Feature

Global ministry trends and issues, part five: Human slavery

No Comments » Written on August 22nd, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Feature

This is the fifth post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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As I return from Asia, cruising at 35,000 feet, I am reflecting on the numerous lives caught up in distinct forms of human slavery. It disturbs me greatly. This is an issue I wish we did not have to focus on, but the mission of God includes those who are victimized and invisible to most of us. “Estimates go as high as 27 million people being enslaved globally. Internationally, 600,000 to 800,000 are trafficked annually, 80 percent of these being women and children” (Steffen and Douglas 346).

The implication for a biblically based justice-mission among these populations is clear. Christ draws our attention to His mission and the fulfillment of Scripture in quoting from Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

Freedom for those enslaved certainly involves a spiritual freedom, but a favorable reading of this text, in conjunction with the practices of Christ, would also lead us to believe that this passage should be understand holistically. Lives are transformed spiritually, emotionally, socially and in many cases physically as well. This notes a need for organizations like the International Justice Mission (IJM) and others that are seeking to work around the world, meeting the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people victimized through exploitation and greed (Myers 3).

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Some examples of children and others enslaved are:

  • An estimated 168 million are caught up in child labor with at least half of that number enslaved and working in hazardous conditions (Johnson and Wu 48).
  • 700,000 children forced into domestic labor in Indonesia (Batstone 6).
  • The largest incidences of slavery in the U.S. are found in California, Florida, Texas and New York (Batstone 214).

Critical training resources and interdisciplinary programs focused on caring for those who have been enslaved are essential. Social justice and advocacy initiatives are also needed to target structural changes that might need to be confronted (e.g. bonded slavery due to debt). There is a lot of interest and passion among students to serve in these areas, but as Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert rightly point out, sometimes trying to help without the right knowledge can end up hurting those we seek to rescue or care for (21-25). Training programs must work hand in hand with organizations on the ground involved in this work. Partnerships between academic and non-profits are a recognized way forward to prepare students with both knowledge and practical experience.

“Christian researchers and practitioners have much to gain from greater interchange of ideas” (Judith M. Dean, Julie Schaffner and Stephen L.S. Smith 6). This is especially true for those desiring to produce quality research and training that will target lowering human slavery indexes. The authors insist that collaboration at all levels between academics and those on the field are critical if we are to have success in reducing poverty and its demeaning results (33-47). As we work together, we build on local knowledge, and the results lead to better practices and career/vocational placements for our graduates.

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Works Cited

Batstone, David. Not for Sale. New York: Harper Collins. 2010.

Corbett, Steve and Brian Fikkert. When Helping Hurts. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers. 2012. Print.

Dean, Judith M., Julie Schaffner and Stephen L.S. Smith. Attacking Poverty in the Developing World. Waynesboro, GA: Authentic. 2005.

Johnson, Todd and Cindy Wu. Our Global Families. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

Myers, Bryant. Walking with the Poor. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis. 2011.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008.

Service with a smile: Students build friendships off campus

Comments Off on Service with a smile: Students build friendships off campus Written on September 24th, 2014 by
Categories: Events, Feature, Students

A cloudy sky and thin veil of rain greeted more than 130 Multnomah University students as they left campus to participate in Day of Outreach on September 23.

Once every spring and fall, students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community in need of their time and energy. A volunteer site can be anywhere: a nonprofit organization, a school, a community center. Even a neighbor's home. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

OutreachFall2014_1"Now we get to give"

The living room at ElderPlace Laurelhurst, a care facility for seniors on Glisan Street, is a bright space filled with round tables where students talk and laugh with elderly men and women over cups of juice and coffee. Colorful flags hang from the ceiling and a giant white teddy bear looks down from an old piano.

Senior Olivia Morud is chatting with Phyllis, a curly-haired woman with blotchy hands and tiny glasses. The two have just finished playing a card game. Morud, an English major from Scappoose, Ore., says she loves being able to listen. "They have so much to say, so many stories," she says. "As students, we are given so much in the classroom. Now we get to give."

