As part of my preparation for attending Cape Town 2010 I’ve been reading the advance papers. The latest is Hope for the Christian Church through Global Incarnational Partnerships by Martine Audéoud and Rubin Pohor. Below are a few highlights and then my comments.
They start by introducing the biblical principles for global partnership which focussed on the examples of Adam and Eve, the descendants of Abraham and the Church. They write how:
… a major component of these partnerships should be complete, unconditional trust and intimacy in relationships … but the primary motivation for global partnerships will be a heart filled with God’s Trinitarian love towards another expression of Christ’s Body.
The paper then goes on to highlight some contemporary examples of global partnership showing how ” ‘global’ can also mean ‘historically global’.” Using the example of Gospel for Asia who focus on “training local Indian and Asian Christians to become missionaries on their own continent.” This incarnational approach to evangelism reminded me of the work of Hudson Taylor and his focus on British missionaries integrating into Chinese culture through language, clothing and custom and focussing on the development of home-grown missionaries to reach their friends and communities. Certainly my experience in youth ministry is that young people are much better placed to reach their own friends than I or my other leaders are.
The last section looks to the assets and challenges for the development of global partnerships. Two big focuses jumped out at me:
- There is a large focus on the use of the internet for global partnerships but Martine Audéoud and Rubin Pohor highlight that only 26.6% of the world has internet access and that:
The areas where the Church is exploding are those that have the least access to cyberspace, i.e. Latin America, Asia and Africa. Therefore, how can we, in an honest and fair way, talk about global partnerships when the areas where Christianity is exploding are those that are the least covered by cyberspace access? How can and will the global church deal with this divide?
- Are church leaders from developed countries willing to give up their power and view the intellectual and spiritual assets of their developing countries counterparts as more important than the material resources that are available? I don’t just see this as in issue in the context of global partnership but we also need to bear this in mind in our national and local settings.