I think missions influencers resort to militaristic tropes because, when it comes to the sharing of our faith, whether local or cross-cultural, we have a motivational problem. To get more believers ‘committed’ to evangelism, ministry, and missions, influencers too easily twist Scripture to promote a militant activism, casting the ‘great unwashed’, ‘pagan’, or ‘heathen’ as ignorant slaves of our enemy (sin, the powers of darkness, and the Devil) needing to be rescued (by force, if necessary, e.g.
Dr Jay Matenga is a Māori theologian of missions practice. He leads Missions Interlink NZ, the missionary alliance of Aotearoa New Zealand, from which he is seconded for half his time to lead the World Evangelical Alliance’s Mission Commission. Prior to his 2015 appointment with Missions Interlink, Jay served for 15 years as the Director of Pioneers and 5 years before that with WEC International, sending and caring for missionaries from New Zealand. His MA studies (All Nations Christian College) investigated relationships of power within missions structures and his doctoral research (Fuller Seminary) led to his development of an Industrial and Indigenous values spectrum as a way of understanding intercultural interactions, which can provide a pathway to maturity through transformative tensions.
By Jay Mātenga
I love the way Peterson’s Message Bible renders the question and response: Joshua asks, “Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies’?” and the response was, “Neither. I’m commander of GOD’s army. I’ve just arrived.” I launched my 2023 World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission Leader’s Missions Forecast from this passage. For my January 2024 post, I’ll repeat the introduction of that essay in the hope that it encourages you to take the time to read the rest.
It should come as no surprise that Māori whakataukī or proverbs tend to be aspirational, even if they also contain a warning. After all, Māori are guided by a strongly collectivist values set. That which is treasured in this world is that which strengthens our relationship bonds—to one another, to our habitats, to the unseen spiritual world around us. There is no greater threat to collectivist values than that which would seek to separate or divide the group.
That suffering can be redemptive sounds utterly perverse in the ears of our mainstream contemporaries. Our secular reality (and too much theology) is so thoroughly drenched in (false) Epicurean hope that it is unfathomable to think that anything bad can ultimately be good, steeped as Epicureanism is in the pursuit of pleasure. We must not fall into the trap that God intends evil so that good might result. That is perverse.
By Jay Matenga
This month’s whakataukī (proverb) is: “Hē o te kotahi, hē o te katoa.” (“The mistake belongs to the collective.”). I’ve said before, I started life in Canons Creek, Porirua, Aotearoa New Zealand—a notorious neighbourhood in the 1970s, noted for its gang violence and poverty-related issues.