Category Archives: injustice

Resilience and the Expanding Kingdom

It has been a slam-bang beginning. This early, we have seen the ravages of wounded nature fighting back. Bushfires raging without letup in the wild outback of Australia. Taal volcano erupting, spewing a black plume of cloud-like ash falling on miles and miles of towns and cities. The novel corona virus killing hundreds in Wuhan and spreading silently and quickly its deadly menace across the globe. 
All these, plus the never-ending wrongs inflicted by corrupt governments in rogue states and the dying of democracy in this country (Philippines) — the oldest republic in Asia — and elsewhere.

In times like this it is easy to bury our heads in the sand and make what some call ‘a separate peace.’ In the face of despotic governance, many take to the high seas like our sea-faring ancestors who fled from the rule of the fabled Madjapahit empire. We do not revolt; we just migrate to other climes.

Church people see in all these signs of the ‘end times.’ Some see no reason for re-arranging social reality; it is a dying world, it is said, let us just evangelise and save as many as we can from this sinking ship.

This line of thinking misunderstands the nature of our good news. The gospel is not just about securing a ticket to heaven. It is about making this earth a bit more like heaven.

When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, he told them to bring this message to the lost sheep of Israel: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ The longed-for restoration of the Davidic kingdom, the best in their memory of what a good government is like, has come in the person of the Messiah Jesus.

The good news is that a new social order is coming into being, this time backed up by supernatural signs and wonders: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” (Matthew 10.7-8) With the coming of Jesus, the powers of heaven have descended. A new reign of justice and righteousness has begun.  

This new order inaugurated by Jesus is here now, though in many ways hidden. It becomes visible when the people of God behave like true people of the Kingdom – fighting injustice, treating with kindness and compassion those in the margins, and walking with God in such a way that we ourselves are transformed. (Micah 6.8)

At the end of the day, the story that God is weaving through the travails of our time is our own re-making as a grand ‘poem’ – a ‘workmanship,’ created and crafted by the Lord Jesus for the good work he has prepared for us beforehand. (Ephesians 2.10)

This ‘good work’ is not just the bits and pieces we do as good disciples in our lives and professions, but no less than the making of “a new heaven and a new earth.” We have been saved, not just to sit around and wait for the rapture or some such thing, but to storm the gates of hell in this sad earth. The church is not just a hospital for the walking wounded, but an army, tasked with reclaiming, inch-by-inch, territory already won by Jesus on the cross. We are to be at the center of the fray, battling against principalities and powers that are entrenched in our systems and institutions. For this reason we need to be spiritually resilient, strengthened by the Spirit and wielding the Word as a mighty sword that pierces through all sorts of fake news.

The end of this story, we are told, is that we shall be like a spotless Bride coming down from heaven, inhabiting a new Jerusalem set in a new earth that we shall inherit.  (Rev.21.1-7)

The Bible tells us that we are not really going anywhere, but here. In Jesus, heaven has come down, and the kingdoms of this world are becoming the kingdom of our God. (Rev.11.15)

Melba Padilla Maggay
President, Micah Global 

Saved!

At a conference in Kenya recently I noticed that each speaker or participant introduced themselves by stating their name, where they come from and then that they were saved or born again.

Throughout the Bible we see God being described as Saviour and Redeemer, and in the New Testament Jesus is frequently given this title. God always seems to be taking the initiative to come and save us. “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Saviour of the World” – 1 John 4:14.

As we celebrated Christmas we recognised Jesus as coming into the world as the Saviour. Indeed, his very name means God the Saviour (as it relates to the Hebrew root word for “rescuer, deliverer, healer”). The whole Bible is the story of God being Lord and Saviour. With so much evidence in the Bible about salvation and the Saviour, we must be sure that we understand what we mean when we talk about salvation or ‘being saved’.

When working for an aid project in Mozambique after the floods of 2000, rebuilding destroyed homes, our team were returning to Maputo after celebrating the opening of these houses. One of our team cars was involved in an accident when a man stepped into the road and was hit by their car. Tragically, he later died in hospital. The driver of the car was in a state of shock and her faith was shattered. She said to me “I thought God was my saviour. If he can’t save me from such an accident, and if he can’t heal the man injured, then I am unsafe, uncertain and confused.”

