Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Amazing Grace – Getting involved in social issues

A few days ago we watched the movie Amazing Grace. (And if you read this and wonder why I’ve only seen this movie now, the answer is that we are about 350 kilometres from our closest cinema – that’s 220 miles – therefore I have to wait for all good movies to be released on DVD before we can watch them.)
This movie is the story of William Wilberforce who spent the greater part of his life to have the slave trade abolished in England. It is a remarkable story. The title of the movie is due to his friendship with John Newton, himself a captain of a slave ship at one time before his conversion (and even for some years after becoming a Christian – something of which he repented later in his life.) John Newton later wrote the hymn which we today know as Amazing Grace.
As I watched the movie, I thought back about my own life. As a student and even as young pastor, I kept myself out of social issues. I was called by God to preach the gospel and not to get involved with social issues – so I believed. In those early years of my ministry I met up with a professor in theology when I enrolled for my PhD program. He was my promoter and also a colleague of Prof David Bosch and between the two of them I started to understand that, as a Christian and as a pastor, it would be impossible for me to remain impartial towards social issues. I felt more comfortable with the way in which David Bosch involved himself with these matters. My promoter had a much stronger viewpoint than Bosch and although he never admitted that he supported the armed struggle in South Africa against Apartheid, he nevertheless never spoke out against the armed struggle.
But what I learnt from this exposure was that it is impossible to call myself a Christian without also becoming involved in social issues. My promoter was the one who made me aware (as early as 1990) of the coming time-bomb of AIDS and it is mostly through his concern for mankind that I myself became interested in the problem and why we are involved in this ministry at the moment.
I’ve never considered myself as someone lobbying support for some cause. But I have come to realise that, as Christian, my responsibility towards God’s creation goes much further than standing on a pulpit and preaching about salvation. If we want to be true to God, there will come a time when we will have to dirty our hands to bring about changes in the world.
If you haven’t yet seen Amazing Grace, then you should plan to do so. It is really worthwhile viewing and something to challenge your own viewpoint on a Christian’s involvement in social issues.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007 - Posted by | Church, David Bosch, Evangelism, Grace, HIV & AIDS, Mission, Racism, Social issues, Swaziland, Theology

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