Multiplex: God’s Global Urban Mission – Solutions – Raineer Chu – Cape Town 2010

>>Good afternoon to everyone. (speaks Xhosa)
That’s Xhosa for ‘My name is Rain’, I’m a tax lawyer, I slept last night at
Crossroads, near Nyanga. A lot of people prevented me from going, but I survived and I looked
around the first day for people representing the urban poor in Cape Town and very difficult
to find. I haven’t found any. I hope we meet somewhere, wherever you are. I think
90% of the people in church are from the urban poor and they should be vastly represented
in this Congress and I’m very sad that is not. I have one concern, which is that we need
to claim the cities for God. We have to ask ourselves what kind of cities are we building
for God, cities we are building for our children in the future. Three things are happening
in the world today. Globalization, urbanization and marginalization. Globalization you already
know very well. Urbanization means that most of the people
are now living in cities. And most of these people coming to the cities will be living
in the slums, which makes these urban poor ministry the cutting edge ministry of the
world today. Now, cities are no longer defined by the traditional labels of modern, postmodern,
probably in some major cities like New York you’ll find millions of people there who
are not English-speaking and they come from the mountains of China, they’re animist,
they are not modern or postmodern at all. We have a very different set of labels now. Marginalization is another trend, which is
that as the rich get richer, the poor also get poorer. Cape Town, South Africa used to
hold the number one place for having the widest gap between rich and poor. Now China has gotten
the trophy. What are cities? Cities are places to hide,
places of freedom, places for social mobility, Dalits, OBCs in Chennai or Hyderabad find
a place of safety where they can climb up the social ladder, intermarry without being
persecuted and without being discriminated. Also cities are places where people are open
to the Gospel. What are ideal cities? Ideal cities – an expert
one time in a public lecture in Hong Kong said ideal cities are cities with great centers
of learning, universities, NYT and centers of art, culture, music, dance. A lot of money
and a lot of peace and order and the fifth one, which is strange and shocking to some,
is a great tolerance, tolerance for especially homosexuals and gays, which is why Singapore
doesn’t come under great cities. Two builders of cities: pyramid builders and
relationship builders. I have no other label, forgive me, but I have used other labels before
and was promptly persecuted, maybe assassinated. Pyramid builders are people who build cities
but they build pyramids. Relationship builders are not pyramid builders as you will soon
see the distinction. Relationship builders create connections,
intimacy, but they’re poor businessmen and they fall behind vastly from the pyramid builders.
The pyramid builders are very few but they own most of the wealth in the world. Now as
you know a pyramid has very little room at the top. Only one space there for the Pharaoh,
his family, his concubines, his consort and of course his attorney. And below in the pyramid
are three million slaves. It takes three million slaves to build a pyramid over a long period
of time. Today we have remnants of pyramids. Of course, we don’t mention the pyramids
of the Aztecs, the Incas and the Mayans, which are faded, but today we have a remnant of
the pyramid in India. The caste system which acquires 250 million slaves. Unknown to many of us the world runs on the
same principle of the pyramid. Factories are moved to China or Bangladesh for cheap labor
to support the lifestyle of a few in the west, in the affluent countries and guarded very
well, very seriously by border guards. My brother was once a border guard in the U.S./Mexico
border and his friend used to take pot shots at the immigrants crossing the border illegally
and visa requirements, very stringent visa requirements. Now only the wealthiest and
the top 10%, my son got an invitation to go to one of the universities in the west. Only
those people can enter into the elite circle and then eventually they’re turned into
pyramid builders and from the 10% those who won’t become pyramid builders, the sensitive
people, the relationship people, the brokenhearted, they end up in the line of homeless hobos
in Seattle and Oregon and the people who are gentle-hearted but cannot survive the rat
race in the affluent west. Pyramid builders are leading in mission. They’re
planting churches, they’re sharing the Gospel, but all the while they’re building pyramids.
This is a warning for us. We are not going to do urban mission, inadvertently be promoting
pyramids. I hope we don’t make the mistake after we leave this room. They all promise to help the poor but of course
it’s impossible because there is only very few rooms on the top. Most of the three billion
will be at the bottom of the pyramid slaving it out. Most of my countrymen are in places
like Saudi Arabia earning $150 a month and working like slaves, not seeing their families
for a year, and they have to do that because we have no jobs in the Philippines. Now, pyramid builders plant churches that
eventually die and fragment. Christianity today, probably not that many years ago, churches
die after 10 years, and divide after 20 years violently or litigation because they’re
individualistic, independent and anti-community. They’re impersonal as Yamamori mentioned
yesterday. Nothing personal. They invite you in for instruction of Jesus
Christ and the Gospel. Pyramid builders are conquest-oriented. They like big numbers and
they’re also (?). They’ll reduce the Gospel to its barest minimum to accept Jesus Christ
as Lord and Savior and end there because after that you would have to enter their home and
share their food. Now, they don’t really care about the poor, the migrants, the poor
migrants in their cities are appendix to give them more credibility. I was in a conference of evangelists in Paris
and another time in London, same thing, a conference of evangelists and then in a city
here in Africa. All the white evangelists were telling me how hard it was to evangelize
Paris or London. But then if you go out of the convention after the meeting, you walk
a couple of blocks you find this church overcrowded with people but they aren’t white, they’re
black, they’re immigrants and they’re Dalits. Maybe we should have a part in our
missiology, the theology of the God of the migrant because this is essential theme in
urban mission. God is the God of migrants and I’ve told
my friend in Seattle please do not try to evict those illegal migrants, including my
brother, from the United States because you were once migrants yourselves. We need to
embrace them and not to expel them. Salvation is more than just receiving Jesus
Christ. Actually salvation means you are saving to Jesus Christ but you are also saving to
a family, the body of Jesus Christ and we need to operationalize the meaning of this
body that we become a family. We’re brothers and sisters and we share our food, we share
our bed. It is not, you know, keeping you at a distance. It is very personal. The pyramid builders, they plant churches
and the center of their worship is the sermon and the goal of the Sunday worship is to learn.
