Jurgen Moltmann is perhaps my favorite contemporary theologian. I appreciate that he has something to say about important issues being faced by the church and even the world. I believe, he has something to say not only to the church but also to the world. And he does it through his theological discourse. This is the reason that the world appreciates Moltmann, he is a theologian, not for the church alone but for the whole world. In this post I related his ideas with my experience in the mission field.
One of the members of our small, struggling church here in the border of
Stories like these are very common here. We often hear stories of injustice and human right violations from all Burmese migrant workers we come to know and love. We believe that God brought us here because he knows that we can do something about the state of affairs. Our mission is not only to share the gospel but do something to fight the injustice being committed to the people who are victims of political mess in their country.
Moltmann have something to say about this by emphasizing that church mission is mission dei. The concept here is that mission is neither a program of the church or any mission organization but rather mission is an attribute of God. Mission comes first from the heart of God and we are caught up in it rather than initiating it. Mission is primarily the work of God and we participate with God in what he is doing. Missio dei is this:
The Father sends the Son,
The Father and the Son send the Spirit,
The Father and the Son and the Spirit send the church into the world.
Moltmann, however, reverses the order; he emphasizes the significance of the role of the Holy Spirit in doing mission. He believes that the Holy Spirit is the source of life and the giver of life. Thus he says that, “God’s mission is nothing less than the sending of the Holy Spirit from the Father through the Son into this world, so that this world should not perish but live.”
Only through the knowledge that Christian mission follows this sending principle that mission can be done correctly. This will prevent Western missionaries to dominate other people by their religion. I emphasize Western because we, missionaries from the Third Word, could not and would not in any way dominate our target people, we just don’t have the weight to do it.
It seems that many missionaries are on the field for the reputation of their mission board. They want the mission board to look better. They are indifferent to the situation of the people, they are bent to accomplish what they want to do with disregards to the people they supposed to be ministering. Some missionaries are not sacrificing enough. They still live in a mansion and isolate themselves with the people. They are not determined to adopt the host culture and they are keen on living just like they do it at home. Yes, they are doing some missions work but they have not been the agent of the Holy Spirit in sharing life to others. As long as they accomplishing something… they feel good about it.
Moltmann would say that it is not right to spread Christian values or civilization to these people who have been suffering enough, who have been around death. Here people are suffering from human rights violation, injustice, exploitation and discrimination.
Missionaries should always remember that missions originate from the heart of God. We have to get out of the structure of religion to the