By Luke Moon (@lukemoon1)
Years ago my vision was pretty simple: Train and equip young Christians in developing nations to effectively serve in public office or civil society. As a missionary for 10 years I had trained and equipped hundreds if not thousands of young Christians for all kinds of righteous activities. Whether it was teaching inductive Bible Study to a group of young pastors in an underground seminary in China, leading teams of young evangelicals to trace the human trafficking routes through Europe, or hiring a butcher to help me demonstrate the Old Testament sacrificial system I always aimed to be practical and relevant. But politics is messy and mission agencies, often rightly, avoid training people for a vocation in politics. Even the agency I served with would talk about vocation and bringing transformation to education or Hollywood, but rarely was there talk of bringing transformation public service or civil society.
This avoidance of politics entirely understandable. Politics is wrought with divisiveness, unhealthy alignments, and countless unforeseen pitfalls. Mission agencies have found temporary safety in a handful of consensus issues like fighting human trafficking or providing clean water and mosquito nets. But what about more complicated issues like poverty, war, and marriage? Are there biblical principles for how Christians should engage politics and public service? Over the last five years I have developed a 15 hour lecture series that I think answers that very question.
While the lecture series includes a variety of topics and give special attention to relevant issues in the community, it consists of five major themes.
Theme 1. Politics is more than just Right vs. Left, Republican vs. Democrat, or Labor vs. Tory. Politics is largely about how people live together and structure their community.
Theme 2. There are a variety of political structures outlined in scripture. From self-government in the Garden of Eden to the Kingdom of Heaven as described in the book of Revelation, government has always been part of God’s plan for humanity.
Theme 3. Jesus was not an apolitical figure. A King in his own right, Jesus confronted the major political structures in Israel.
Theme 4. The Church has a long and complicated relationship with civil government. The three standout models which have emerged recently are Catholic Social Teaching, Principled Pluralism, and Anabaptist. Each model offers a unique understanding to how Christians engage public service.
Theme 5. Scripture offers a framework for human flourishing and therefore public policy advocated by Christians should seek that as well.
Since leaving full-time ministry and coming to work at the IRD, I have come to realize how important it is for Christians to understand the role of the Church in society and how it engages with the State. I am inundated daily with examples of Christians confusing social justice gimmicks with life-changing Christ-centered community transformation. Sadly, it seems much of the teaching in church that is geared towards young Christians tends to emphasize social justice that rarely leads to the heart change. My lecture series puts social justice in the right context and with the right understanding.
I have taught this seminar all around the world, but never in Africa. Last month, I received an invitation to teach this seminar in Mali. This invitation was unique because in 2008 I helped train a group of students from Mali, and since then every attempt to set-up a training event in Mali has been forced to cancel due to numerous tragic circumstances (one reason being a civil war). It is also unique in that I need to cover all my travel expenses. The recent civil war weighs heavy on the nation and I pray that the Lord with use this seminar and these young Christians to bring hope and healing to the nation of Mali.
If you would like to contribute to this project you can donate here. Please include “For Mali” in the note section of our online donation page.