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What is our Spiritual Footprint?
I was privileged to have the opportunity to visit our Partner church, the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP), in January/February of this year. Each year, ABM staff visit our partners for a variety of reasons – to monitor and evaluate projects, to plan new initiatives with our partners, and to discuss ways in which our relationship can grow and develop to benefit both churches. I travelled with a group of young people from Perth, and the Archbishop of Perth, to learn first-hand from our brother and sister Anglicans what life is like in the mountains of the Philippines.
From ABM’s point of view, a partnership visit is a chance to learn more about how Christians in other places live out God’s mission in their own context. This helps us as Australian Christians to reflect on what God’s mission means for us here in our own culture and context. For instance, while in the Philippines I spoke with ECP Prime Bishop Soliba about the ways in which the church was responding to the needs of the poor. The level of poverty is much greater in the Philippines than here in Australia, and the disparity between the very rich and the very poor in the Philippines is visible and stark. This led me to ask myself a number of questions. What can we learn from the ECP about the call of the church to serve the poor in our own country? How do we as a church speak out against injustice in our own country? How can we as partners work together to share the Gospel, here in Australia and in the Philippines? More tellingly, how do we address injustices in other countries, such as the Philippines, which assist us in Australia to live our comfortable lives?
I spoke with one church worker who suggested that if ABM really wanted to assist the poor in the Philippines we could speak to Australian mining companies whose operations impact adversely upon local communities. How do we as Christians in Australia respond to such a challenge?
Serving God through mission is much more than sending money overseas to help people in need. It requires us as Christians to consider how our lives impact on others, and to ask the question – what would Jesus have us do? We hear much in the media these days about ecological footprints and global climate change, but how does our spiritual footprint and our global moral climate impact on those who are vulnerable?