Alliance for Vulnerable Mission

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Books available on vulnerable mission (en-esp-de)   

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Introduction to AVM (Alliance for Vulnerable Mission)

The AVM (Alliance for Vulnerable Mission) seeks to encourage wider use of mission and development strategies that depend on locally available resources and local languages. These strategies are “vulnerable” in the sense that they do not have fringe benefits built into them, deliberately or otherwise. They will therefore fail unless or until there is strong local confidence in their spiritual or developmental value. The missionary or development worker will allow them to fail rather than prop them up with outside money.

“Vulnerable mission” may be seen as part of the movement toward contextualization of the Gospel of Jesus, which we regard as the theory of many and the practice of few. We would like to see more people take the risks of contextualization and vulnerability in order to reap the rewards that only come to those who value local resources and invest in local languages. If local tools seem slow or weak by comparison with foreign money and English (Spanish etc. – European language), then we say with a wise missionary of long ago, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10) While vulnerable mission may not be the only biblical approach to mission, it deserves much more attention than it has been getting. Let’s talk.

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… that there should be some missionaries from the West whose ministries are conducted in the language of the people being reached, without use of outside financial subsidy.

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Contact: jim@vulnerablemission.org

To participate in a list-serve discussion of vulnerable mission issues by email click here (if this link does not work for you, write to jim@vulnerablemission.org): PEARL To receive the monthly AVM bulletin, send an email to: jim@vulnerablemission.org For back copies of the Bulletin go to http://www.jim-mission.org.uk/avm-bulletins/index.html For a video presentation of vulnerable mission click here A series of conferences were arranged to be held in the USA and Europe in 2012 to further these aims. The conferences have now been completed. The rationale for the advocating of these policies is given in many papers collected especially at the following locations:

 Articles by various authors  

Articles by Jim Harries, chairman of the Alliance for Vulnerable Mission (in academia.edu) 

Prior editions of the monthly AVM Bulletin

 

Some of the above articles are already published in Journals including: Missiology: an international review, Exchange: Journal of Missiological and Ecumenical Research, Evangelical Review of Theology and Lausanne World Pulse. More articles are sought for publishing on the web and/or presenting at the conferences.

In brief, vulnerable mission is a means of over-coming widespread problems in mission (and development activities) in the two-thirds world, such as the creation of unhealthy dependency, neo-colonialism, the prosperity gospel, mission as secularisation, corruption and chronic under-development. These issues are avoided because by confining themselves to the use of local languages and resources missionaries ensure that their activities are appropriately contextualised. The use of local languages in ministry combined with ‘missionary poverty’ (the two key principles of AVM) enforces humility and operation on a ‘level playing field’ with local people. Once these two conditions have been given as foundation, then ‘Vulnerable Mission’ can be extremely wide in its expression and can certainly include: provision of care for the sick, faith healing, theological and other education, church planting, literacy, water projects and so on.

AVM already has partners in many churches, missions and schools including SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics), SIM (Serving in Mission), Church of God (Anderson), WEA (World Evangelical Alliance), WCIU (William Carey International University), WMA (World Mission Associates), GMI (Global Mapping International), TWR, and many more. More partnerships and affiliations are sought. Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches, groups and individuals are welcomed.

The AVM is led by a small executive board made up of Tim Reeves, (Norwich Central Baptist Church, UK), Dr. Chris Flanders, (Abilene Christian University) and Dr. Jim Harries (Chair, Missionary in Western Kenya). This is supported by an Advisory Board that includes: Alex Araujo (Partners International) and others (see below). Readers are encouraged to peruse the above websites. For a few discussions already engaged in and recorded by Jim Harries with people over vulnerable mission see:

Discussions  

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Board Members

Dr. Jim Harries, Chairman of AVM, missionary in East Africa.

Dr. Stan Nussbaum

Dr. Stan Nussbaum. Advisory board member. Staff missiologist for Global Mapping International.

Frank Paul. Advisory board member. Until recently a missionary in the Chaco in Argentina, now with the community of 'Young Christians on the Offensive' in Germany.

Frank Paul. Advisory board member. For 18 years living in Argentina – mostly with an international team of fraternal workers who are accompanying real independent indigenous churches in the Chaco area in northern Argentina. Ute and Frank Paul now belong to OJC, an intentional interdenominational community in Germany – sharing life, daily work, resources (see: www.ojc.de > english , > castellano).

Dr. Stan Nussbaum

Dr. Chris Flanders. Assistant Professor of Missions in the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. Also Director of the Halbert Institute for Missions at ACU (www.acu.edu/missions). Former missionary to Thailand for 11 years. Advisory Board Member.

