening of the churches was countered by numerous challenges, including the huge decline of the registered members. The most aﬀected groups were the youths and the elderly. The turnout rate is very low, and the trend has raised alarm. The youths are no longer interested in the Church. Majority have fallen away from the spiritual disciplines. They no longer par�cipate in prayer mee�ngs, fellowship, and other church ac�vi�es. There is a great slack in the spiritual discipline, such as reading the word, prayer, and the ma�ers of Faith (James, 2021). The new civiliza�on altered their way of life and changed their thinking and behaviors. A�ending the Church is no longer a burden; the level of interest in the Church is very low, and the pleasures and cares of this world have taken over their lives.
The rate of acceptance and coming to the reality of the ma�ers of Faith is s�ll an issue to be addressed. The hope of genera�on seems to grow dim. The slothfulness among the youths and their self-independence have made it diﬃcult for them to return to their spiritual track. Majority have turned to social media to search for peers. Their new hope is in their online friends; they seek counsel and solu�ons from online peers in vain.
Their hopes are cut oﬀ, and they remain discouraged and downcast. The youths seem to have a quest for other things than the Church. The world has taught them to be self-dependent and selﬁsh.
The pandemic era has aﬀected the Church and the youths in Kenya. Most people were cut oﬀ from social life, which aﬀected their spiritual growth and Faith. It has been diﬃcult for the majority to return to their normal way of life and resume their places of fellowship. The Church in Kenya was badly hit; it was termed a non-essen�al service, making it lose relevance among Chris�ans. The situa�ons have taken �me to normalize and people to change their ways. The closure of churches and conduc�ng the services virtually made it diﬃcult for the church leaders and the members to interact. The youths have low interest in the Church; this is made evident by their level of availability and commitment to the Church. The current situa�on of the Church in Kenya has con�nued to raise alarms with the low turnout rate of members and the closure of churches.
Rev. Jackline Makena Mutuma is a minister in the Methodist Church in Kenya (MCK) and a Theologian. She holds a Bachelor of Divinity from St. Paul’s University (SPU) and Masters in Theology majoring in Systematic Theology and Theology of Culture from Yonsei University, South Korea. She is passionate about researching and writing on contemporary theological issues, especially on Gender, Religion, and Social Justice. Her speciﬁc focus area is providing theological perspectives on emerging issues and advocating for women, the needy, and the marginalized.
The 11th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches was held in Karlsruhe, Germany from 31 August to 8 September 2022. The theme was “Christ's love moves the world to reconcilia�on and unity”. I par�cipated in the GETI (Global Ecumenical Theological Ins�tute) Program, which started before the WCC General Assembly. GETI was ﬁrst launched at the 10th General Assembly in 2013 in Busan, South Korea. Later, the 2018 GETI was held at the CWME (Conference on World Mission and Evangelism) in Arusha, Tanzania. And the third GETI was held during this WCC General Assembly. The 2022 GETI theme is related to the 11th General Assembly theme. That is Christ's Love (Re)moves Borders.
2022 GETI was conducted in two phases: online and residen�al. The online phase was conducted from 25 July to 20 August 2022 as the par�cipants stayed in their country, the residen�al phase was held at the Geno Hotel in Karlsruhe, Germany, from 28 August to 9 September, 2022, before the General Assembly. GETI par�cipants listened to and discussed lectures on six topics and reﬂected them in their theology, churches, and situa�ons. The six topics are: Healing Memories (Historic-Theological Track), Kairos for Crea�on (Eco-theological Track), Witness from the Margins (Prac�cal-Diaconal Track); Engaging with Plurality (Intercultural-Interreligious Track), Body Poli�cs: Body, Health and Healing (Just Rela�ons Track), and 4th Industrial Revolu�on & AI: Human Iden�ty in the Context of Global Digi�sa�on
Various topics like these, have baﬄed many young theologians, including myself. Our vision has expanded, and we've thought a lot about it. Our boundaries were also broken, and about 100 young people together experienced border, unity, and union. And we all became friends and family. Also, in response to the arguments of those presen�ng the issue of ecumenism, I have come to realize that it is no longer meaningful through this programme. This is because ecumenists recognize and respect each other's diversity in Jesus Christ. Also, people of Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican, Orthodox denomina�ons, tradi�ons, and theology come together and talk about various issues in the world of God's crea�on, making us all one.
Theology students of the GETI programme were not only ac�ve within the GETI programme. They a�ended the General Assembly, par�cipated in various decision-making processes, and contemplated on various challenges that we are facing together in this world. In addi�on, the four ecumenical conversa�ons made them reﬂect on theological studies. The ecumenical conversa�on was an ac�vity that was reﬂected in the later general assembly. In par�cular, I par�cipated in Ecumenical Conversa�on2 (EC2): The theme was “Dreaming a new future: a call from the margins”. This theme was based on a TTL document. It was a challenging �me for me because I saw TTL documents that were translated and published in Korean before the general assembly. Today,
marginaliza�on has been increased drama�cally. More and more people have been le� out due to structural injus�ce, inequality, racism, climate crisis, and COVID-19 pandemic. I told EC2 Group about the Korean church and the Korean situa�on on this topic as follows:
“Currently, various discrimina�on and confronta�on have occurred in Korea. Discrimina�on against migrants has sickened Korean society. The church is silent on these issues and the congrega�on is not interested. Despite there being discrimina�on, hatred, and exclusion, people in church are only interested in the church rather than beginning a dialogue, with migrant workers, their problems, and showing empathy. Therefore, I think Korea needs to prac�ce transforma�ve discipleship and consider the people who are being alienated in the society”
During GETI's last group mee�ng, we shared our feelings. I said the following.
"We studied, talked and thought about various topics at the General Assembly and GETI, but what should I do in my church? What can I do in my country? I don't know."