Volunteering is important, she says, because Jesus was a servant. "He would be doing this if he was here today," she says."It's close to his heart."

OutreachFall2014_2"A real picture of the Gospel"

Volunteers at Harrison Park School on 87th Avenue, their shoes caked with soil, are constructing a community garden. Some students build raised garden beds while others clear away debris and pull weeds.

Freshman Kimberly Marshburn and junior Maggi Schlosser are filling a garden bed with dirt. Marshburn, a Bible and theology major from Bakersfield, Calif., has been attending MU for only a month, but she's excited to serve the community so soon.

"I was talking to some students the other day who were concerned that we'd become secluded at MU," she says. "But this day shows me that we're living what we say we are. School is the practice zone and then we get to go out and live life together. It's a real picture of the gospel."

"A desire to serve"

OutreachFall2014_4Just a few blocks from campus, senior Cory Howatt is starting a lawnmower in front of a small pink house. Dotty, an wispy woman with hunched shoulders and worn moccasins, looks over her property.

"I've lived in this house for 66 years," she says. "My husband died 30 years ago, and this yard is too much for me to keep up." She smiles. "You guys have been coming to see me for a long time now."

Several volunteer sites, including those featured in this story, are permanent fixtures on the sign-up sheet. That way, students can nurture
friendships over time.

OutreachFall2014_3Howatt, a pastoral ministry major from Koloa, Hawaii, says the day shows people who Christ is through students' service. "Who we get to work with is the best part," he says. "I get to meet people like Dotty."

"We serve out of a desire to serve," he adds. "We may not benefit from any compensation, but we benefit from building relationships."

Check Out Our New D.Min. Track: Global Evangelism

We sat down with Dr. Derek Chinn, director of MU's Doctor of Ministry program, to find out more about the degree's latest track, global evangelism.

Space is still available, and classes start June 2. If you have questions about this track or want to register, contact Dr. Chinn by emailing dchinn@multnomah.edu or calling 503-251-6732.

What's the purpose of the global evangelism track?

Dr. Luis Palau

Dr. Luis Palau

This track is in line with Multnomah’s goal of equipping its students for global mission. The education our students receive is biblically-grounded and academically rigorous, and it deliberately integrates what's learned in the classroom with ministry that takes place in the real world.

How will the track prepare students for missional work?

The majority of the students are already evangelists. They are currently doing the very thing God has gifted them to do, and they will continue to evangelize to those who don’t know Jesus and train local congregations to share the Gospel.

Getting a D.Min. degree will give them the opportunity to study more in-depth the theological underpinnings of evangelism, learn about different strategies and methodologies for evangelism, develop a better understanding and appreciation for the work that builds and sustains evangelistic ministry, and learn from fellow evangelists serving in different contexts.

How is this track distinct from programs offered by other seminaries?

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Dr. Tim Robnett

Students participate and study with instructors who are actively engaged in evangelism around the world. The faculty mentor, Dr. Tim Robnett, is president of Tim Robnett Ministries, and he actively trains and mentors evangelists, locally and internationally. International evangelist Dr. Luis Palau is the senior lecturer for this track and will participate in the instruction. Guest lecturers are respected educators and practitioners in evangelism.

How is the track enriching in terms of professional, spiritual and personal development?

Students will use their professional ministry skills in the church and for the community to equip believers in the ministry of evangelism. They are expected to nurture their personal relationship with God and mature in personal character. Participants in this track will have ample opportunity to reflect on and develop a process of adaptation and application of biblical principles in the area of evangelism.

What makes this program stand out?

The experience that Dr. Robnett and Dr. Palau bring to the classroom is outstanding, and I can't think of any program that brings these types of skills and experience to bear. Dr. Robnett’s deep understanding of how evangelists are gifted and wired significantly shapes how instruction will occur, what coursework is assigned, and what topics will be covered.

Want to find out more about Multnomah Biblical Seminary? Check out our seminary page