Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mission As Peace-Making

NECF interviews Tan Kang San: The world has shrunk with increasing interconnectivity, but it does not seem to make it easier for missionary work in general. With rising religious tension on this side of the pluralistic world, it can be said that the resistance towards Christianity is greater. What is the role of the Malaysian Church in peacemaking?

Tan Kang San: Increasing connectivity is no longer confined to media, travel and communication, but has resulted in ‘new social conditions’ whereby distant events have local impact almost immediately. So, modern Christians feel the resistance against Christianity is ‘greater’ from this sense of immediacy and awareness of alternate responses from people of other faiths. Just as Christian persecutions in Muslim countries were reported internationally, sufferings of innocent lives in Muslim countries have caused inter-religious conflicts globally. Silent apathy and ‘minding our own business attitudes’ are becoming less of an option because this religious tension is felt within our neighborhoods.

Peacemaking is integral to the mission of the Church and the Church has much to offer in terms of fighting against injustices regardless of race and religion. We can do this nationally, so that the dissenting Malaysian Christian’s perspectives on war and conflicts are heard in local media, and eventually it will contribute to the general discussion globally. We can do this locally, whereby our prayers, relief efforts, and compassion transcend race and religion. I find Walter Wink’s Engaging the Powers quite insightful. The powers are not simply human structures or demonic in nature, but they possess an inner spirituality or corporate culture that dominates and controls. Extremism and fundamentalism seem to be the dominant players in religious conflicts while the silent majority is helpless because the enemy is not so easily identifiable.

Finally, there is also a place for intra-dialogue within the Christian Church globally, whereby Western Christians discover diverse Christian positions from Asia or Latin America on the issue of global conflicts.

* Dr. Tan Kang-San is Head of Mission Studies at Redcliffe College, UK and is the Official Spokesperson for World Evangelical Alliance on Interfaith Issues. Previously, Kang-San served with OMF International. Kang-San will be teaching a course for pastors/lay leaders on “Old Testament Theology for Christian Ministry and Mission” at Bible College Malaysia from Aug 5 to Aug 10. For further details, contact Registrar at:

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