March 11, 2009

why we live the way we do... [pt 2]

So, what does that mean for us?

I'm referring to what I mentioned in yesterday's post.

Realizing this kind of local commitment in San Diego, has led us towards a deeper commitment to this place and the people. I've looked at this in three ways:
• our region–both San Diego and Tijuana
• our city–specifically the metro area neighborhoods
• our neighborhood–South Park

Speaking of the region, as author Mike Davis pointed out in Magical Urbanism, these two cities are like "Siamese Twins"–deeply dependent upon each other. Unfortunately, people of Latin American descent are often unfairly treated and the federal government continues to militarize our border.

What would it mean to "[w]ork to see that the city where I sent you as exiles enjoys peace and prosperity"? John Howard Yoder, in For The Nations and elsewhere, has argued that the early church was well aware of this kind of posture. Without going into the details, his perspective (and I'm convinced as well) provides a profound shift on what the "Good News" means. In effect, we who choose to be the church, to align ourselves with God's agenda in the world become the good news by how we live. But this can't be carbon copied... it always has to be in context. Just as in the Jeremiah passage.

With this in mind, in this context, we are compelled to embody peace and love where violence and divisiveness is taking ground. Where some would seek the prosperity of San Diego, ignoring the concerns of those living in Tijuana, we pray and live towards the well being of both parts of this region.

I celebrated communion with other Christian leaders at the border fence for months. This simple act of being the Church together has spoken loudly to political leaders and citizens of both Tijuana and San Diego. Appreciating our attempts to simply serve and practice unity with our brothers and sisters from the south, a Christian leader from Tijuana recently told me he would be willing to be our liaison in developing deeper relationships with Christians in Tijuana. This was an honor I didn't expect.

But this is just a start. I think those of us in this region would do well to look at Dr. Glen Stassen's Just Peacemaking books and material for assistance in imagining a more just and peaceful region. If we really believe in changing the factors that empower some to benefit while others suffer we have to consider things such as:

• Developing non-paternalistic relationships with people in Tijuana
• See more San Diegans learn to speak Spanish (more on this later)
• Find economic development models that work in Mexico, and specifically Tijuana (such as Cafe Justo)
• Consider engaging in nonviolent advocacy, accompaniment and intervention for those seeking a better way of life
• Nurture more theological development around the idea of Jesus as an immigrant

I don't assume to have the means to address each of these things. But I feel like part of being the church in San Diego calls us to address this. I won't go into anymore detail on my reasons. You can read more about those here, here and here.

... more to come on city and neighborhood.


Anonymous said...

This is great stuff glad you wrote this it reminds me of some of my own personal religious faith struggles recently with prosperity and how the church in the US has largely forgotten our neighbors just south of the border.

I'd love to hear your ideas on what engaging relationships with church leaders means, and how do you think the best way to help aid evangelism and deal with the often huge aspect of poverty amongst christians and all Mexicans especialy with the desperation along the border region.

Jason Evans said...

That's some good food for thought, D. Let me think on that for bit and respond.

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