Frank Paul. Until recently a missionary in the Chaco in Argentina, now with the community of 'Young Christians on the Offensive' in Germany.

Dr. Jay Gary. Advisory board Member. Peakfutures consulting, and lecturer at Regent University

Frank Paul. Until recently a missionary in the Chaco in Argentina, now with the community of 'Young Christians on the Offensive' in Germany.

Advisory board member, senior advisor to the president, united world missions, consultant for cross-cultural mission partnership. Advisory Board member.


 Timothy V Reeves, member of the Advisory Board, is also a member of Norwich Central Baptist Church one of Jim Harries’ supporting fellowships in England. When Tim saw Harries’ formula: Meaning = Text + Context, he knew he had to get involved; this was different.

Timothy V Reeves, member of the executive board, is also a member of Norwich Central Baptist Church one of Jim Harries’ supporting fellowships in England. When Jim saw Harries’ formula: Meaning = Text + Context, he knew he had to get involved; this was different.

Stan Chu Ilo is a catholic priest and Research fellow at the Center for World Catholicism and Inter-Cultural Theology at DePaul University, Chicago.

Jean Johnson, member of the advisory board, serves as an international consultant with World Mission Associates (JeanJohnson@wmausa.org), helping bring awareness and change to unhealthy dependency as a result of global mission efforts. Jean spent 16 years as a missionary in Cambodia.

Fred Lewis, executive board member, grew up in one of the suburbs of Los Angeles, CA, received a M.Div. at Denver Seminary in Colorado and then served as an associate pastor at a church in farming country near Tulsa, OK. In rural Uganda he lived and served among the Bakonjo, ministering in Swahili; in Ukraine and Russia he lived in large cities, ministering in Russian. In Pasadena, CA he was Vice President of Academic Affairs at WCIU, a ministry of the US Center for World Mission. His current ministry at WorldView in Portland, OR is occupied with teaching present and future cross-cultural workers how to learn another culture.

(The Rev. Canon Dr.) John A. Macdonald, executive board member, is the Director of the Stanway Institute for World Mission and Evangelism and Associate Professor of Mission and Evangelism and at Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge. He is also an ordained minister in the Anglican Church in North America.

(The Rev. Canon Dr.) John A. Macdonald, executive board member, is the Director of the Stanway Institute for World Mission and Evangelism and Associate Professor of Mission and Evangelism and at Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge. He is also an ordained minister in the Anglican Church in North America.

 

Jonathan Winter, member of the advisory board, based in Belfast N. Ireland currently serves as a mobiliser and cross-cultural missions trainer with Logos Ministries International, UK, Jonathan received an MA in Intercultural Studies at the Philippines Baptist Theological Seminary in Baguio City, and currently is pursing, an MA in Contemporary Missiology at Redcliffe College in Gloucestershire. Jonathan spent 13 years as a missionary in the Philippines working and still continues to be involved in teaching and training Asian missionaries for cross-cultural missions in Asia as well as working among Filipino migrant churches in the UK and across Europe.

Jonathan Winter, member of the advisory board, based in Belfast N. Ireland currently serves as a mobiliser and works for a UK based mission organisation. Jonathan received an MA in Intercultural Studies at the Philippines Baptist Theological Seminary in Baguio City, and currently is pursing, an MA in Contemporary Missiology at Redcliffe College in Gloucestershire. Jonathan spent 13 years as a missionary in the Philippines working and still continues to be involved in teaching and training Asian missionaries for cross-cultural missions in Asia as well as working among Filipino migrant churches in the UK and across Europe.

 

Video recordings of Day workshop on vulnerable mission, How to do Partnerships Better, Pasadena, California, 24th September 2013 (watching these four videos would be an excellent way to give a group a dynamic introduction to vulnerable mission, and to how to do partnerships better …)

1. Stan Nussbaum’s presentation. Vulnerable Missions – Dependency

2. Jean Johnson’s presentation. Avoiding being Source of Resources.

3. Jim Harries’s presentation. The Bugbear of International Languages.

4. Panel Discussion

 

doing partnerships better

 

How not to Push Missionaries and Development Workers backwards into Holes:
outside languages and resources verses justice in Africa:

A short biblical message in the Luo language of Western Kenya:

9 Responses to “Alliance for Vulnerable Mission”

  1. John Lindner Says:

    This is obviously a healthy attempt to rethink missions and the role of Westerners. I read the first two articles and posted my comments after each. The only way I know to get to them is to go Jim Harries’ six articles at:
    http://www.momentum-mag.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/vulnerablemission.pdf
    and then click the comment link under each. You may find them otherwise.