Is very partitioned and the other people, the other tradition, the center of worship
is the Eucharist and the goal of worship or church or Sunday is to be able to connect
with the presence of Jesus Christ, vastly different. Now, “The Emerging Churches,” there is
a book published in Fuller is very interesting. Here is a description of many churches that
are emerging that have reacted against the path. They don’t want any more programs,
big budgets, buildings, hired pastors. They want intimacy, small groups, spontaneous activities,
etc. It is very sad because I think they’ve almost thrown the baby away with the bath
water. We need the pyramid builders, but we also need them to work together with the relationship
builders. But alone the pyramid builders, they will lead us into a lot of fragmentation,
isolation and death. We need both the partition people to give us our laptops and Internet
but we need also community and intimacy but often the relationship builder fall behind.
They think they’re not important and they have depression. Pyramid builders can give us progress and
we need them but in the book Emerging Churches, you will notice that it is reacting to the
path and a reactionary way of dealing with issues is a dialectical dilemma. You’ll
always be going around in a circle never able to obtain the balance. Thomas Merton had to
leave the USA to go to Japan, to go to Bangkok to obtain this balance. The ying and yang
of Asia may be our Savior allow us to find a balance. Merton finally concluded by saying
that true spirituality is found in the complementary of opposites but the partition doesn’t like
the tension of contradiction. Contradiction exists a lot among the poor.
The poor worship a powerful God and the next day bulldozers would come and evict them.
They worship a God who provides and then they go home hungry. They worship a God who is
kind and they watch their son die slowly because they cannot buy the medicine. This is the
contradiction among the poor that the partition mind cannot embrace. The pyramid builders read scripture from the
top to the bottom. They think the story about the widow’s mite is about the rich giving
more. Actually, sad to say it’s not about that. It’s about God being able to see the
poor giving a little but 100%. And the rich may give a million dollars but it is just
less than 1%. Reading from the bottom up is what the relationship
builders do when they build in the cities. The pyramid builders reading scripture from
the top to the bottom think that the problem in the world is poverty. But poverty is not
the problem. God says the poor are blessed. Instead Jesus said the problem is the rich.
There is always a burden with too much money. We have a lot of people come to my house who
are poor and I have a path in my house, I am always afraid I’m always anxious, I perspire,
I’m not comfortable with them because I know in the end they’ll take my money away
but I have so many of them that have no path in the house I’m perfectly happy with them.
There is so much burden with money. The problem is not poverty, the problem is
greed. If you say the problem is poverty, you put the pressure on the poor. If you say
the problem is greed, you put it where God puts it, where the Bible puts it. The pyramid builders will tell you that the
poor needs us. Well, the opposite is true. 1 John 3:17 proves that. It says if any one
of you has a surplus of the world’s goods and finds a brother, a Christian brother,
a member of your church, a brother in need and you do not provide for him, that’s the
love of Christ abide in you. It is not a question of salvation, it is a
question of spirituality. Our spirituality is only authenticated by the way we treat
the poor. In other words, we need the poor. The poor do not need us. A Tibetan monk once
wrote, referring to the pyramid builder said these people have mastered the art of selling
fantasies and illusions. This is the tragedy that the majority of the church, the relationship
builders, very insecure people are enamored by the success of the pyramid builders. I
would be, they have big convention halls, nice hotels, lots of money and a yacht. I
would be enamored by it, but it is a seduction. The pyramid builders can’t offer us anything
except buildings. We need relationship. We need to be working together side-by-side. There are only two mentions of church in scripture,
in the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In Matthew 16 talks about the church’s strong
army and Matthew 8:18 the church is a strong family. We need both of them. Now, we also need to operationalize things.
I’m not talking about application. I’m talking about operationalization. Great authors
may talk about church and fellowship, etc. but remember the concentration guards, the
Nazis who killed millions of Jew, they were Christians. They went to church every Sunday.
Wilberforce was wrong, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, because by legislation
the church was able to escape the duty to take care of the poor and they let out slaves
who for centuries were dependent on their masters were now left alone, abandoned to
the mercy of the state. It is the church’s duty to take care of them. It is not the state’s
duty. By doing so we have lost our responsibility for our poor brothers and sisters. The American Constitution talks about people
being created equal but it has never been equal. It only applied to the white landed
gentry. Not even including the white women. It was only in the late 60s that the Blacks
got their independence. They became equal through brutalization, imprisonment and death.
We’re not talking about contextualization, we’re talking about operationalizing concepts.
When we contextualize we’re simply doing hypermarketing to make us more credible, to
make us more effective pyramid builders. Brothers and sisters, most of the church will
be from the poor especially the urban poor. I beg you, I ask you, I request you, I pray
to you that you would make it central in your mission. Thank you.

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