Welcome to the March issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, which is also available in Portuguese and Spanish and for the first time in French. We look forward to your feedback on it.
In this issue we explore servant leadership as modelled by Jesus, suggesting principles for global 21st century mission; we ask how we can engage Sikhs, adherents of the world’s fifth largest religion; we consider creation care as part of the mission of the church in the light of the Amazon fires; and we examine global terrorism from an African perspective asking how we should understand and respond to it.
‘Servant-leadership is a paradox, an oxymoron. It is the controversial fusion of opposites—a servant and a leader—that produces the leader par excellence’, writes Mary Ho (International Executive Leader of All Nations). In this global 21st century, mission leaders and workers are not simply addressing linear situations but complex dilemmas. Servant-leadership is the timeless, universal leadership model to address the issues of this complex century. Everyone can become a servant-leader. Moreover, servant-leaders are from every culture—and effective in reaching people of every culture and religion. While all cultures and religions may display aspects of servant-leadership, Jesus Christ is the ultimate embodiment of a servant-leader. Experts have identified seven polarized binaries of servant-leadership that address all cross-cultural dilemmas. While these dimensions are not overtly spiritual, nevertheless Jesus exemplifies each of them. Jesus made the greatest cultural leap in history, from heavenly divinity to earthly humanity. He seamlessly integrated the compound leadership styles of a servant-leader. At the Last Supper, Jesus established a new hyperculture that transcended all cultures by exhorting us, ‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet’ (John 13:14). That evening, he commanded us to love one another, not simply as we love ourselves, but as he loves us. ‘It is unfathomable, but it is the transcendent dilemmatic culture of servant-leadership’, she concludes.
‘Sikhs are adherents of Sikhism, a monotheistic religion founded in Punjab, India, in 1469, by Guru Nanak Dev’, writes Sadiri Joy Tira (Coordinator for the Lausanne North American Diaspora Strategy Group). Today, Sikhism is the world’s fifth-largest religion. It is estimated that there are 27 million followers of Sikhism in India, and around the world. While most Sikhs are found in Punjab and other northern states of India, large numbers are in diaspora. Unlike Hindus who are polytheistic, the Sikhs, like Christians, are monotheistic. Furthermore, like Christianity, Sikhism teaches that all humans are created equal, and emphasizes a life of worship, discipline, and service. These commonalities provide bridges for discussion and relationship-building. In recent years, there have been growing reports of Sikhs deciding to follow Jesus in India and in the diaspora communities. For kingdom impact, where Sikhs are found, believers must engage them and lead them to the ‘ultimate Guru’, Jesus Christ. Tira writes, ‘As I end my term as the Lausanne Movement’s Catalyst for Diasporas, I was recently overjoyed to witness the Movement’s embrace of the Sikhs, as demonstrated in the support for the first Lausanne Movement-sponsored Global Sikh Consultation.’ The consultation’s ‘invitation to prayer’ for the Sikh people would be a good starting point in seeking to engage with Sikhs in friendship evangelism. God has orchestrated the planting of the ‘seed’ in the hearts of many Sikhs in India and those scattered outside their homeland. We must be courageous and persistent in our ministry to them. ‘The global church must open its doors, extending hospitality and friendship’, he concludes.
‘The 2019 dry-season Amazon fires drew attention from political leaders and church organizations worldwide’, writes Tim Carriker (lecturer in numerous Brazilian theological institutions). Yet, these still-burning Amazon fires are only a part of an extremely complex web of events related to an increasing planetary crisis. The environmental role that the Amazon plays is not only critical for regional climate patterns but also in the regulation of the earth’s climate. As such the fires raise important questions about an appropriate Christian response. The world reacted strongly to the fires. There were protests in many cities around the world as well as horror and dismay over Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. However, there are broadly two contrary reactions to the fires. On one side are those who defend a sustainable planet for the future survival of human civilization. On the other side are those who defend the right of exploration of natural resources. The clash is no less prevalent within the Christian community, deeply complicating the possibility of a united Christian response. Still, some biblical guidelines must be sought, regardless of one’s eschatological views; and some perspectives that need consideration are outlined. The single most strategic action to resolve the long-term effects of the Amazonian fires and deforestation is the mobilization of local churches and Christian organizations to plant trees. ‘Churches and Christian organizations can play their part in pilot programs and promote commercial and government initiatives at local and international levels to do the same’, he concludes.
‘Terrorism is a monstrous global problem in our time’, writes Wanjiru Gitau (senior research scholar at St. Thomas University). The transmutation of groups, such as Al-Qaida and ISIS into regional groups, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabab in East Africa, presents a challenge to governments and local communities—including churches, as Christians remain a core target. Christians need to be better prepared, particularly as church communities. In Nairobi for instance, nearly all churches in the city are guarded by armed security. Some churches have constructed adaptive soft barriers at entrances, while ushers and Sunday greeters are trained to be security aware. Christians are often targeted as easy targets, while Islamist terrorism is often actually directed against other perceived enemies. This is not to downplay situations of actual persecution against Christians. However, by and large, in the case of terror attacks, Christians are a proxy target. The real answer to terrorism lies in the power of sociability. In many parts of the world, people who are different in worldview, religion, and language, have lived side by side for a long time. This is an opportunity for Christians everywhere to get to know, and intentionally to build bridges with, Muslim neighbors in a rediscovery of incarnational ministry. Incarnation is not always about direct conversion. ‘It is that; but it also about discerning witness by life, example, friendship, and sheer human sociability, trusting that in his providence, God would enable these incarnational relationships to morph into redemptive influences in place of the coercive, terrorist influences forged in isolation’, she concludes.
We hope that you find this issue stimulating and useful. Our aim is to deliver strategic and credible analysis, information and insight so that as a leader you will be better equipped for the task of world evangelization. It’s our desire that the analysis of current and future trends and developments will help you and your team make better decisions about the stewardship of all that God has entrusted to your care.
Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue of The Lausanne Global Analysis will be released in May.