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Southeast Asian consultation-dialogue on holistic mission

CCA-FMU organized the Southeast Asian sub-regional consultation-dialogue on "Holistic Mission in the Context of Asian Plurality," at the UCCP Shalom Center in Manila, Philippines on March 24-29. It was hosted by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and supported by Kerkinactie/ICCO.

The objectives of the consultation were: (i) To review, assess and critique the impact of traditional and narrow mission orientation and practice in Asia; (ii) To confess our participation in such traditional and narrow mission orientation and practice; (iii) To equip ourselves, our member churches and their related agencies (e.g. Bible schools and seminaries) with holistic mission understanding and practice in view of the context of Asian plurality; and (iv) To share and publish stories and experiences of alternative forms of mission that are more holistic but less known in Asia.

Participants included staff of mission and ecumenism of the national councils or national churches, professors of mission from church-related theological institutions and representatives of mission-sending churches in Korea and Taiwan.

Countries represented were Indonesia, East Timor, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and Philippines. Cambodia could not be present because of their General Assembly held at that time. Of the 34 participants, 11 were women and three younger people.

Resource persons were: Rev. Fr. Rex Resurrection Reyes (General Secretary of NCC Philippines) who gave the keynote speech; Rev. Dr. Robinson Radjagukguk (visiting professor in the Philippines from Indonesia through UEM) who gave the biblico-theological foundations of mission from Asian eyes; Rev. Dr. Cung Lian Hup (professor at Myanmar Institute of Theology) who gave an input on "holistic mission in the context of poverty and injustice in Asia"; Rev. Dr. Erick Barus (staff of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia) who gave an input on "holistic mission in the context of Asian plurality."

A panel of representatives from mission-sending churches consisted of Rev. Shin Seung Min (staff for ecumenism of the Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea), Rev. Kim Kyung In (staff for ecumenism and policy of the Presbyterian Church in Korea), and Rev. Dr. Chuang Hsiao-Shen (representing the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan).

Sharing some alternative ways of doing mission were: Rev. Son Sung Kyu (from PCK doing natural farming among the poor, including Muslims, in Davao, Philippines) and Rev. Kim Hyun Sook (from PROK, doing accompanying work in Iloilo and Bukidnon). The group visited a number of depressed communities in Manila: a Muslim migrant community, a slum/squatter community, a fishing community, and a garbage community.

Based on their evaluation, participants found the consultation helpful and meaningful. The time and space together was one of open and honest sharing (a trusted space). The visit to the depressed communities touched many participants – someone said experiential learning is more powerful than classroom discussion.

The visit evoked many feelings, including a questioning of 'where is God' in such inhuman situations. It challenged some to concretize their theology of incarnation and encouraged others to strengthen their mission in holistic aspects. The sharing of mission journeys, panel sharing and Bible study were specially cited as most helpful and meaningful. However, the lack of evangelical presence in the consultation was noted. FMU staff did try to invite two Korean missionaries in the Philippines from the Assembly of God and while they had sent in their confirmation already, they finally pulled out due to some emergency at their mission field.

A number of participants mentioned how the consultation encouraged them to continue to provide re-orientation to their local churches which tend to focus only on evangelism work; and to continue interfaith dialogue at the grassroots level. An indigenous priest from Malaysia said he now wishes to learn more about contextualization of mission. The group requested that Bible study materials and stories on holistic mission be produced by CCA to help guide the local churches in re-orienting members towards more holistic mission.

posted by hope on Thursday, April 10, 2008  

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