Part 1: God of the Covenant
I am grateful to the URM moderator, Bishop Bob Longid and URM executive
secretary, Rev. Kwon Ho Kyung for inviting me to this consultation and to lead you in
This is, however, not a bible study but a joint reflection. It is
important that all of us reflect on the word of God as he reveals himself in our
involvement with Asias suffering people. The insights that we will collectively
share will be more valid than if we depended on the wisdom of one person.
Mission will be an important concern of CCA this year. In September the
CCA will hold the Asian Mission Conference in Indonesia on the theme "Mission of God
in the context of the suffering and struggling peoples of Asia." We all hope that
this conference will help the CCA and member churches gather a new and more dynamic
perspective to mission.
We live in exciting times. I say that fully aware that many among us
and in the movements find these times discouraging. There is a general dissatisfaction
with what were considered then as new and developing political economic models in Asia.
Many of our expectations of peoples power in the past, appear overly optimistic, it
has turned out.
In my own country, I hear about stagnation and dullness. Action groups
seem unclear about their directions. They fear that they have become institutionalized.
There seems to be a lack of urgency in our work, which some explain is a result of our
becoming more realistic
and more mature. How do we re-vitalize ourselves, is a question
commonly asked nowadays. But I say it just the same, these are exciting and positive
There are many hopeful signs. In reviewing church literature and
recalling conversations with church leaders for example, I am surprised that many churches
and even governments have now adopted the agenda of justice and peace. How these concerns
are actually translated into action is another matter. But the point must be made that
there is a more visible affirmation of justice and peace concerns in the churches today.
My optimism stems from a belief that God is acting today in the context
of suffering people. We may slip and struggle within the churches, but thankfully God
moves even without us.
In our countries, there is a perceptible growth of charismatic
movements which proclaim in a louder voice, an other-wordly Evangelism. "The pie in
the sky" ministry has become more pervasive. The ecumenical movement in a sense has
failed to provide a strong alternative against the very narrow and Western- oriented
evangelism that is gaining ground in many countries today. There is not enough
articulation of mission as participation in the historical process of peoples
struggle to the churches. There is not enough theological training along this line being
done for our young ministers and pastors. We seem to be going about our work without too
Gods Mission: Honoring his Covenant with the People.
Our reflection this morning is on the book of Exodus 2-5. Gods
mission is the radical re-structuring of human relationship. When God saw and heard the
suffering of his people who were enslaved in Egypt, he initiated action: He commanded
Moses to speak in His behalf and to tell the Pharaoh "Let my people go." His
mission was to bring about the end of the master-slave relationship and the freedom and
nationhood of his people, according to his Covenant. Gods mission is radical in
nature. In Asia where millions are in bondage, URM must do likewise. We cannot be
reformists. We must radically challenge the systems of oppression and proclaim the
liberating message that the poor are Gods children.
Unfolding in History
God unfolds his presence in concrete historical situations. He was in
the midst of the suffering slaves. He was present in their struggles for freedom. He
brought the people out of the land of Egypt into the Promised Land, and freed them from
We must also recognize Gods presence in the midst of the
suffering and struggling peoples of Asia. He is revealing himself today and if we
are not involved in the real life situations of the suffering and struggling people, it is
doubtful that we will experience the power of his presence today.
Most of our preaching today in churches is about a God of the past.
Many churches seem unprepared to proclaim that God exists today and moves people to act
for their liberation. If we are not part of peoples action, then we are not part of
How God empowers people can be seen in the way he dealt with the
uncertainty and doubts of Moses. When Moses expressed his reservation, he called on Aaron
to be his mouthpiece. God commanded him to "gather the elders of Israel
together." God therefore called the "community" to action. In unity of
community, as we can see, is strength. We all have our limitations and our doubts. Yet we
are called as we are. It is up to us to respond.
The method of God is confrontational. He tells Moses to stand before
Pharaoh and deliver the demand of the people. He visited plagues on the Egyptians until
the Pharaoh was forced to give in to Gods power. Such too are the methods of
When I was an organizer in Bombay, I was told by a Bishop that our
methods were un-Christian because, they were confrontational. What does he make of the
Exodus story? The assertion of a peoples humanity is confrontational in nature. The
powerful want people to be docile and to accept brutallization. It is clear that people
cannot become fully human unless they assert their humanity and unless they stand up. This
is a spiritual empowering process which is a part of the process of liberation.
God called the leaders to assemble. This is a methodology used even
today in the mobilization of people. It is a URM method to gather and mobilize people in
order to present their demands most forcefully.
Finally God said, "I will stretch out my hand," and "I
will be with you." God expresses his firm solidarity in the struggles of the enslaved
people of Moses time and of the suffering and struggling people of Asia today.