| September 2006
Theological Education for Ministry with City-Regions
By Randy White
6. Racial Reconciliation and Solidarity. Finally, leaders at all levels must develop an informed view of how ethnic identity and racism operate in urban contexts. The new global city is comprised of cities within cities, defined by ethnicity and class. Every major city now contains some of the unreached peoples groups of the world. Urban leaders must understand a biblical theology of reconciliation and solidarity with the victims of class or racial hatred, as well as develop a mature commitment to anti-racism and a confronting of the systems that perpetuate this sin. The Church must preach a holistic gospel that overcomes racial division. The urban Church must stop perpetuating these divisions and the urban leader must be willing to help the Church reject silence or the status quo in these matters. There is a rich biblical tradition into which the urban minister can tap. In Acts 6 justice and reconciliation was achieved between Hellenistic widows and the new community. In Acts 15 at the Jerusalem Council, reconciliation with Gentile Christians was inculcated in Christian belief. And Paul and Barnabas (both Jews) were intentionally sent to the Gentile city of Antioch, where they had a transformational influence.
Corresponding action: Some groups use personal testimonies by minority voices or the firsthand stories of the oppressed to engage the non-poor. Others sponsor inter-church gatherings that cross ethnic or class lines. Others have sponsored ethnic specific celebrations, and still others have participated in demonstrations or civil disobedience on behalf of the marginalized.
Redemption and Transformation
The challenges of cities worldwide are dramatic. Civic infrastructures are stretched beyond capacity by the influx of migrants. There are now more than one billion slum dwellers worldwide. Most residents of cities in the developing world lack sanitary sewage disposal; nearly half have no adequate supply of clean water to drink. Yet cities in general, and even the urban poor themselves, have assets that can be leveraged for their transformation.
In this next decade there will be over twenty cities in the world with populations of more than ten million. The greatest opportunity facing the Church will be to train the rank and file to exercise the redemptive presence and transformational influence among the people and the systems of the city that the scriptures call them to, and to speak in word and deed the life-changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
(This article was written in collaboration with Dr. Atul Aghmkar of India, Dr. Cameron Airhart of the United States, Rev. John Bond of Australia and Dr. Abel Njeraerou of the Republic of Central Africa.)
Dr. Randy White is the USA national coordinator of Urban Projects for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He holds a doctorate of ministry from Bakke Graduate University.