The churches in Poland, Southern Europe, Brazil and Turkey are facing new missional opportunities that are outside/beyond our standard conception of mission. Since we are connected with them in the same mission, we can think with them, support them in this challenge.
First image: The train in Poland carries quite a number of mainly young people from the South of Europe. Are they tourists? No, they are not on a sightseeing tour. They come from the rather overbearingly called “PIGS” countries: Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. They are either already working in Poland or jobseekers in that country. For these immigrants the country is an economical refuge, even though the average wages in Poland are still far below European standard and many Polish people work in West-European countries to gain a more attractive salary.
Second image: Brazilians enter the streets by the hundreds of thousands, originally as a protest against a price raise of the bus tickets. In Turkey a multitude occupies Taksim square, not agreeing with the president’s plan to change the place into a shopping mall. The Brazilians and Turks apparently feel related: In Rio some of the protesters carry a Turkish flag, Turkish youngsters in the crowd at Taksim square tweet to the people in Rio: “You are not alone! Turkey is with you! Love from Istanbul!”
In the first image globalization takes place from despair, with people being homesick, longing for their own food and missing their relatives. In the second image globalization happens from a perspective of hope. Hope that social change can take place, that corruption can at least be lessened and power shared more equally.
Both images show challenging opportunities for the global(ized) church. Where many Christians speak about the church as being in the margin, here -and even on a global scale- the church is offered an occasion to be relevant for society: The global church telling – and showing- the Polish church that they are not alone when they work on showing hospitality to their immigrants from the Southern-European countries to make them feel at home. But also the protesters in Turkey and Brazil, even in all their excitement, need the involvement of the global church as the catalyst for real social transformation.
What ‘tweet’ do we send to our brethren in the countries concerned to make them feel connected with the global church in this opportunity to be missional and relevant?
Kees van der Wilden