Thursday, May 05, 2005

Iglesia Cristiana Comunitaria

May 10-13 I will be traveling to the Dominican Republic to speak at a gathering of pastors and leaders from the DR and a few other Latin American countries. Much of what is happening there is the result of the leadership of two amazing men & their wives. Robert Guerrero & Damaris, and Tomas & Dee have worked tirelessly to establish a 'red' or network of church leaders to promote 'mision integral' or, wholistic ministry.

With the incredible needs that exist in Latin America it make great sense that churches embrace a more wholistic approach to ministry, that is rooted in taking the entire Gospel to the entire person. By ministering to the practical/devastating needs of people, Christians are able to demonstrate a powerful witness of God's love before uttering one word. When dynamic arts, preaching and community development (which can vary from very simple to very sophisticated) are brought together in a church community to impact a local neighborhood, powerful things begin to happen.

I absolutely am convinced that I will learn so much more in the DR from the leaders there, than I will have to teach them. A theme for this conference will be, how can the church be an authentic witness in the midst of suffering and oppression. In order to speak to that reality, I will most certainly have to tap into my mestizo upbringing and experience here in the USA. My greatest fear for the church in the barrios of our nation, is that we will not be willing to enter into the suffering and rejection of so many of our Latino neighbors (not all) but instead, choose to proclaim a prosperity Gospel that seeks the blessings of God without seeking His justice as well.

Our faith cannot become our 'get out of the barrio' card, so that we can pursue the American dream without regard to where the majority of the 40 million Latinos that live in our cities exist. In the DR, I'm certain I will be pushed to recalibrate my own understanding of suffering and costly discipleship. I pray that I will have something of value to contribute. More so, I am thrilled to get the opportunity to meet my brothers and sisters in the DR that are seeking to live their lives for the advancement of God's Kingdom in that part of the world.


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