Holistic Mission of Christ and the Development Paradigm by Bro. Patrick Ansah

Holistic Mission of Christ and the Development Paradigm
This article completes our discussions on the Holistic Mission of Christ. In the December 2013 issue of the Joint News we had the opportunity to discuss the holistic mission of Christ and came up with the framework to undertake such mission in the April 2014 edition. In this issue I would want us to look at how the mission correlates with our modern-day development concepts and ideologies which will then go on to define our role as Christians in the development of our economies.

But before we delve into the main topic of development, it is appropriate to briefly re-cap the holism of Christ's mission for the benefit of those reading this series in the Joint News for the first time.

Recap- Holistic Mission
The integration of evangelism, social action, and transformation and the kingdom of God as well as restoration and conservation are together referred to as holistic mission. Holistic mission is also about Christ and his message of life, deed, word, and signs.

Evangelism: mission as word is teaching, preaching and proclamation of the gospel. The word gospel means message or good news hence, evangelism is to announce the news of a person, which is our Lord Jesus Christ. Telling and inviting people to experience the salvation which was attained once, and for all humankind, by the perfect sacrifice so that we are now reconciled with God. (Christ directed the healed, demonized man to return home and declare how much God has done for him in Luke 8: 39, the Samaritan woman in John 4:28&39, The Great Commission in Mathew 28:16-20 and Mark: 16:15)

Social Action: Mission as deed means working for the physical, social, and psychological well-being of humankind. Apart from the provision of the physical needs of the society, the community of Christ are also called to work strongly for just and peaceful relationships, helping the poor and correcting injustice in the society, as well as working to enlarge people's access to economic and political power. All these social activities of the church are what constitute social action. (Jesus heals a demon possessed man; Luke 8:26-36; Jesus heals a woman who touched the fringe of his garment and Jairus daughter; Luke 8: 40-56; Jesus delivers and sets the adulterous woman free; John 8:1-11; Jesus feeds the five thousand and four thousand respectively in Mark 6:30-44 & 8:1-10)

Transformation and the Kingdom of God. Transformation is first and foremost a calling to be with Jesus; life in and with Christ, (Mathew 10:1a - “And He called to Him his twelve disciples”). Renewed relationship with Christ and fellow humankind. Rediscovering our true identity as human beings, created in the image of God, who is in Christ Jesus, with gifts, talents and creativity, of which we are to put to work, to build our societies and communities, towards God's Vision of Society - The Kingdom of God (Colossians Col 3:8 -15).

Conservation and Restoration: Genesis 1:1 affirms that God is the universal landowner, granting to humankind the rich and fertile land, earth, to be managed within the original community established by God. Disobedience on our part in adhering to the grant conditions and regulation given by God, culminated in the expulsion from the land by the landowner, which led to broken relationships and communities. As the representatives of the Landowner, the church must be at the forefront of the campaign to reinstitute the regulations of God. The campaign should be in the form of advocacy, as well as be institutionalised to reflect in the policies, programmes and activities of the Church.

(The ideology of the land as a grant gives the right of the Giver to sign a conditional treaty with the receiver in its usage. Humankind is mandated to care for and exercise control over the land (Gen 2:15-17). In Lev 25:1-7 the law regarding the sabbatical year is one of those regulations in which God gives fertile land for six years to work on and in the seventh year it must leave the land to fallow. The most significant regulation given by God is the pollution of the land in Num. 35:33-34. We are not to pollute the land by spilling of blood (i.e. murder, related to the fratricide by Cain, Gen. 4:10-16) and also pollution by defilement. The land must be kept holy because our God who is Holy dwells amidst humankind in the land He gave us (Num 35:34).

Having now refreshed our minds on what entails the holistic mission of Christ, we will now look at our main subject matter in this issue of the Joint News, Current Developmental Concepts.

The Development Paradigm
Here we want to look at development from the perspective of both the Christian faith-based organisations (CFBOs) and that of secular organisations such as the World Bank (WB), United Nations (UN) and International Monetary Fund (IMF). We will also look at what is termed sustainable development and briefly into various developmental ideologies from leading economists and development practitioners in the world.

In contemporary times, there had been three major strategic approaches to development in this globalised world, which are all targeted at meeting the social and physical needs of society. The first to mention is Human Rights-Based Approach to Development (HRAD) led by the UN agencies. This strategy focuses on poverty reduction based on the eight Millennium Development Goals relating to poverty and hunger, education, gender, children, maternal health, disease, environmental sustainability and global partnership. The other secular approach to development is the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) of the IMF and the WB. This approach is geared towards macro-economic stabilization, privatisation and liberalization and policy-based lending such as good governance conditionality. The third approach which is mostly at the community level is practice by CFBOs, such as Food for the Hungry, World Relief and World Vision. Before then the CFBOs tackled development from a Needs-Based Development Approach (NBDA), but currently they have adopted a newer approach described as Potential Based Development Approach (PBDA). This seeks to identify, plan, release and unleash potentials in whatever form they may exist within the community, to be utilized to address their needs.

Sustainable Development
The Bruntland Report defined the concept of sustainable development as, 'development that fulfils the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to fulfil their own needs'. The aim of the concept is to define viable schemes combining the economic, social, and environmental aspects of human activity.

Economically, 'development is seen as a transformation of a society that durably and cumulatively paves the way for growth in average income, satisfies fundamental needs, reduces poverty, and improves human capacities'.

Socially sustainable development looks at and tries to create awareness on how, in the pursuit of economic growth, 'one generation can make a sacrifice in the interest of future generations or, on the contrary, waste resources that are available in limited quantity'. The concept aims at allowing the basic needs of present and future generations to be fulfilled with regard to demographic constraints such as access to water, education, health, employment, and the fight against hunger or malnutrition.

Environmentally there should be the consideration that in the course of economic growth, increase in production will not damage the environment by way of water and air pollution, degradation of the forest and increased noise levels, economic growth that threatens wild life and the ecosystem. Sustainable development aims at allowing the planet's resources and condition to be protected for future generations and natural assets to be shared.

The ultimate goal of sustainable development is to find a coherent and long-lasting balance between these three aspects of human activities. The Brundtland Report therefore, prescribed seven strategic imperatives to be considered. These are:

1. Reviving and maintaining growth
2. Changing the quality of growth
3. Meeting essential needs for jobs, food, energy, water, and sanitation
4. Ensuring a sustainable level of population
5. Conserving and enhancing the resource base
6. Reorienting technology and managing risk
7. Merging environmental and economic concerns in decision making.

Development Ideologies
The first to look at is the definition of development by David Korten. Korten looked at development as 'people - centred' in contrast to economic-centred development. He defined development as “a process by which the members of a society increase their personal and institutional capacities to mobilise and manage resources, to produce sustainable and justly distributed improvements in their quality of life, consistent with their own aspirations”. From the definition, he looked at development as a continuous process which should be driven by sustainability, justice and inclusiveness.

The second to consider is the definition put forward by John Friedmann, who looked at development as, 'expanding access to social power'. Friedmann defined development as “a process that seeks the empowerment of the households and their individual members through their involvement in socially and politically relevant actions.” He noted that the empowerment should include an emphasis on local decision making, local self-reliance, participatory democracy and social learning. He put forward eight bases for increasing social power. These are Social networks, Information for self-development, Surplus time, and Investments of work and livelihood. The rest are Social organisations, Knowledge and skills, defensible life space and financial resources. By expanding the frontiers of these eight social bases, households and communities are deemed to be on the path of development by expanding their social power.

The third explanation of development to be discussed is that of Robert Chambers whose viewpoint is that, the objective of development is 'responsible well-being for all'. He noted that development thinking is now about people and capacities and not about things and infrastructures. Chambers presented a systems approach with four interactive indices, whose interactive framework point development towards what he calls 'responsible well-being'. These interactive indices are livelihood security, capabilities, equity and sustainability. It is only by effective interactions between these four indices that humankind will experience responsible well-being and consequently development. The phrase “responsible well-being”, also applies to the non-poor in our societies, who need to change their behaviour and behave responsibly towards the poor.

Amartya Sen's perspective will be the final to be discussed. He considered development as 'freedom and right-based development'. His assertion is that development should be more about increasing human freedom or agency, in ways that allow people to pursue those ends, that they deem important and valuable to them, and less about increasing wealth, providing technical knowledge and modernization. (Compares with Chambers; who also argues that development should be more about people and capacities instead of things and infrastructures.). Sen identified a number of instrumental freedoms that are to support the expansion and exercise of individual freedoms if communities are to be considered as developed. The first is that people need to be free to participate in the political process. People should be free to access economic facilities that will enable them to be productive and to exchange what they produce for what they need. They need social opportunities created by education and health services that make it possible to live better lives. Their social world should demonstrate openness and transparency in which there is trust. Finally, people should be free to enjoy protective security in a form of social safety net that protects them against unexpected natural disasters, as well as the protection of the rule of law.

Our responsibility as Christians
So far, looking at the Holistic Mission of Christ and the various developmental paradigms of the world, we realize that the current developmental ideologies and thinking find their roots in the ideas of the Holistic Mission of Christ; by way of Creativity, Peaceful co-existence, Caring and Sharing, Equity and Justice, Life Sustenance, Freedom, Conservation and Ecological Soundness. Development is more about relationships, people, their household and the community (affordable cost of rent, transportation, health, food and education), and less about micro- and macro-economic indices and economic growth, wealth creation, infrastructure, modernization, mining and technology.

As Christians and church leaders we were given the preliminary mandate in Matthew 29:18 (... Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you ...). Christ taught us justice, feeding the poor, defending the weak and the marginalized, communal living and sharing, peaceful co-existence and the principles and values of the Kingdom of God as in Colossians 3, as well as preservation and restoration of our natural resources by His life, Words, Deeds and Signs.

As Christians therefore, we are empowered by our Master to promote, preach, advocate and participate in developmental and conservational issues in our churches, homes, workplace, and in our communities and the country at large.

Since the development of our communities, societies and the country in general is constitutionally the responsibility of political leaders, can we say that pastors, church leaders and ministers of the gospel who were given the foremost mandate by our Lord Jesus Christ to develop our societies should not aspire for political leadership to fulfil this mandate?

Patrick Ansah is a Pharmacist by profession and holds a Masters degree in Arts, Theology and Mission (Holistic Mission and Development Option) from the Akrofi- Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture, Akropong Akuapem.