Besides me, other friends shared what they felt and experienced for two weeks. Later, Ma�hew Ryan Robinson of the University of Bonn, one of the two professors of GETI Group1, told various stories. In par�cular, he last quoted John 17 as saying.
"I no longer call you servant. I have called you friends, they who become one are friends. Friendship is a prac�ce of unity. Now, Prac�ce individual ecumenism."
There are numerous denomina�ons in the world. The WCC has about 350 denomina�ons. The diversity of denomina�ons is not for division and confronta�on. Just as the Holy Spirit's gi�s vary in the Bible, there are various denomina�ons to do God's work. Therefore, Chris�ans must seek unity in diversity.
Currently, various discrimination and confrontation have occurred in Korea. Discrimination against migrants has sickened Korean society. The church is silent on these issues and the congregation is not interested.
Korea s�ll has to work on the local and global ecumenical movement. At the last general assembly in Busan, a theologian reportedly saw 2H: hospitality and hos�li�es. I'm sure this, too, will be solved if it is done with the love of Christ.
I think it is important to recognise that from now on, when the General Assembly is over, there will s�ll be various conﬂicts and problems in the world. The Russia-Ukraine situa�on is s�ll serious, Also, there are various other challenges like climate crisis, AI, gender conﬂict, migrants, and religious conﬂicts, etc. Therefore, I think it's �me to seriously think and prac�ce. I pray that the theme of this general assembly and the theme of GETI will be truly implemented.
Christ’s Love (Re)moves Borders Christ's love moves the world to reconciliation and unity
TTL: Together towards Life - Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes (Keum 2013)LEFT: Rev. Choi (centre) interacting with fellow GETI participants
'Praying, Waiting and Listening’
In June 2022, I a�ended the CWM Europe Regional Assembly which had the theme of ‘Rising Up and Le�ng Go’ which means considering what we, as part of God’s mission team, need to develop and what we need to throw away. On the ﬁrst day, every member brought their own pictures of ‘Rising up and Le�ng Go’. I took a picture of ears. This was because I have come to realise the importance of listening and empathy while mee�ng people in the mission ﬁeld these days and I wanted to share my reﬂec�on with them. I'd like to share my reﬂec�on about ‘listening’ here, too. I am working with a local United Reformed Church, focusing on women and children, and youth in the New Malden and Kingston area.
When I ﬁrst came to the United Kingdom, I tried to approach as many people as possible with passion and enthusiasm of God’s mission and tried to do many Chris�an ac�vi�es. There have been frui�ul results overall. However, over �me, I have discovered that there have been some repeated limita�ons during mission work leading to some kind of burn-out inside of me. No ma�er how close I approached and knocked on people’s hearts, it seemed that they didn't open the door, and some people con�nually did not respond to my con�nued messages and a�empts at contact. It would be okay once or twice, but it was literally a lot. To be honest I got hurt and got �red.
Is it a genera�onal diﬀerence or a cultural diﬀerence, or did I burden them too much by my forceful approach? I could not understand why because I tried to be careful, so I needed �me to think and pray.
As �me went by from me having those concerns, children and youth, and women shared their daily lives with me, ea�ng, studying together, and three years passed. But there was some special change in the process. There are quite a few �mes these days when they ac�vely ask me if I have �me to talk. When they are having a hard �me with some worries or feel heartbroken –when they have happy and exci�ng news, they want to let me know ﬁrst. It gives me encouragement and mo�va�on, so I am stepping up my missionary work with greater enjoyment. When you decide to start mission work in the mission ﬁeld, your heart can be a full of sense of enthusiasm, passion and missional
purpose. I was also a hard worker full of passion, praying and thinking, "I can do everything because God led me here and everything will be ﬁne if I do my best obeying God’s will." So when I faced the situa�ons when people did not open their hearts to me and closed their ears to my story, I used to feel resentment towards those who did not recognize my enthusiasm.
Now, as �me has passed, I realise that I did not appreciate their situa�ons which they showed and explained to me. Rather, I tried to understand their situa�on from my perspec�ve. I realised my skills in empathy, rela�onship forma�on, and listening were rela�vely weak as my focus was on spreading the Gospel. Therefore, as �me went by, I tried to change my focus of thinking about mission itself into building rela�onships by mixing with them. Surprisingly, it seems that following my change in a�tude the people I was in contact with began sharing prayers with me naturally. I spent more �me with them and tried to listen to them more. Then, one day, I felt that I was loved, and the mission also became solid.
At this year’s CWM Europe Regional Assembly one of the Bible readings was about the Ethiopian Eunuch in the New Testament, Acts 8:26-40. The story is that the Ethiopian Eunuch wanted to understand the word of God but could not understand it because there was no one to teach him. Philip approached him and taught the eunuch the Word of God. Interes�ngly, even though Philip was led to the eunuch by God he did not try to declare and teach the gospel directly when they ﬁrst met. Philip carefully looked at what the eunuch was reading and did not force his carriage to stop even though he needed to preach the Gospel. The ﬁrst thing that Philip did was ask a ques�on to the eunuch and tried to understand his situa�on and needs. We see the eunuch stop his carriage and invite Philip to join him and he was ready to accept the Gospel when Philip listened to his opinion ﬁrst and waited in prayer. As a result, the eunuch suggested he should be bap�sed by Phillip.
Through this eunuch story in the Bible and my mission ﬁeld experience, I have come to realize that the ﬁrst thing to do as a Partner in Mission
(or as a Chris�an anywhere) is to respect and listen to the story of the people in the ﬁeld.
I think we need to have a sense of superiority of the Gospel, but not have an a�tude of superiority. One of the missionaries who I respect, Reverend Ji-il Bang, said “Missionaries should respect the local church and respect the local people.” He consistently insisted on the close rela�onship between missionaries and local people.
I think, for the �me being, I will be working with my listening ears and respect the people who God gave me in the United Kingdom while remembering this word.
