“In the midst of agony, despair, and cries of life in this pandemic-stricken world, it is our mission as transforming disciples is to seek alternative values, ways of life, and communities, to reveal shalom in God’s kingdom on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit” says Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, the General Secretary of the Council for World Mission (CWM).
In his keynote at 15th Assembly of the International Association for Mission Studies (IAMS) on 8 July 2022 in Sydney, Australia, Dr Keum, called on the missiologists and theologians all over the world to embrace the transforming discipleship as a radical proposal to live out the mission concepts of shalom and sangsaeng in the current global context.
Speaking about today’s context of the world, he highlighted that the Covid-19 is not only a medical disaster but also a human-made social, political, economic and ecological disaster that resulted in the deaths of countless lives. Reflecting on the prevalent systemic greed, sharp economic disparities, environmental destruction, war economies, supremacist ideologies, and exploitation of vulnerable people, he expressed his grave concern that only the fittest are privileged for survival in this world of moral decadence. Raising some pertinent questions on the nature of God’s mission, discipleship in today’s context, he called upon the mission theologians and scholars to place justice, equality, and liberation at the heart of Christian mission, and apply the concepts of shalom and sangsaeng as a way of transforming discipleship in the midst of a wounded creation and humanity.
Expounding on the biblical concept of shalom and Asian concept of sangsaeng, in relation to the African concept of Ubuntu, Dr Keum hoped that these biblical, Asian, and African concepts of life could provide an alternative way of theological exploration. Highlighting the importance of human beings’ co-existence with the nature and all the creatures in it, he said, “In a world where bats cannot live, humanity cannot survive too! Therefore, bats and humanity are in the relationship of sangsaeng, living together.” He further said that to live out such concepts of life, we need to embrace the transforming discipleship and put a theology of cross into practice.
Dr Keum concluded his keynote by emphasizing that despite all the challenges and vulnerabilities, we can still strut in God of mission who empowers and gives us life in its fullness. Therefore, our mission as transforming disciples is to proclaim the hope of shalom.
The participants IAMS Assembly have thanked Dr Keum for his profound keynote speech with prophetic voice as well as deep missiological vision and articulation. Prof. Bokyoung Park, Vice-President, who chaired the session, expressed her deepest gratitude for the profound keynote on behalf of IAMS. Inaugurated in Driebergen, The Netherlands, in 1972, IAMS meets once every four years for its General Assembly bringing together hundreds of scholars as the global academic society of missiology from various countries, denominations and disciplines to share the outcomes of missiological researches and to discern God’s mission in the context of contemporary challenges. This year, despite the pandemic and its’ challenges in travelling, over 100 participants gathered together in person, while many others have joined the sessions online.
Under the leadership of Rev. Dr Paul Kollman, the President of IAMS and the team, the sessions will continue until 11 July 2022 at Morling College, Sydney on the theme, “Powers, Inequalities and Vulnerabilities: Mission in a Wounded World.”