Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis 2, no. 1 (February 2011)

playlist_add_check Review Article

James Butare-Kiyovu, editor. International Development from a Kingdom Perspective. WCIU Press: International Development Series 2. Pasadena: William Carey International University Press, 2010. 166 pp. $9.95.

There continues to be a coming together of the two dominant paradigms in missions going back to the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in 1974. The evangelistic emphasis underlying the unreached peoples paradigm is broadening to be more inclusive of the transformational development paradigm. No longer do Evangelicals wince at ministries of justice. Today’s gospel emissaries are blending the first words of Jesus (Luke 4:18–20) with the last words of Jesus (Matt 28:18–20) as they develop their missional theology. The church is out in the community and the world in force, be it adopting an underprivileged school, cleaning up the neighborhood, planting churches, or ministering to those with HIV/AIDS.

James Butare-Kiyovu is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at William Carey International University. He has edited an eclectic book, many of whose articles have been published elsewhere. With chapters on the last two centuries of missions (Ralph Winter), missio Dei (Eddie Arthur), economic justice (David Befus and Stephan Bauman), ministry to children (Luis Bush), shalom (Beth Snodderly), a prayer guide utilizing the Millennium Development Goals (Micah Challenge), the genocide in Rwanda (Butare-Kiyovu), and more, there is something here for everybody who has an interest in holistic mission.

In a seminar in 2007, Ralph Winter wondered aloud if there should be a fourth era of missions. He had previously written about three eras between 1800 and 2000 (the article is reprinted in this book), but was now suggesting a fourth one: the Kingdom Era. It was this concept that helped influence the titling of this volume.

Of special interest to readers of this journal is Eddie Arthur’s article, “Missio Dei” (49–66). Arthur traces the development of the concept through history, beginning with Augustine but especially emphasizing the period from World War II through the present. He concludes by linking missio Dei to trinitarian mission and stating that the concept saves the church from having to choose between either social change or fundamentalism (61).

David Befus and Stephan Bauman’s selection, “Economic Justice for the Poor” (89–100), begins with the biblical foundation for justice. After considering the church’s mandate for justice, they conclude with a series of twenty action steps. The following two quotations sum up the main thrust of these steps: “We need to invest in women and children with the message of economic justice as a means of transforming the next generation” (97). “We need to promote understanding of the negative ecological impact of economic injustice” (99). These twenty steps provide an undeniable agenda for mission in our time.

In his chapter, Luis Bush makes an eloquent plea for involvement in what he calls the 4/14 window. Bush, who had earlier coined the well-known phrase “10/40 window,” says that the top priority for missions should be working with children, those who range in age from four to fourteen. He points to the overlap between poverty, illiteracy, and hunger that wreak havoc on children, many of whom live in the 10/40 window. He writes about children at risk: “Millions are at risk from poverty, but millions are also at risk from prosperity! Many children and young people today have everything to live with, but nothing to live for” (129). Children are not to be targeted just so that they may have abundant and eternal life, but because they can transform the world (137).

The most unique and practical entry is supplied by the Micah Challenge, “Prayer Stations Guide on the Millennium Development Goals” (143–54). The Challenge transforms each goal into a prayer station. At each station there is a comment on the specific goal, a hands-on activity related to the goal, prayer suggestions, and a brief Scripture passage.

The book’s weakness, in addition to the annoying misspellings in the references and the bibliographies, is its lack of progression from chapter to chapter. There seems to be no logical flow to this book. It is as if the editor could not decide whether his book should be a biblical study, an overview of development theory in missions, or a collection of random case studies.

Doug Priest

Executive Director

Christian Missionary Fellowship International

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA