10 October 2011

Five Marks of Mission

"Mission is, quite simply, the participation of Christians in the liberating mission of Jesus, wagering on a future that verifiable experience seems to belie. It is the good news of God's love, incarnated in the witness of a community, for the sake of the world." --David Bosch

For the Anglican Communion, God's mission is holistic, concerned for all human beings and the totality of a human person: body, mind, and spirit. It is concerned for the totality of God's creation. This holistic understanding of mission is expressed in the Five Marks of Mission:

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To seek to transform unjust structures of society
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

These 'marks' are by no means comprehensive but rather serve as a guide to help churches (and people!) within the Communion to live out the missio dei of reconciliation in a variety of ways.

So how does my work at the Mission and Bethune House go along with the Five Marks?

The primary work is in responding to human need by loving service and seeking to transform unjust structures of society. 

When someone comes to us with a need, whatever it may be, we strive to do our best to meet it with loving service. We counsel on a variety of issues, personal and work-related, and sometimes people come simply for fellowship. The Bethune House provides shelter, food, and counseling services to women in distress. The women there share their pains and triumphs, woes and joys. It is a community of loving service to one another. Sometimes a woman will come to us after she has been terminated, and we offer her a shoulder and an ear--and a sandwich too, if she is hungry. The ministry of presence, of just being with someone through her distress, is a vital part of responding to human needs. I may not always know the right words to say (in the right language) but my presence can still offer comfort. 

Political and social situations in their home countries cause college educated women and men to leave their families so that they can provide food, clothing, and educational opportunities for their children and dependents. The agencies that they go through to find work charge them fees and interest, portions of their wages, and some end up losing family farms or other property just so they can pay their fees. Host countries often have very exclusive immigration policies and strict or unregulated working conditions for migrant workers. These unjust structures are what we seek to transform when we unite for a rally at the consulate or attend court hearings with migrants. We sign petitions in solidarity with workers from other countries to help their situations improve. We must be relentless, tireless, always striving for equality. Domestic work is work and those workers should enjoy similar benefits as others--set working hours, minimum wage, a period of at least 24 hours rest.  The United Nations International Labour Organization recently adopted a historic set of international standards aimed at improving the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide. The Mission helps to disseminate information about these new standards so that workers can lobby for their countries to ratify them. Educating workers about their rights and standing with them to fight for better working conditions are just a few examples of how the Mission strives to improve the conditions of domestic workers and the unjust systems that exploit them.

As to the last three-- to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; to teach, baptize and nurture new believers; and to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth... I pray that my actions speak louder than any words that may tumble from my lips, and that God's reconciling love be evident in all I say and do. I am a missionary, and I participate in reconciliation; in the bringing about of the Kingdom of Heaven, here and now. And that is Good News. As for the one about creation.. well, I live in a big city and I try to do my part. I take public transportation or walk when I can, and I try to take time to enjoy the green spaces throughout Hong Kong. A few weeks ago the Mission participated in a joint protest against a proposed naval base on Jeju Island in South Korea. Currently designated as the Island of Peace and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the naval base would endanger its natural beauty and the local people do not want it there. But, because of its strategic location, it is "ideal" for navy forces. We went to the Korean Consulate with a signed petition and someone read a statement. It was all very peaceful.

I invite your responses/thoughts/comments/questions/ideas/ramblings/rants. As always!

Grace and Peace,

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