Some things are just better said in Spanish than in English. In my Spanish Bible Romans 6:13b literally says, “Present yourselves to God as the living among the dead, and your members to God as instruments of justice.” (Emphasis added.)
“Vivos entre los muertos" or the living among the dead is a striking image of the nature of Christian witness. This image became real for me last week while I was in El Salvador visiting Seeds of a New Creation (www.casasemillas.org), a CRCNA partner organization supported by grants from CRWM and Back to God Ministries International.
El Salvador, a country the size of Massachusetts, is experiencing an average of thirteen homicides a day. These homicides are visible symptoms of a society and church deeply fractured along economic, political and religious lines. It is not just the separation between us and God that Paul refers to as the law of sin and death. It is also our separation from our neighbor.
Yet it was not “death” but “life” that I will remember from my visit to El Salvador.
Pastor Pedro is one of growing number of Christians who are presenting themselves as “instruments of justice” in a society which longs for the pardon and reconciliation that characterizes God’s justice in Jesus. Pedro ministers in an area recognized as the territory of the MS-13 gang. Pedro has been able to nurture relationships of trust with both gang members and their families.
In another part of San Salvador, Saul is planting other “seeds” of the “new creation.” Saul has training in the areas of addiction and violence. He is planting house churches which reach out to the least, the last and the lost of their neighborhoods. Saul says that his neighbors jokingly call him the pastor of the “locos” or “crazies.”
Both Pedro and Saul are among the hundreds of Salvadoran leaders who have been shaped by the training programs of Seeds of a New Creation. They come from many different denominations from Pentecostal to Baptist to Anglican. The training programs of Seeds ground leaders in a Biblical understanding of the integral mission of the church.
One of my new assignments is to help cultivate a movement of transformation networks. Seeds of a New Creation in El Salvador is one of several rich models on which we hope to build.
We imagine a movement where we share world and life views in a way which leads not only to deep transformation in other cultures but also to the renewal of our own communities and cultures. We imagine pastors, educators, business people, artists and government officials collaborating to transform local communities and the larger society consistent with the Biblical values of justice, reconciliation, and creation care.
Would you dream and pray with us? What other experiences might we share, both internationally and in North America, which can help inform the growth of this movement?