(World Council of Churches Conference on Word Mission and Evangelism in Arusha, Tanzania, 2018)
I greet you in the name of the one who has called us to the life of discipleship!
Animating the Arusha Call
Some persons who are reading this reflection would have been present at the gathering of some 1000 persons which took place in Arusha, Tanzania, from March 18 to 20, 2018. The participants were drawn from persons engaged in mission and evangelism representing many Christian denominations from across the world.
Some of you may not have been there physically and some may not have heard about the conference at all. It is therefore my pleasure to spend a few minutes reflecting on a small aspect of the Arusha Call (the full document is to be found at https://www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/the-arusha-call-to-discipleship). The link to the Arusha Call has been provided so that you may either begin or continue to study and live out the call in your journey of discipleship.
We who have been with Christ have elected to be disciples. We have been called into a life that is both a ‘gift and a calling.’ We now have an active role to play in changing the world; in transforming the world. We no longer have an option to stand by as idle, helpless, hapless onlookers on the sidelines. The Arusha Call tells us in part that “We are called to follow the way of the cross, which challenges elitism, privilege and personal and structural power.”
“Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. “ (Luke 9:23)
Jesus spoke to ‘them all.’ Jesus spoke and speaks to us. We are disciples once we accept the call to discipleship. Attending the conference gave me the opportunity to consider discipleship more deeply and my own place in this company. I looked again at the meaning of We. I am called; we are called. Defining We, Merriam Webster notes: “I and the rest of a group that includes me: you and I : you and I and another or others : I and another or others not including you —used as pronoun of the first person plural.”
We are composed of a collection of us. I am called upon to isolate and to own my call to discipleship and then further to commit my life in total surrender to Christ and even further to become an active part of the movement of discipleship. This thought makes me a little dizzy but I know that Christ has called me; has called me to a major task of challenging many ills so that others may have a taste of the fullness of life for which Christ came. In a similar vein Christ calls all disciples.
Being a disciple is by definition to be a follower of Christ. Christ left us in no doubt that to follow Him calls us into the work of mission and evangelism. As odd as this may sound to some, we who are disciples are duty bound to align our full life and work to mission and evangelism. This claim has a ring of idealism to it, yet it is or calling.
May you, may we all surrender to the call.
Jennifer P Martin
Education in Mission Secretary
Caribbean and North America council formation