On 24 March, the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission on World Mission and Evangelism pre-assembly event invoked renewed thinking and commitment on evangelism, disassociated from the forces of oppression, and grounded in humility and respect for all.
The event currently taking place in Manila, Philippines is addressing the topic “Water of life: Speaking the truth in love” while debating evangelism among other themes. More than 200 participants in the event contributed to the discussions and developed a draft of the proposed WCC statement on “mission and evangelism” to be presented at the WCC upcoming 10th Assembly in Busan, Korea in 2013.
“Too often evangelism has not been done in Christ’s way with the effect that it has not been the vehicle for conveying good news, but rather bad news through being joined with forces of imperialism and the oppression of the poor and the weak by the rich and the strong,” said Ronald Wallace, Presbyterian Church in Canada, in his presentation.
“The evangelical gospel and the social gospel cannot be separated. They are two sides of the same coin,” he added.
Reflecting on the aspect of justice and peace in evangelism, and how churches can accomplish more and better evangelism, Dr Rosalee Velloso Ewell, a presenter from the World Evangelical Alliance, Birmingham said, “In the changing landscapes of our world, what we are calling for is evangelism from the belly of the beast.”
She went on to say that “this is evangelism in all the fullness and richness of its theological and biblical roots. This is evangelism that is genuinely whole, that does not divorce justice from preaching, nor peace from worship, but rather sees their fulfilment completely and perfectly in Jesus of Nazareth.”
During the sessions, reflections on evangelism, conversions, religious freedom and church witness in changing landscapes were shared by Rev N. Oluyinka Olatunbosun, Aikaterini Pekridou, Rev. Eszter Dani and Rev. Dr Richard Daulay.
Dr Rob Hay stressed in his concluding remarks the importance of contextualization of theologies for mission around the world. He also said that “We need to discern the relevance of the unchanging truth of God in the changing world in which we live. It is only by personal transforming encounter with Christ that God will affect the transformation of societies, communities and the world.”