Academic journal article International Review of Mission

A Personal Tribute to the International Review of Mission

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

A Personal Tribute to the International Review of Mission

Article excerpt

Abstract

On the basis of my own familiarity with the IRM as one of its former editors, I celebrate the journal' s importance to me personally and to mission studies in the ecumenical family by selecting a few significant contributions for comment: "The Kingdom of God as Strategy for Mission" by Raymond Fungi; "The Liturgy after the Liturgy," by Professor Ion Bria; "Gospel, Cultures and Filipina Migrant Workers," by Jane Corpuz-Brock; "Section III: The Earth is the Lord's", from San Antonio; and "Towards a New Christian Sexual Ethics in the Light of HIV/AIDS", by Armin Zimmermann.

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In 1979 I was given my first personal copy of the International Review of Mission by Orlando Costas, Director of the Latin American Center for Pastoral Studies, based in San Jose. With my having collaborated with him on mission publications in Latin America, he thought I would find the journal's global and ecumenical scope stimulating, and he could not have been more right. I remember vividly how I read that particular volume from cover to cover, completely drawn into the character and substance of its contents. Over the years, and especially during my short term as its editor, I have been impressed by the way in which the journal functions as a riving library of the theology and practice of mission from a global and ecumenical perspective.

The kingdom of God as strategy for mission

At the beginning of the April, 1979 issue of the IRM, in his article, "The Kingdom of God as Strategy for Mission," (1) Raymond Fung's unusual association of the notion of strategy with the Kingdom of God, and his clear personal opening words, beckoned me to read on:

   It is ten years since I first began my involvement in urban
   industrial mission in Hong Kong ... My colleagues and I have tried
   to share the Christian faith with factory workers in the context of
   participation in their struggles for dignity and justice. Most of
   us are well-educated and have middle-class backgrounds. We also
   have a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. (2)

Fung's intent is to show that the kingdom of God suggests what mission looks like and how it works. He tells about a Bible study he led with factory workers on the miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11), and how the factory workers identified with Peter in his lament to Jesus, "We have worked hard all night and caught nothing." In the course of their discussion, the workers suddenly discovered a connection between their own world of long, hard labour, without anything to show for it, and the world of Jesus. They saw that the world of Jesus was also made up of people who worked hard and suffered. But, how different were the values that operated in these two worlds.

   In the world of modern industrial Hong Kong, the fact of people
   working their guts out and not making enough to live in decency is
   not an issue. Nobody gives a hoot. But in the world of Jesus, Simon
   Peter's cry of anguish is listened to and responded to, his needs
   are met, and yet he is challenged to give up what he rightfully
   possesses. (3)

Fung describes the reality in which people encounter the world of Jesus in relation to their own existential reality, a point of contact or overlap. In this situation people are drawn into the world of Jesus and find a welcome there. They would still need to make a choice, but they would do so as invited guests, deciding whether or not to join the community in which God's rule is recognised.

The kingdom of God, then, suggests that mission should take the form of building community, an environment in which God's rule is recognised, and where the values of justice, peace and love operate. (4) How mission works is through invitation into this Christian community that lives by a spirit of generosity and solidarity, and that with its roots embedded in people's concrete life situations, confronts the principalities and powers of the world. …

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