  2. Alex Araujo Says:

    I have read all the articles referred to and tend to agree. In fact, I have been saying similar things in various settings, though in slightly different ways. Most recently I was at the WEA Missions Commission consultation where similar thoughts were expressed in conversation with many people. Rather than creating a separate set of activities that further break us up (no one can attend all the worthy events going on), would you consider participating in existing events where these ideas can be shared with a wide range of people from many countries serious about these issues?

    Alex Araujo

  3. admin Says:

    In response to John Lindner, another way to find the articles is to go to the Momentum Magazine (www.momentum-mag.org) or for the pdf versions go to http://is.gd/6hdp.

    Thanks also for Alex’ comments. In short – yes, I would consider participating in events where these ideas can be more widely shared, and I think others in AVM will also. These AVM conferences among other things are a means to ‘get the issue onto the radar’ for folks.

    There is also an extent to which a ‘vulnerable missionary’ ought not to be constantly travelling to international conferences. The above all fall within my three-yearly furlough. I guess that is part of the debate!

    Jim Harries

  4. Joy Says:

    It would be interesting to read what the Christians in the two-third world are saying about this. A voice from the recipients would be a good voice to listen to. They have a voice, invite them in. Otherwise, its will be a one-sided monologue. Learn to listen to the one who has suffered the experimental brunt of development and mission.

    If you fail to listen to the voice from the two-third world, your labor is in vain, the mistakes will be repeated, sadly. Exclusivity in theological reflections is like a weak one legged stool, cannot hold any weight. Think about this.

  5. admin Says:

    Ubaya, pengine, VM inaamini ni vizuri Wamissionari kutoka nchi za magharibi wajaribu kuhusiana na wa dunia ya 2/3 kwa lugha yao. Na kufanya huduma kupitia mali yao. Sasa vipi?

  6. Jarkko Laine Says:

    First, I want to congratulate you for tackling these important questions. Your ideas make a lot of sense to me.

    I first heard about Vulnerable Mission from my dad this weekend. We had some interesting discussions on your thoughts and efforts during this Easter time. I feel that you are onto something, and wish all the best for your work!

    As someone not familiar with the Swahili language, though, I’d love to have the above comment translated into English… (Finnish would be even better… :)) I suppose it was an answer to the question posed by the commentator named Joy? If not, I’d also be interested in hearing what you think about that question as I’m sure it’s something you have had to think about in your mission already.

  7. admin Says:

    Hi Jarkko, Thanks for your comment on my comment!

    I had to think a great deal about the above comment from Joy. The AVM chooses to carry out ministry using the languages of the people being reached. So then, what to do if someone of such a language engages a vulnerable missionary using a Western language?

    Of course, everyone is welcome into this debate. But is there a greater level of privilege for two-thirds world people? If so, then will we be cutting off our own legs, as again important debate will happen in English, and whatever happens in African language will only be that which remains for those who are uneducated and so not able to understand English.

    Of course non-Westerners have insights that many Westerners do not have and would benefit from. But can they communicate them sufficiently helpfully in a language rooted in a context other than their own (of which they may have limited knowledge), as to earn them privileged position in missiological debate?

  8. Alex Araujo Says:

    The question of which langauge to use is very important and also a great challenge. Throughout history people have found great benefit in having trade languages, languages that for a variety of reasons emerged as familiar enough to different people groups to serve as a bridge. trade languages seem to have been particularly useful in commerce.

    Dominant societies often lend their language to the rest of the world as they spread their influence cross-culturally: Greek, Latin, Arabic, Spanish, French, English, Swahili etc.

    Of course, a trade language gives advantage to its native speakers. Yet, the alternatives are not usually very practical. If we don’t use a shared language, how else do we communicate important ideas? One model is that of the United Nations, which provides expensive simultaneous tranlations in its sessions, so that each national representative may speak in his/her national language. Yet, I suspect that in the hallways of the UN and behind closed doors, where important decisions are made, things may be different.

    English has become in our time the dominant trade language in international contexts. On the one hand, it is a useful tool; on the other it favors native English speakers.

    I have developped some suggestions for how it can be used more productively in international gatherings. These suggestions recognize its limitations as well as its advantages as a trade language, and offer practical ways to minimize the problem and increase the benefit.
    If you are interested in seeing this documnt, let me know and I will gladly send a copy to you. It doesn’t resolve all the issues, but it can improve effectiveness in international meetings.

  9. admin Says:

    To participate in vulnerable mission discussions, write to jim@vulnerablemission.org

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