So Young Jung is a Partner in Mission (PIM) from the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK) serving in the United Kingdom with the United Reformed Church (URC).
SHARING THE LOVE OF GOD AS CWM PARTNERS IN MISSIONby Rev. Ramboanjanahary Rasolonjanahary Samoelijaona
I am wri�ng as a former CWM missionary or partner in mission. God chose us, me and Parfaite my wife to carry out his mission from the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) to two countries of the CWM mission ﬁeld: ﬁrst in the Solomon Islands (in the United Church in Solomon Islands-UCSI) and then in Kiriba� (in the Kiriba� Uni�ng Church-KUC, formerly Kiriba� Protestant Church). I was posted to those places as a mathema�cs teacher and Parfaite as a den�st. Later on, a�er distance learning I was ordained as a church minister.
As we look back at the beginning, we remember that when we le� home at the end of 1994, the use of Internet was not popular, if not, inexistent. Communica�on was frustra�ng as mail took �me to travel from one place to another. It took weeks to get news from home in Madagascar and from CWM too in London at that �me. So it was a �me as though our umbilical cords were cut for a second �me. Parfaite lost her mother while we were on our way to the Solomon Islands, in a foreign land, in UK; I lost my mother too, and one sister while we were serving in the Solomon Islands and the news came to us a�er some days or weeks. That is to tell you that when you go on mission for God, you don’t turn back, you belong completely to Him; He is your family, He is your protector.
Let us put it this way: when you go for a mission of God you get new families; they are the hos�ng people of the receiving church. You have to ﬁt into new customs, to new visions of things. Mind you! When we went there we did not have to build new schools or new hospitals; I had to teach mathema�cs in an already exis�ng school, but at the same �me I had to preach the Gospel, I had to strengthen the faith of the students and the communi�es in and around the school; Parfaite had to start a new way of work, she had to make people
accept that a woman can carry out the same job as men, and besides she would start her work every day with a devo�on. So, what we want to put across here is that the mission of God does not consist only in building a church but in coopera�ng with the local church to bring up people spiritually and intellectually to the standard of God. While working there, we learnt from the local people about the approach to take in sharing the Good News of Christ. For example, to reach people’s hearts you have to use songs and skits. They worship without the accompaniment of musical instruments; they use a cappella.
Besides these, we learnt their way of life - cooking, travelling by canoe and driving at sea. To be pa�ent too, as �me passes slowly.
So how do we understand CWM? It is a Chris�an organisa�on of sharing, an organisa�on where cultures interact with one another. You don’t go on mission as someone who knows everything but someone who is giving and eager to learn too. It is a place where your no�on of family is enlarged, a place where you get acquainted with life’s unknown faces without giving up. It is mainly a place where Jesus is the life’s centre.
A Kiriba� minister said: “what a tremendous work CWM is doing in sending people where they are needed.”
And Parfaite says: “God’s mission has increased my faith; I could share and live out my faith as a CWM partner in mission.”
At the end of our service, we are so grateful to God for our missional journey, to the sending and receiving churches, and to CWM in facilita�ng God’s mission. To God only be the glory!
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Christian Faith Perspectiveby Dr Rogate R. Mshana, Ecolife Centre Director
The topic of Faith and Finance entails responding to some questions: what is money, what is finance, what is society and even more loaded is the question - what is the Christian faith. This paper outlines briefly the conceptual understanding of these issues and also the role that money and finance ought to play in the economy and society from the perspective of the Christian faith based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.The topic of Faith and Finance entails responding to some questions: what is money, what is finance, what is society and even more loaded is the question - what is the Christian faith. This paper outlines briefly the conceptual understanding of these issues and also the role that money and finance ought to play in the economy and society from the perspective of the Christian faith based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Money is primarily understood as a medium of exchange or a means of exchange. It is a way for a person to trade what one has for what one wants or needs. It was devised so as to solve the intricacies and complexities of the barter system in trade relations. Ideally, money has three critical characteristics: It acts as a medium of exchange; it is an economic good and it is a means of economic circulation.¹
People today speak about real money and virtual money. Money has been transformed into various complicated instruments such as derivatives² that cannot be understood by people who are not professionals; what we need to know is that it is the commodity used in the modern trading systems – and this is really virtual money. Money has been turned into a commodity instead of in essence being a medium for the exchange of goods and services. A few people benefit vastly from doing nothing but sit at a desk and engage in speculation and become more and more wealthy; while millions of others are impoverished with little access to real money. What we have today is a monetary system that is delinked from real economy. It is here that issues of Christian faith and ethics come into play asking a question, have we reached a point of worshiping mammon instead of God? What role does money have in an economy of life for all people and all of creation?
(accessed on 24-10-15)
whose value is based
What is Finance?
Finance can simply be understood as the science of the management of public money as well as that of companies. Such management is done by governments, banks and many financial institutions. However, today global money has no one global authority to manage it. Is such a global manager and institution essential? The lack of such global control of finance was seen as one of the reasons for global financial volatility and indebtedness that has affected the global crises as well as national economic crises. Currently there are attempts to create another type of money that will replace the central banks or any type of middle men during financial transactions. The proposal is to apply what is called “blockchain technology” which has the potential to transform how people and businesses cooperate. It is a discovery of the Bitcoin with a block chain ledger; which makes possible to use a currency without a central bank³. This makes it even more pertinent to ask the question - should the management of money be with the financial institutions or should it be with the people?
The third President of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson (13th April 1743 -4th July 1826) said, “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered...I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies... The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs”.
These strong words seems to have fallen on the wayside. On the other hand, what can be noted today is that the current financial system redistributes wealth from the poor to the wealthy through usury. So, we ask again should the management of money be with the people where it belongs? How can this be done? This is another question for Christian faith. Is it the management of a bitcoin or is it local community-based currencies that are the panacea? These are questions that need to be raised as faith communities look for alternatives to the current unethical and corrupted financial management systems.