Many people were physically healed by Jesus and later, his disciples. We have many stories and testimonies of people being healed today. Similarly, we have stories of liberation, of communities lifted out of poverty, of environmental recovery and bumper harvests, of justice being gained, of peace and reconciliation attained. We rejoice, we celebrate and we give thanks, and naturally long for much more. The Bible describes these amazing occurrences as “signs of the kingdom.” Lazarus was raised from the dead, but he also later would face death again. The 5,000 who were fed by Jesus, had to find food the next day. The signs of the Kingdom point to the King and all that he has accomplished on the Cross and will finally accomplish forever when he returns. Then there will no longer be illness, hunger, homelessness, injustice or environmental degradation.

So salvation now does not mean we will never face hardship, financial insecurity, Illness, injustice and or death. Salvation is the Good News that Jesus has rescued us from slavery to darkness, rebellion and death. He has set us free. A freedom in which we now are joint heirs in Christ of all he has created. As we live out this truth we become signs of the Kingdom of God too. We manifest the “not yet in the now”. Signs of liberation, transformation, healing, and restoration should be present in and through all we do and say, but they are not the salvation, only Jesus is the Saviour.

Let’s look deeper at the example of the tragedy in Mozambique. Just after the accident a large angry crowd gathered around our team’s car and our team were afraid. A pickup truck suddenly stopped. Two people from Samaritan’s Purse got out and helped. They took the injured man to hospital (no ambulances were available). We arrived ten minutes later, walked into the crowd and were able to calm them down, reassuring them that we were going to act justly. We offered them to choose a few of the community to come with us as we went to the police and hospital. They did. We amazed them as we showed another way to respond in love and compassion.

We covered the costs of hospital for the man and then offered his bereaved family help to cover the funeral costs. We met the family and loved the best we could. When the court heard all we had done they were amazed and said no one had ever responded in such away and no fines were given as they felt we had extended support to the family more than would be required by law. The driver of the car was still fragile in faith and in shock, and so she went back to her home church for a number of months to be ministered to through this tough season. We worked with her pastor and when she was ready, she returned.

This too shows signs of the Kingdom. When the people of God respond in compassion, when they pursue justice and care for creation, we will see these signs and indeed, see transformation, but salvation is found only in Christ. This is why integral mission is so vitally important. We cannot just do good works, as much as they are amazing signs of the Kingdom, we must also share the hope we have in our Saviour, so that all who see the signs, who experience the love we share, will turn to Christ and be saved.

Sheryl Haw
Director Micah Global

Prince of Peace?

As we head towards Christmas and celebrate the Prince of Peace coming into the world, it is hard to rationalise this truth with the world news that points to ever increasing violence and suffering. Some would even say it is utopian to imagine a world without conflict, suffering, injustice and poverty.

As we continue to pray for the DRC, and especially Beni, as they face atrocities that appear to be driven by those who seek economic benefit from instability, it is difficult to imagine peace for communities there. In a world in need of food, clean water, shelter and health access, we are astounded to see how much money goes into military activities. Societies even vote for leaders who promise to increase military expenditure!

How do we speak peace/shalom into contexts like these?

We can hope for the promise of peace when Christ returns. (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3; Psalm 46:8-10). Revelation paints an exciting picture of wealth being shared, of no more death, no more war, no more suffering. The presence of the tree of life whose leaves will be used to heal the nations (Revelation 22:2) gives us a sense of hope and anticipation.

More than that – the level of reconciliation that God promises is one in which the lion and lamb lie down together (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25).

This redemption and restoration includes not only humanity but all of creation, which we know is groaning for this to happen (Romans 8:22). We read in Revelation 5:13-14 that all creatures will be praising God.

What a joyful future to imagine, to hope for, to believe in and to move towards!

But what about today?

On the one hand we lament and protest against the injustice, the suffering, the conflict, and the poverty we see today, but on the other hand we rejoice in the knowledge that God will defeat evil and will bring peace.

Ambassadors and Servants

We are called to be Christ’s ambassadors of this New Kingdom. In everything we do and say we represent to our hurting world the truth of the new Kingdom and we live in its reality so that wherever we are, we are salt and light for people to taste and see the tangible evidence. We are also servants and follow in our Master’s footsteps to bring liberation, freedom, healing, comfort and hope to all around us. Jesus had time for the one in the crowd who needed his healing, as well as for the 5,000 on the hillside who needed to be fed.

As we pray, lament, protest and rejoice we declare the Kingdom of God, we proclaim the Good News in a world that so needs this truth.

Come, let’s walk together!

By Sheryl Haw