Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Working Together in a Community Garden: Justice in CTC, EG, TTL

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Working Together in a Community Garden: Justice in CTC, EG, TTL

Article excerpt


From the context of ministry in Guatemala, the author explores themes of injustice and loving service, need and promise in the Lausanne Movement document known as The Cape Town Commitment, the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, and the ecumenical text on mission and evangelism Together towards Life, with a particular focus on justice and Christian mission. Common elements are depicted through the image of a community garden exhibiting biodiversity and requiring a diversity of talents to flourish.


Whereas injustice and oppression have plagued humanity since the dawn of time, the globalizing forces of recent decades have unleashed a new storm which threatens our very existence. Troubling questions arise. Has the Christian Church fallen asleep in the boat? Is the liberating and reconciling Christ, who brings justice to the nations, discernible to the world in our lives, and in the praxis of our churches? What message of transformative hope do our mission efforts bear? Can a concerted justice response arise from a chronically fragmented Body of Christ?

Though this article is global in nature, my personal context, as a mission practitioner in Guatemala, bears witness to its urgency. Like so many developing nations, Guatemala has long paid a heavy price for international economic, trade, and military policies beyond its control. This precious land, soaked with the blood of martyrs, still recuperating from the effects of a brutal 36-year civil war, longs to see the fruit of justice, sown in peace, but instead reaps a harvest of poverty, corruption, murder, and ecocide.

With nearly 90 percent of the population claiming to be Christian, the inter- ecclesial climate is plagued by mistrust, demonization, and competition. Yet with rich indigenous roots, a tapestry of colourful culture, and new signs of flowering hope, as nonviolent protest takes Guatemala to the streets, might this be a kairos moment for the land of eternal spring? Might this be a kairos moment for the world?

What fresh mission vision might unite and energize Christians in the Guatemalas of our common home, attracting solidarity from those in wealthier nations, in pursuit of a unifying dream of shalom, of transformative justice? As those longing to be led by the Spirit to bring tangibly good news to the poor, and hope for a new creation: where might the streams of New Pentecost be carrying us? What fertile seeds of justice must we plant together in the barren deserts of Babel?

This article seeks to discover some of those seeds of justice in the heart of the three mission treatises before us: The Cape Town Commitment, The Joy of the Gospel., and Together towards Life. For each document, we will consider the stream from which it flows and the unique contribution it makes towards the promotion of justice. We will then reflect on some common themes, and sketch possibilities for how the interplay of those gifts might contribute to the "biodiversity" of the new creation, where "justice flows down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

The Cape Town Commitment: The Stream of Evangelical Holism

The Lausanne Movement for Evangelization finds its historic Evangelical roots in European Pietism of the 17th and 18th centuries. This powerful renewal movement produced the zealous Moravians, the passion of John Wesley, and the Great Awakening in America. Some of its hallmarks include a love for the Bible, an emphasis on conversion, holiness, and the Lordship of Christ, a commitment to mission, and a zeal for the glory of God. While the Lausanne Movement, launched in 1974, certainly reflects all of this and more, it was the intervention of two South American theologians in that first gathering, Rene Padilla and Samuel Escobar, that would help shape what it is today, planting the seeds for greater global Christian unity and integral (holistic) mission. This was a significant turning point in helping move Evangelicals out of an isolationist, privatized spirituality, into the public square. …

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