This article ﬁrst appeared in the October 2019 issue of INSiGHT.
3 The Economist, October 31st-November 6th 2015:11. The system is peer-to-peer; users can transact directly without needing an intermediary. Transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the block chain. The ledger uses its own unit of account, also called bitcoin. The system works without a central repository or single administrator, which has led the U.S. Treasury to categorise it as a decentralised virtual currency.
4 See www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/private-banks-quotation (accessed on 31st October 2015)
A human society is a group of people involved in persistent social interaction or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or social territory typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. An individual is a basic component of a society and hence the interaction among individuals with each other gives birth to a group and they together form a society. Interaction among nations creates a global community. Such interactions can be manifested in various forms of life such as economic, political, cultural and social. As far as the subject of our reflection today is concerned - the role played by money and finance in economic interactions in a community/society is crucial.
The management of money destroys community because dependence on money means we no longer need our neighbours. We can get everything from anonymous strangers in return for money. We have no obligation to no one when the bills are paid. Every trade is a complete action: you provide me with something and I give you money. No one does us any favours and we need no favours from any one. This means that money creates individualism and destroys communities. Individuals are seen as more important than communities and society in general. Margret Thatcher, the late British Prime minister maintained that there is no society but only individuals. But as people of faith would we not say that it is people not profits that should determine the role of money and finance in society.
When we speak about Christian faith, we include all Christian denominations that follow the teachings of Christ Jesus namely the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox churches, and the Protestant churches in their various denominational forms that have now grown to over 3,000 groups worldwide. Despite their differences, Christians have maintained unity of the Spirit as noted in the Bible in the letter of Paul to Ephesians, “in the bond of peace… just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” Christian faith is based on the basic belief that Jesus Christ came to the world, suffered, was crucified, died, descended to the dead and was resurrected for the forgiveness of our sins. This faith is summarised in the Apostles Creed recited by Christians every Sunday during worship.
Through the teachings of Christ, Christian praxis requires carrying out of the ministry of Christ on Earth as stated in John 10:10b (NRSV), “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Christ came with a wholistic ministry as stated in Luke 4: 18-19 (NRSV), “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he had anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Christian faith therefore includes good life both on Earth and in the after-life in heaven.
working for social, economic and ecological justice. Christians have to follow the 10 commandments as prescribed by God; and practice to “Love one another” as Christ demonstrated. They are taught to care for the earth by overcoming greed. Instead of only performing good deeds they are driven by the Spirit to go a step further; as stated in Romans 8: 1-39, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” In Christ they are propelled to challenge all injustice in the world.
6by Rev Nikotemo Sopepa, CWM Mission Secretary, Pacific
Churches and the ecumenical movement have for many years studied the global economic system and globalisation. From the Christian faith, economy is described as the management of a household, (Oikos), in which all members have access to livelihood and the abundance of life. In that sense, God is the economist and the Homemaker. And human beings, created in God’s image, are called to be economists and homemakers-preservers of creation-organising life and God’s gifts so that all have the requisites for livelihood in order to enhance the life of the community . Women practice this when they practice the economy of care. Christian faith, therefore, includes economy as a matter of faith. The works of many theologians on the subject have enriched this link between economy and theology in Christianity. Reformers like Calvin and Martin Luther wrestled to relate economy with Christian faith. There are a number of studies done on Orthodox fathers and their reflections on wealth and poverty. All in all, there has always been a Christian concern regarding poverty, wealth and God ‘s creation. Today we are working on promoting an economy of life .What then is the Christian understanding on the role of money in an economy of life?
Following the teaching of Christ as in John 10: 10b, Christians are looking for alternatives - an Economy of Life which is different from the current destructive systems. In this understanding the main characteristics of God’s household of life are:
The bounty of the gracious economy of God (oikonomia tou theou) who offers and sustains abundance for all.
God’s gracious economy requires that we manage the abundance of life in a just, participatory and sustainable manner;
The economy of God is an economy of life that promotes sharing, globalised solidarity, the dignity of persons, and love and care for the integrity of Creation;
God’s economy is an economy for the whole oikoumene- the whole Earth community; God’s justice and preferential option for the poor are the marks of God’s economy.
The role of money and finance in the economy and society can then be seen from the prism of the above five criteria.
Money is good but its management in the economy and society is bad. In the Bible it is written in 1 Timothy 6: 10a, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
Unfortunately, this verse has been misunderstood as, “Money is a root of all kinds of evil.” What we should understand is that money itself is not evil but what is evil is the love of money. This love of money is what we today call “Moneytheism” – the worship of money. Humanity has constructed a system of “moneytheism” in which the role of money has been that of exploitation of people and destruction of our mother Earth instead of serving them and creation. The following is what happens:
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22: 7. The financial system is benefiting from indebtedness – with systems controlled by debtors. It ensures that as many people as possible are perennially indebted. These are turned into slaves under moneytheism. Today we are indebted through the issuing of credit cards which at the same time encourages consumerism by pushing us to purchase wants instead of needs. Through indebtedness poor countries and individuals have turned into slaves of banks and other financial institutions. Furthermore, money is created when banks grant loans. Thus for every unit created there is one unit of debt.
Money is essentially information and has no physical existence yet banks encourage us to think of it as a ‘thing’ so that they can ‘lend’ to us and thereby make a profit by charging interest. The ‘thing’ money has to be created, distributed and controlled so that there is not too much of it. It can also be stolen,lost,bought, sold and counterfeited, with serious consequences for everyone.
Aaart Van Den Berg, God and the Economy: Analysis and typology of Roman Catholic, Protestant. Orthodox, Ecumenical and Evangelical, Theological Documents on the Economy 1979-1992, Eburon Publishers, Delft 1998 p.22
7 See “Economy of Life Now: An Ecumenical Action plan for a new International Financial and Economic Architecture” https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/commissions on international-affairs-policy/report-of-the march-2009-ccia-meeting.
