Welcome to the January 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 consider the protests in Hong Kong and how Christians should engage with the issues behind them; we examine spiritual warfare and mission, asking what we can learn from an African context; we look at strategies for staying updated and relevant as we seek to follow Jesus globally; and we ask how we can use stories from the Disney universe to help communicate the gospel and its values to the young.
‘Since June, 2019, [Hong Kong] has been in a state of unrest’, writes Francis Tsui (Board member of Asia CMS). What started as a protest against the government’s effort to push through a Fugitive Offenders Ordinance amendment has turned into a major show of displeasure at deep-seated socio-economic problems. It also reflects growing discomfort over China as more people have become fearful that both local identity and personal prospects are being squashed. Young generations have grown up with the proliferation of universal values such as freedom and democracy. People are looking for hope through political reform. Many believe that universal suffrage is the only assurance for the freedom they enjoy and the autonomy China has promised. Underlying the drive for autonomy is a deep concern about identity. The younger generation is increasingly growing up in a state of spiritual poverty, social inertia, and a longing for authentic relationships. Many months of upheavals have challenged the church’s relevance in a changing context. It is also as divided as the community around it, either along political/ideological or generational lines. We are called to testify to God’s Kingdom coming to earth to transform people’s lives holistically rather than simply bringing about political solutions. The church needs to stand with the weak and the suffering. There are people living in fear, crying out for hope, isolated, alienated and looking for community. There are nextgens searching for approval and acceptance, and an identity of which they can feel proud. ‘In Jesus there is the ultimate hope that humanity can depend on, an intimacy that enriches, and an identity as children of God’, he concludes.
‘This article explores the intersection between spiritual warfare and Christian mission from an African perspective’, writes Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu (President of Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon, Ghana). In the African context generally, there is a strong belief in mystical causality, the worldview on which spiritual warfare activity is founded. The relationship between spiritual warfare and the mission of the church is partly evident in the popularity of Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity, which, on account of a strong belief in the power of the Holy Spirit, consciously integrates spiritual warfare into Christian ministry as a form of pastoral care. The theology of spiritual interventionism is anchored in the general Pentecostal belief that Christians have been given the power to engage in spiritual warfare and is inspired by the ministries of Jesus, the Apostles, and the writings of Paul. Spiritual warfare is a global phenomenon that has not been fully explored yet in the study of world Christianity. If we seek to do mission in the spirit of Christ, then his activities of exorcism and deliverance ought to be understood to be part of what it means to preach the gospel. The way to respond to the abuses that have characterized spiritual warfare is not to reject it altogether, but rather, to accept its worldview as biblically and culturally valid and articulate more balanced responses to it. ‘One way to do this is to nurture the graces of those so gifted by the Spirit in the ministries of healing and deliverance so that they can help to deal with problems that are of supernatural provenance’, he concludes.
For the last ten years we have been working increasingly across sectors (humanitarian, health, development, United Nations) as psychologists in mission, write Kelly O’Donnell and Michele Lewis O’Donnell (consulting psychologists). Central to our work has been a simple, strategic framework for engaging actively and responsibly with our world, locally through globally, for God’s glory, which we call Global Integration (GI). We seek to ‘integrate’ our lives by connecting relationally and contributing relevantly on behalf of human wellbeing and the issues facing humanity, finding common ground for the common good. There is a huge effort underway to promote sustainable development and wellbeing for all people. As Christians, we have an unprecedented opportunity to get involved globally and to partner with others in such efforts. GI involves living consistently and accountably in moral wholeness at all levels: individual, interpersonal, institutional, and international. We think we can do much better at transforming our world if God is included and honoured in our efforts and if we start with transformation in our own hearts. In summary, GI is a framework to help us invest in fellow humans in every sphere of influence in which we live. It helps us to forge new relationships and pursue new opportunities in addressing major issues affecting our world and especially the church-mission community’s work among unreached peoples. ‘It supports our efforts to be salt and light, to live as global citizens for God’s glory, calling upon our best selves, the common sense of our human belonging, identity, and mutual responsibility’, they conclude.
‘Kids and young people . . . today are increasingly digital, surrounded by both media gadgets and media stories that play a big part in their lives’, writes Tonje Belibi (Assistant Professor at Fjellhaug International University College in Norway). The cinema may well outdo the church in providing them with some of their religious ideas. Walt Disney was a moviemaker who wished both to deliver a message and make good entertainment. The ‘Disney universe’ is now a fantasy world that entertains and educates children globally. Its stories often mirror values found in or imported from Western society such as individualism. By familiarizing ourselves with the values that are presented in the Disney universe, we can obtain insights into the frame of reference that kids are exposed to through other media stories. Several Disney films also have spiritual dimensions, often mixing Judaeo-Christian teaching with other religious elements and then ‘putting some magic on top’ to make your dreams come true. The Disney universe influences the young in both positive and negative ways; we need to underscore both the points of concordance and discordance between the Christian faith and the Disney universe. We can watch movies with the youth, get to know what their media world contains, and talk about it open-mindedly. ‘If we as a global church can point to Jesus through the different messages the young generation receive, the process will show us and them the unselfish, loving nature of our Lord who in bravery sacrificed the pursuit of his own happiness to make the dream of mankind come true—to live happily ever after’, 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 March.