CHURCH AND COMMUNITY
By David Coffey
You have asked me to address the subject of Church and Community, and I suggest that we begin by admitting that humanly speaking the task of changing anything in the world is beyond us. This is not the same as the defeatist manner which is overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges.
There are Christians who see the devastating effects of war and poverty and disease, and think the Church is powerless to do anything. I am not recommending a helpless defeatism which walks away from a wounded world. I am suggesting that a position of vulnerability is a good place for the church to begin. We can’t be partners in God’s work and then insist on doing it our way.Read
Roshan Mendis, Chief Executive Officer, LEADS (Lanka Evangelical Alliance Development Service), a National NGO in Sri Lanka. He also served as Micah Asia chair and on the Micah International Board
Micah 6:8 – What does the Lord require from us? To do justice, love mercy and to walk humbly with God.
My life’s passion from when I first felt called by God to serve has been to those under served, vulnerable and on the fringes of society. So, rather than continuing in the line of family business, I chose rural missions. With no formal awareness or training it was simply an underlying drive that I perceived as the emphasis of Biblical mission. It formed the basis of my thinking as I researched my post-graduate studies. However, it was not until that first meeting in Oxford way back in 2001 when I had the opportunity of being part of the beginnings of Micah that I felt a keen resonance and connection as I was able to hear the articulation of Integral Mission. From that point on I knew this was what I believed and sought to fulfil in my service.
From that first opportunity to participate at a Micah consultation up till today, I have found every single Micah gathering a great opportunity for learning. This happens both in shared contexts as a community of practice and as direct capacity strengthening; a valuable means of developing both my theological understanding and practical skills for the humanitarian work I engage in. Since then, I have participated in Micah Global Consultations and numerous Micah Conversations, which has helped me deepen my understanding of Integral Mission and grapple with what it means in different national contexts, as well as provided me with humanitarian skill development, organisational development, best practices and governance, to name a few. The uniqueness about the knowledge I received by being involved in the Micah Global network was not limited to learnings, but also strengthened my personal call as a Christian called to engage in the marketplace with distinctiveness and a prophetic voice.
The gatherings have provided me the amazing privilege of befriending, networked and getting acquainted with a diverse array of Christians from across the globe, that live and work among the multitude of issues that are present in the world and in their nations, the wars, the corruption, the exploitation, the injustices, the poverty, the lack of resources, environmental degradation, climate change, and disease. I have been encouraged to fellowship with a community of practice, with Micah, that does not simply throw up their arms in helplessness and hide behind a spirituality that removes itself from the realities around them, but actually engages with the injustice and issues as a Biblical and Kingdom mandate. Micah has also modelled a framework of partnership, that challenges established donor/implementer models, and is one I promote in whatever context partnership is discussed. The platform that Micah created for contributing our perspectives, bringing to the table our concerns and even fashioning practice and systems like, reporting templates, gender, governance etc., has been unique in its scope.
As an individual from the global south, Micah was one forum where I experienced an honest openness to hear from and be guided by the priorities of these nations. My engagement and involvement with Micah has provided me with many opportunities and has supported our efforts to speak out against injustice, defend the cause of the poor, hold accountable those in power and empower people to speak for themselves. I believe that mediating on behalf of those unable to voice their concerns should be the DNA running in our veins. Just as the Spirit groans for us and our needs – do we groan for those downtrodden, the despised, the marginalised, the vulnerable, those abused and discarded? Indeed, if the Spirit of the Lord is in my soul – I should not only be dancing as David danced but groaning as well!
As one whose life and ministry has been blessed by the ministry of Micah I would like to invite you to come and be challenged by participating in the Global Consultation in September 2018. The theme of the Consultation – Integral Mission and Resilient Communities, is apt given the current global scenario. Resilience and Justice, Resilience and Compassion, Resilience and Disasters and Resilience and Partnership will be discussed in groups through the plenary sessions. The inter-active sessions will also help you to sharpen your thinking and advocacy as part of our prophetic role.