8 See Rogate R. Mshana and Athena Peralta (Eds) Linking Poverty, Wealth and Ecology: The Agape Process from Porto Alegre to Busan, WCC publications 2014.
9 Four of these five characteristics reflect the “Criteria towards economic policy- making” presented in the WCC study document on Christian faith and the world economy today, Geneva: WCC,1992, p.29. The document was an important step in understanding that economic matters are indeed matters of Christian Faith.
“You shall not charge interest on loans to another Israelite, interest on money, interest on provisions, interest on anything that is lent…” Deuteronomy 23: 19f.
The practice of usury-making loans at inflated interest rates-ensures that the poor would remain in perpetual need, their paltry wages spent in paying off the interest but not the principal, a form of economic servitude. This banking practice, denounced throughout the centuries by the church, readily condemned the poor to hand-to-mouth existence and chronic anxiety that accompanies such a life. From the Lutheran tradition we have learnt that Luther did not ask for the abolition of bank loans. Rather, he argued that an exorbitant interest rate is not fair and it should be regulated and dropped to the point where a banker was justly paid and a bank client was not perpetually impoverished . He followed Christ’s teaching, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Matt 7: 12).
The true evil is not the loan in itself so much as the vices of those who apply themselves to lending.¹¹ Usury is almost always accompanied by two inseparable evils: tyrannical cruelty and the art of deception.
Today banks do not follow the command by Christ even so-called Christian banks. What we need here is still deep theological reflection and praxis within Christianity about how our banks could be unique in their practices.
The fundamental argument supportive of all biblical and Christian teaching on lending with interest is that money must not be a source of profit when payment for it is made at the expense of the poor. Money in society is properly intended to come to their assistance, and not to oppress them. Exodus 22:25 directs us, “If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them.”
The question to address: Is it possible to even have joint interfaith banks with practices based on faith so as to overcome usury? What about joint interfaith programs of awareness building for private lenders - some of them have been so tyrannical, to the extent that they force some individuals to sell their body organs such as kidneys in order to repay their debts.10 Samuel Torvend, Luther and Hungry Poor: Gathered Fragments, Fortress Press 2008, pp 122 11 Andre Bieler,Calvin’s Economic and Social Thought, Translation 2005, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, WCC Publications, Geneva, 2005, pp
“Speculate” comes from the Latin term speculum, a mirror where when one stands between two mirrors and you see an endless succession of images of oneself. Such a practice produces money from money but without producing any real wealth. This is the fetishisation of money, of greed, a thirst for gain and for accumulating money without limit. This is unethical and a poison to the economy of life.
The sign that there is addiction in financial speculation is the growth of the casino industry at local levels and the speculation on currencies in the world. This notion of profiting without producing anything tangible is not ethical. Calvin described it very early in history like this:
It is also a very strange and unfair thing, that, while everyone earns their living with much toil. While husbandmen tire themselves out in their work day by day, and artisans serve others by the sweat of their brow, and merchants not only work but also expose themselves to many inconveniences and risks- that money-mongers should sit at their ease without doing anything, and receive tribute from the labour of everyone else.¹²
Marcos Arruda describes the global casino system as follows, “In 2002, the value of speculative transactions worldwide reached a new plateau of 1,122.7 trillion US dollars…. including 699 trillion in transactions through derivatives, 384.4 trillion exchange transactions and 39.3 trillion in financial investments. The total is 34.76 times the 32.3 trillion US dollars transactions in goods and services i.e. the real economy”¹³.
From a Roman Catholic perspective, we learn: “A financial economy that is an end unto itself is destined to contradict its goals, since it is no longer in touch with its roots and has lost sight of its constitutive purpose. In other words, it has abandoned its original and essential role of serving the real economy, and ultimately, of contributing to the development of people and human community.” The church calls for a financial regulatory system at the global level.
How can faith-based communities help in linking finance with real economy today? What about working together on social financing?
12 Ibid 2005 pp.413
13 Marcos Arruda, Profiting Without Producing: The Financial Crisis as an Opportunity to Create an Economy of World Solidarity published on line in http.www.pacs.org.br and also in Pamela Brubaker and Rogate Mshana (eds) Justice Not Greed, WCC Publications, Geneva 2010 pp. 129
14 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 2004pp.207
Twenty years ago, when the world shifted from the 1900s to the 2000s, we were excited that human history was entering the 21st century, the new millennium. At that time, there was optimism that “the infinite development of technology would make enormous improvement in human life” during the 21st century, and scepticism that “although technology might develop, without caution in consumerism and ecological destruction, we might be in danger of more diseases and ecological threats.”
But what has happened? Unfortunately, as soon as we entered the 2000s, the world fell into a war spiral – with the Gulf War, 9/11 terrorist attacks, Afghanistan war, Iraq war etc. – and the economy was polarised by neo-liberal economic globalisation and continued ecological destruction, resulting in serious ecological crises such as climate change and fine dust. In addition, it was foreseen that new life-threatening diseases which we have never experienced before might arise, and that is now becoming a reality.
Dilemma of the Modern Human Civilisation
Twenty years ago, I was working at the World Communion of Reformed Churches, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and whenever I had an opportunity to preach at either a European or Korean congregation, I preached a sermon entitled "The Fruit of the Tree of Garden of the 21st Century" based on Genesis 3.
At that time, in this particular sermon, I mentioned the disease “Ebola” and warned that if we would not change the path of current human civilisation, we would face far more serious diseases than with Ebola. Ebola is a terrifying disease with a fatality rate of 50 to 90 percent that first appeared in the central African Congo in 1976. It swept Africa in 1998, just around the corner of 2000, putting the world in a state of panic. Ebola did not come under the spotlight this year as the world was engulfed with COVID-19, but it actually reappeared in Congo on August 1, 2018, setting a record of 3,470 confirmed cases, 2,287 dead, 1,171 survivors. A record of 1/3 of confirmed cases ended in death and was declared terminated in June 25, 2020.
