Sunday, May 22, 2005

El Efecto Mariposa

El Efecto Mariposa (the Butterfly Effect): The Church in the Midst of Crisis, was the theme of the conference I attended in the DR. 300 hundred pastors and church leaders from the DR and from around Central America met at a Catholic retreat center to learn more about mision integral (wholistic ministry). We were given the scientific example of how a mass of butterflies in Brazil fluttering their wings, can cause such a change in the wind patterns that it can either initiate or help redirect a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico off the shores of Texas.

All week, we we're challenged to think and pray about how to change the direction of the winds of social and spiritual oppression that the church is facing in Latin America. We dialogued about how to take action (although it may seem insignificant) in cooperation with the larger body of Christ, in such a way that society would be transformed by the power of God.

Jim Wallis makes the observation in his new book, God's Politics (not for the faint of heart) that politicians normally wet their finger and put it up in the air to see what direction the wind is blowing as their preferred method for determining policy and direction. In contrast, the church must set its sights on the mandates of Scripture and then prophetically point believers and society to embrace justice for all, in every sphere of life.

I was so impressed by the passionate commitment of the leaders I met in the DR to be more concerned about being signposts that point to the presence of the God's Kingdom, than about church growth and individual prosperity for the individual believer (how God can and should bless us if we are right with Him).

Instead of seeking the secrets to ministry success, I sensed these men and women were asking a totally different question: What do we need to do together as the body of Christ to change the winds of suffering, poverty, oppression, corruption, and spiritual darkness that confront our part of the world.

I was very humbled to be given the opportunity to address the group, and to share some of reflections about mestizaje and the Galilean Jesus that identifies fully with the poor and the oppressed. It was an amazing time with some amazing people, and I am convinced that what happened in the DR will impact my work and ministry throughout the USA...El efecto mariopsa!


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