Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Mission Together toward Economy of Life: Feminist Perspectives

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Mission Together toward Economy of Life: Feminist Perspectives

Article excerpt

Mission toward economy of life

The new mission statement produced by the World Council of Churches (WCC), Together towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes, grapples with the current context of a brutal, complex globalized economy that is enriching a powerful and privileged few at the expense of the lives of the majority of people subsisting in poverty and the planet's increasingly fragile ecosystems. It observes:

   Jesus has told us "You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6: 24,
   KJV). The policy of unlimited growth through the domination of the
   global free market is an ideology that claims to be without
   alternative, demanding an endless flow of sacrifices from the poor
   and from nature. "It makes the false promise that it can save the
   world through creation of wealth and prosperity, claiming
   sovereignty over life and demanding total allegiance, which amounts
   to idolatry." This is a global system of mammon that protects the
   unlimited growth of wealth of only the rich and powerful through
   endless exploitation. (1)

In an economic landscape marked by pervasive suffering amidst unprecedented plenty and widespread ecological devastation, Together towards Life affirms that "the purpose of God's mission is fullness of life for all" (John 10: 10). Thus, the role of mission today is to resist idolatry in free market capitalism, "to denounce the economy of greed, and to participate in and practice the divine economy of love, sharing, and justice." (2) In other words, mission today must join in the urgent task of building life-affirming economies that benefit all across gender, race, class/casteism, age, ability, or sexual orientation.

Together towards Life poses challenges to churches' and Christians' missionary work toward an "economy of life": "How can we proclaim the good news and values of God's kingdom in the global market, or win over the spirit of the market? What kind of missional action can the church take in the midst of economic and ecological injustice and crisis on a global scale?" (3) It also offers a paradigm change in missional engagement, from "mission to the margins" to "mission from the margins," declaring:

   Mission has been understood as a movement taking place from the
   center to the periphery, and from the privileged to the
   marginalized of society. Now people at the margins are claiming
   their key role as agents of mission and affirming mission as
   transformation. This reversal of roles in terms of envisioning
   mission has strong biblical foundations because God chose the poor,
   the foolish and the powerless (1 Corinthians 1: 18-31) to further
   God's mission of justice and peace so that life may flourish. (4)

Against this backdrop, this paper invites readers to put on gender-just lenses in engaging in mission toward economy of life. For what has yet to be mentioned is that women comprise the greater part (60-70 percent) of the global poor who are compelled to make sacrifices in the name of growth and development and who suffer the brunt of chronic financial and economic crises. Moreover, women - who have the main responsibility for everyday tasks of preparing meals; collecting firewood, water, and medicinal herbs; and planting rice and other food staples - are disproportionately affected by human-induced climate change and other burgeoning ecological issues that are inextricably rooted in our unsustainable and destructive systems of production and consumption. While they produce more than 60 percent of the world's food and other produce, they own only less than 2 percent of the world's property and account for 70 percent of the population living in absolute poverty. (5)

At the same time, women are not merely victims of the development agenda. They are frequently at the forefront of struggles to defend livelihoods and creation. They have an essential and transformative role in envisioning and constructing an economy of life. …

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