Twenty years ago, a warning was issued about future diseases; unfortunately, this was followed by a series of new, scary diseases. SARS in 2002, MERS in 2013, the Zika virus in 2015, Ebola again in 2014, and COVID-19 in late 2019, just a few days before 2020, resulting in an indefinite stop to all systems around the world.
Is this image of us wearing masks during our daily lives the new normal? Is social distancing, for humans who are social animals, the new normal? This situation is clearly abnormal – an absolutely abnormal reality.
Many people say "this too will pass!" and hope that the situation will soon end and we will be able to go back to living like we used to. But it won’t. Some say human history should now be divided into BC and AC – before corona and after corona – by comparing COVID-19 to BC and AD. This unparalleled reality is unlikely to change easily, with the world's nations sealed off by a virus which was never seen before. Even the world wars could not shut down all systems for so long and close national borders. Are we going to live like this? Or do we wish to change something?
These days, there are a lot of analyses and prospects predicting post-corona life style. However, after seeing most of these analyses, I am doubtful whether we actually understand the core of the corona crisis. A leading Korean broadcast programme "Programme on the Way of the Republic of Korea After Corona," focuses on just how to adapt to the corona era rather than look for alternatives. The whole world is focusing on vaccine development in response to COVID-19. Of course, vaccine development is important to prevent the spread of the virus and treatment development is also of importance. Nonetheless, this is a defensive strategy, not a pro-active strategy to overcome COVID-19. What is of more importance is not to adapt and live at this point brought by the Corona crisis, but to thoroughly find out the root cause of Corona and find an alternative way to deal with it.
Many different assumptions are said in relation to the origin of the coronavirus – from the Wuhan Market in China, leaked from Wuhan Virus Research Institute near Wuhan Market, and that the world's dominant forces intentionally spread the virus for population control and digital control and so on. Current information does not tell exactly what the real cause is but most commonly points out the ecological crisis as the root cause. Precisely, the fact that humans have invaded the realm of nature too deeply is an important cause that has led to COVID-19.
All modern diseases, such as SARS,
MERS and COVID-19, are caused by viruses which originally existed only in animals but crossed species boundaries from animals to humans. The question is how did it happen?
Twenty years ago, also quoted in the sermon "The Fruit of the Tree of Garden of the 21st Century," in 1998, a lab in Canada examined how the animal virus, Ebola, came to humans, and when humans damaged the deep jungles of Africa for resource development, the virus that lived there moved to the monkeys and then to the humans in contact with these monkeys. The new diseases that humans are experiencing now are the cost and boomerang phenomena that humans exploited nature for development and growth.
Originally, humans are meant to coexist with nature. However, modern civilisation has gone beyond co-existence with and utilisation of nature. For development and economic greed, humans have ruthlessly damaged nature and disturbed ecological principles through genetic manipulation, forcing nature to invade into human territory. In addition to the human metastasis problem of animal viruses, today farmers are really struggling with animals when farming. In other words, humans are desperately fighting for food with animals, and animals are fighting for food with humans.
Animal counterattack began because humans took away their unique places where animals used to live. The
violation of human animal habitats is the first cause of SARS or MERS, or the outbreak of COVID-19, which we are currently experiencing, and the uncontrolled violation of nature by humans’ beings has brought about this situation.
There is another cause besides human encroaching on the boundaries of animal life. It is the development of human technology, especially convergence technology. The Wuhan Virus Research Institute is constantly suspected as the source of the COVID-19 virus leak. Ralph S. Baric, professor of mechanics at North Carolina University and Zhengli-Li Shi, researcher at the Institute for Special Pathogens and Biological Safety in Wuhan Virus Research announced that strains of the coronavirus in Chinese bats can infect people and cause pneumonia and lung damage in 2015 on Nature Medicine, a renowned international journal of medicine. The new virus made here is not a naturally occurring virus but a virus combined by human technology.
According to another source, there was a theory that COVID-19 is a combination of AIDS and other viruses, and unfortunately, the treatment drug given to the No. 1 COVID-19 patient in Korea was a cure for HIV and AIDS; news reports stated this patient was completely cured. It is also worth noting that Remdesivir, an Ebola treatment, is constantly being mentioned in relation to COVID-19 treatments.
In conclusion, the virus that is emerging now, whether for economic or technical reasons or military purposes, is ultimately a major cause of the destruction of the ecosystem by human greed and the arrogance of technology.
A Theological Reflection on Dilemma of the Modern Human Civilisation
We need to pay attention to a Biblical insight with regard to the dilemma of modern human civilisation.
First, Let’s see Genesis 1:6-7.
And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters”. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
The keyword of Genesis 1:6-7 is “divide.” The waters above the firmament have been divided from the water under the firmament. This division of the realm of sharing appears steadily if you look at the process of creation. Not only here but all throughout Genesis, we can see that God divides all creation into appropriate places, saying, "God shares light and darkness, shares the day and the night, shares the sun and the moon, divides the seasons.
As we can see from this unprecedented rainy season, things in the universe should not be in one place at a time. Everything should be spatially distributed properly. The ecology of the universe created by God is designed this way.
Here, we have an important point to make clear. We clearly note here that literal meaning of the term “divide” has been highly problematic in connection with all sorts of unjust political systems like dictatorship, totalitarianism, imperialism, colonialism and etc. which we have been experiencing throughout history. We all know very well a satanic character in Apartheid system. Therefore, the biblical term ‘divide’ shouldn’t be understood as it is. It needs to be understood as a ‘shared’ or ‘allocated’ based on God’s given grace and justice.
