A New FACE
Date: Monday February 17, 2014 / Author of post: cwmcaribbean
Do You See Christ?
“What do we see when we look into the face of an exploited woman? Do we see Christ looking back at us?”
“The pain of others should be our pain…”
“Slavery is abolished but we continue to search for freedom.”
“I believe that present order of the world is based on very complicated and immoral economic structure of the Empire.”
These are excerpts from reflections by ministers in Council for World Mission’s A New FACE (Faith and Culture Experience) programme 2014. Ten ministers from churches across the spectrum of the Council for World Mission international family spent 7 weeks in the Caribbean hosted by the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands engaging in bible study, critical reflection, warm fellowship, community placements, building lasting relationship and getting to know contexts different from their own.
The programme included introduction to Jamaica and Caribbean realities, living in homes of families within United Church congregations in Jamaica and Cayman, a time of refreshing and getting to know colleague ministers in the United Church and finally a week of reporting and presentations. The ministers were introduced to Caribbean worship, hospitality, native food and energetic dialect.
The ministers explored CWM’s theological statement: Mission in the Context of Empire focussing on three issues – Climate Change, Human Trafficking and Economic Justice – all of which are crucial points of pain for the Caribbean context. They were accompanied by Chaplains and Theological Facilitators. The latter provided guided reflections to assist the participants in making progress with their reflection papers; challenging them to see God in a new context. They asked questions that would challenge them to explore new ideas with confidence and to explore issues they may have encountered during their research and study periods. The visiting ministers were also encouraged to look for manifestations of Empire, its exploitative and controlling nature.
Reflecting on the experience of study, Malcolm Fife of the United Reformed Church asked a critical question – What can we as a Christian community do to help? Among the approaches identified is Prayer – for broken hearts, organizations working to combat human trafficking, for the healing and rescue of all victims; study of God’s Word regarding injustice; awareness building by reading reports, watching documentaries; inviting a speaker to address the church on the subject of human trafficking; mentoring young people in the community and supporting one of the anti-trafficking organizations that exist in the world.
In one setting greater ecumenical collaboration was highlighted as a critical response to the needs of the community in regard to economic justice. In another research-driven planning for mission was identified and committed to as important to mission engagement. The challenge to work against gender stereotyping was identified and embraced by a participant as a mission opportunity. Re-framing worship to a more creative and engaging experience was the chosen action item for another participant. The collegial challenge to take up the battle for more active congregational involvement came during discussions on climate change and human trafficking through bible study and community action.
The topic of Climate Change was explored in the Cayman Islands where group discussions were held and interviews conducted with persons of interest and experts in the fields of meteorology and climatology. Site visits were also arranged to places affected by climate change.
Climate change was a controversial issue for some – “was this the hand of God or of man”. Rev. Elma Sakaio from Papua New Guinea counselled that the church must have a clear understanding of this issue so that congregations could be positively guided.
Rev. Tabora Rosin of the Solomon Islands emphasized the fact that Christians were called to live out their faith by taking action in the midst of political, social and economic injustice, which caused such problems as human trafficking.
Rev. Charity Mwale of Zambia was grateful for her exposure to the issue of human trafficking through ANF. She pledged to use the information to build awareness in Zambia using the Esther story from the bible. She concluded that the church could emulate Esther; “Arise and be relevant for we are the Esther of this generation”.
Rev. Heesook Koo of South Korea stated that she has discovered that behind this beautiful and relaxed people there was a lot of suffering due to economic hardships.
In one setting of ANF 2014, there was a panel discussion on Economic Justice, which included a variety of denominations in the community. As a result the idea of a fraternal was proposed for continuing ecumenical engagement. It was also decided that further research will be undertaken by some young persons in the community to better identify the economic issues of concern facing the community so that the church can craft a credible response.
Some of the visitors pointed to the stark cultural differences, in some instances that they have seen, but indicated that they had learned to accept that this was a cross cultural experience.
Having fun at the Opening Event.
Rev. Misiperetiso Ivara greets the group in his native tongue.
Rev. Elma Sakaoi performs a native dance from Papua New Guinea.