According to Genesis 1:11-12, all living things in the universe, such as grass, vegetables, and trees, were created according to their kind.
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind; and God saw that it was good. God said, "Give the land the plants that sow, the plants that sow, and the trees that bear the fruit of the seed according to their kind." The earth gave the grass, the vegetables that bear the seeds according to their kind, and the trees that bear the seeds according to their end, which was good for God to see. Let the waters of the earth gather in one place, and the land be revealed, so that it will be as it will be. (Gen. 1:11-12)
If we look at Genesis 1:20-21, God not only created plants but also all kinds of animals – birds living in the sky, animals living on land and all kinds of fish living in the sea – and chose distinct habitats for each group. When the people of Israel came out of Egypt and entered the land of Canaan, God again divided the land for each of the twelve tribes to live in.
This sharing is God's detailed plan, which gave all beings their own place to carry out the meaning and mission of their existence and arranged it so that it would not cause chaos.
It is the principle of dividing the realm of life. In light of this principle, today's COVID-19 problem is the result of human invasions of habitats where animal viruses should exist; the viruses that should be in animals lost their habitat for survival and have moved into human bodies. This is the consequence of breaking the fundamental principle of God's creation.
Examples of one organism intruding another’s territory have appeared repeatedly in human history. This is the case with colonial history, world wars and racial conflicts around the world that are taking place now. Isn't all human conflict and injustice - colonial history, war, trade conflict, racial conflict, gender conflict, economic injustice - a phenomenon that occurs when one being dominates or seizes the unique position or rights God has given to another?
The norms God has given us are not just the norms of faith and theology. The term “ecology” is a combination of “oikos”, meaning “household”, and “logos”, which means the principle of
knowledge in ancient Greek. Theologically, the universe is the oikos, or house made by God, and ecology is the logic in which the universe operates. What disturbs this order, this logic, is the ecological crisis. Today’s climate change and outbreak of diseases such as COVID-19 came from the ecological crisis that disrupted the logic of the house made by God.
The term “Economy” also originated from the same oikos root. Economy is a combination of “oikos”, meaning household, and nomos, meaning rule. Therefore, the economy is the rule and order of God’s house. Economy is not about capital, production, consumption, finance, money-making or investment, but rather a rule that enables the lives of all family members making up the house. The real intention of this economy is distorted by modern capitalism and human greed, and the skyrocketing housing prices, which are now shaking the foundations of Korean society, is also a phenomenon of this distortion. The house is a place to live, not a means of property accumulation, and breaking this rule of economics is leading to confusion.
Let's go back to COVID-19. Everything is this world stopped with the advent of COVID-19. A keyword came up in my mind as I faced this unheard-of situation: repentance. ‘Shuv’ is a Hebrew word meaning return; this is the root of “teshuvah” which means repentance or return to God.
The famous story of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil appears in Genesis III, and the way I see it, to desire and eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is to destruct the logic of God in reference to the ecological crisis. In Genesis I and II, after creation, God said all the fruits in the garden were free to be enjoyed by human beings (We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden). However, He said not to touch the tree in the middle of the garden or there will be death. (You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.) This means that human beings can develop nature considerably, but if they break the laws of ecology that God has planted in this universe, life will become impossible.
The COVID-19 incident is the outcome of human greed and arrogance that eventually broke the ecological order by crossing the boundaries of life given by God. Hence, repentance, return! If human beings do not turn away from colonialism, domination, and hegemonism that infringes on the existence and rights of nature, there will be no way to stop this cycle of tragedy. There were theories that if human beings don’t stop destroying the ecosystem now, they will suffer from more natural disasters and serious diseases, and since then, the world really has suffered from numerous pain resulting from ecological destruction and diseases such as SARS, MERS, ZIKA, and now the all-stopping COVID-19 in the 21st century.
Last year or so, a scientist working in Antarctica shocked us by warning that glaciers, which had never melted under any climate change, had begun to melt and would melt completely by 2030. He stated this would lead to rapid rising of global temperatures and sea levels, putting survival on Earth in considerable risk. Ecologists believe that climate change has already crossed the Rubicon and is completely irreversible. Nonetheless, this world that is experiencing COVID-19 has no intention of stopping this ecological wreck and is still talking about economic activity.
My concern is that COVID-19 won't end easily and that if human beings don't immediately stop the ecological destruction, there could emerge a much stronger virus that could lead to a far more serious situation. There was a report that Bill Gates, who has donated an enormous amount of money and is eager to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, reportedly predicted that the disease that will follow COVID-19 will not be a type of coronavirus but a never before heard of disease that will lead to 30 million deaths within 6 months. Although I look into this phenomenon with a theological perspective and not complete accuracy, it seems that Bill Gates speaks with information. What's clear is that if we don't stop here, if we don’t follow God’s creation order here, there will be more serious diseases than COVID-19. We need to stop and turn around.
Humankind turning around from the current direction of civilisation and converting into a new life civilisation that aligns with God’s creation principle is the New Normal. With the temporary suspension of church ceremonies, churches are questioning if online worship can count as true worship and offline worship services should be resumed at the risk of danger since offerings are decreasing. However, this is not what is important. What really matters is the prophetic mission of proclaiming to the world an urgent message of repentance: that we must restore the history of humankind, the economic activities of humankind, the science of humankind, and the whole life of humankind to God's creative order.
A Grand Direction for Transformation of Future Human Civilisation
I believe human beings should now shift its civilisation paradigm. Details should be viewed more deeply and systematically, but from a broader perspective, I believe there are three points in terms of a shift in civilisation.
The first is that humans now have to live a life that is close to the soil, that is, nature. Gyeongan Graduate University has been continuing to host the symposium since 2017 to study how humans should live in the fourth industrial revolution and the age of artificial intelligence. This is to find the meaning and place for human beings in the age of artificial intelligence. In the first year of this symposium (2017), I suggested that in the age of artificial intelligence, humans need to become much closer to soil than to machines.
To divide world history largely into three equal parts, human beings concentrated on God until the Middle Ages. Since the Middle Ages, in other words, post humanism and reformation, we have so far focused on human beings. However, after the 21st century, humans must focus on soil or natural ecology. Artificial intelligence developers predict that artificial intelligence will achieve a singularity beyond humans in 2040 while ecologists see 2030 as a turning point in the ecological crisis. Nevertheless, Hollywood movies had already covered the prospect of a civilisation crisis beginning in 2020. The period between 2020 and 2040 is a time of divergence in which human civilisation must revolutionise the paradigm shift into entering life civilisation. The nucleus of this transition is centred on land, earth, and ecology.
The concentration on this land, earth and ecology, however, should be a new approach, repenting from the humanism of
the past in which man reigned and ruled over nature. It must consider how nature and human beings will live in harmony with the right of life given by God. This is not to say that we should go back to the primitive times. Until now, modern civilisation had been running on industrialisation, but its limitations are finally being revealed, and it is necessary to emphasize getting closer to soil and the structure of life civilisation.
Secondly, humans must de-urbanise and restore small-scale village communities. The catastrophic impacts COVID-19 had in such a short period of time was due to globalisation and urbanisation that allowed the virus to flourish in each region. Although they have been the paths to developments of civilisation that humankind has walked on, industrialisation, urbanisation, and modernisation are the dilemmas of modern civilisation in my opinion. On top of that, Globalisation has created a "Development Pandemic" from this dilemma, which is now leading to an ecological crisis and the outbreak of diseases.
Sociologists have observed that the race for urbanisation of humankind will not stop until 2050. I don't remember the exact percentage, but they stated more than half of the world's population will be centralised in cities. This will be the disaster. COVID-19 could be a small signal of this disaster.
Now the future needs to restructure society in a way as to spread out population and industries into rural areas and create small village communities. Gyeongan Graduate University created a village studies major in the Department of Social Welfare to study the academic basis for creating a village community in anticipation of this. However, perhaps
“...if human beings don’t stop destroying the ecosystem now, they will suffer from more natural disasters and serious diseases...”
people don’t understand the importance yet as not many students are showing interest. What is clear is that in the future, the government should pursue a new social structure in which life on a small scale and on a village unit are woven together. The Swaraj movement which Gandhi advocated to lead an independent life against the British Empire, is needed.
Realistically, there can’t not be a city. The important point is that cities and villages must be developed in balance. There is a political capital relocation issue currently, but this does not end with a political capital relocation. The development of local villages determines the future.
Thirdly, it is necessary to compose an industrial structure map for the position of agriculture to return to an important position even if it is not the centre of the industry. According to ecologists, 70% of the area where humans live becomes the most ecologically healthy space when farming or pasture is secured. Of course, science must develop and various industries such as heavy industry, electronics industry etc. must develop as well.
In the age of artificial intelligence, only 1% of humans who understand and deal with artificial intelligence are said to be needed. What will the other 99% do? Will 99% who cannot handle artificial intelligence become a ‘useless class’ as stated by Yuval Harari? Instead of just saying that basic income should be given because human jobs are lost in the artificial intelligence era, society should allocate 1% of the population who handle artificial intelligence to take care of the industry and have the rest 99% lead a much more relaxed style of living.
Nevertheless, the core of the future depends on the food industry that guarantees healthy lives. If COVID-19 had anything to do with food and not human health and diseases, the world would have gone into a war pandemic instead of a corona pandemic during this lockdown. There will come a day when the accessibility of healthy food becomes a very important issue. In order to protect the future, we must design a future that centres life around agriculture. There are endless factors to think about creatively, not just regarding artificial intelligence, but to make life possible in the future of life civilisation. We really must think creatively from now on.
A Concluding Remark
The story ends by quoting a poem that has been widely mentioned on the internet written by a poet named Vivienne Reich.
Coronavirus’ “Letter to Humanity”
The earth whispered but you did not hear.
The earth spoke but you did not listen.
The earth screamed but you turned her off.
And so, I was born…
I was not born to punish you…
I was born to awaken you…
The earth cried out for help…
Massive flooding. But you didn’t listen.
Burning fires. But you didn’t listen.
Strong hurricanes. But you didn’t listen.
Terrifying Tornadoes. But you didn’t listen.
You still don’t listen to the earth when Ocean animals are dying due to pollutants in the waters.
Glaciers melting at an alarming rate. Severe drought. You didn’t listen to how much negativity the earth is receiving.
It was more important to get that latest iPhone than worry about what the earth was trying to tell you…
But now I am here And I’ve made the world stop on its tracks.
I give you fever … as the fires burn on earth. I give you respiratory issues … as pollution fills the earth air.
I give you weakness as the earth weakens every day.
I took away your comforts… Your outings.
The things you would use to forget about the planet and its pain And I made the world stop…
China has better air quality … Skies are clear blue because factories are not spewing pollution unto the earth’s air.
The water in Venice is clean and dolphins are being seen. Because the gondola boats that pollute the water are not being used. YOU are having to take time to reflect on what is important in your life.
Again, I am not here to punish you … I am here to Awaken you… When all this is over and I am gone… Please remember these moments… Listen to the earth. Listen to your soul. Stop Polluting the Earth.
Stop fighting among each other.
Stop caring about materialistic things. And start loving your neighbours.
Start caring about the earth and all its creatures. Start believing in a Creator. Because next time I may come back even stronger…
This article ﬁrst appeared in the December 2020 issue of INSiGHT.
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TAKE A LOOK
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SEEN & HEARD
“We are recovering the sense of wonder at how the world was made, and we need to reclaim the theology of why it was made. We need to listen to creation so that we can move from a theology of plunder back to a theology of wonder.”Rev Rachel Mash, Provincial Canon for the Environment in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa
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