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'Such a timely contribution to the church' 

The themes of discipleship, suffering and racial justice in the context of the pandemic are explored in a new book by Baptist minister the Revd Dr Israel Olofinjana

Discipleship book-cover-designIsrael, Director of the One People Commission, Evangelical Alliance, explores the subject of discipleship and suffering and what we can learn about whole life discipleship and suffering from the experiences and theologies of Majority World contexts.

Discipleship, Suffering and Racial Justice - Mission in a Pandemic World, is published by Regnum Studies, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS). It develops an article Israel wrote for Baptists Together magazine on discipleship and suffering.

He argues that suffering is relative (relativity of suffering) and develops this as a discipleship theory needed during the pandemic and post-pandemic. The book therefore examines post-colonial contextual theologies rooted in pain and how they can serve the Church during the pandemic context.

It proposes alternative discipleship models that addresses racial justice concerns using the concept of Jubilee as a theological framework.  It argues passionately that mission in today’s world must include the concerns of racial justice.

The book explores as an example the suffering context of the pandemic and how the pandemic has affected every area of life. It is argued that this new existential reality is a paradigm shift that demands fresh perspectives and insights on the church’s discipleship model and mission engagement.

Israel says the book covers a range of themes that he hopes will interest many readers, including human identity and racial justice, how to develop an intercultural church or ministry, multi-ethnic Christianity, racial justice and discipleship, climate justice concerns, impact of the pandemic on churches and society, suffering, lament and World Christianity.

It has been welcomed by a number of UK Christian leaders. 

The Revd Dr Kate Coleman, Founder and co-leader, Next Leadership, said, 'Israel’s timely monograph is a powerful and prophetic call to UK churches (and leaders) to embrace the opportunity the COVID 19 season presents, to reassess discipleship beliefs and practices in light of insights Majority World Christianity brings to the gospel imperatives regarding suffering and sacrifice.' 

Gavin Calver, CEO the Evangelical Alliance, added, 'The coronavirus pandemic has been so challenging to us all. In this important book, Israel challenges, encourages, provokes and inspires us all to think and act differently in the days ahead. The questions at the end of each chapter help the reader to ground what they have read in what they are facing in this season too.

'This is such a timely contribution to the church.’

'This book is thought- provoking, insightful and addresses some very current, topical issues, as the church seeks to engage in a society that has been impacted in so many different ways by COVID-19,' said the Revd Canon Les Isaac OBE, Founder Street Pastors Initiative.

'I have found this writing very challenging; knowing that there are many major issues we must face head on as the church post covid-19 pandemic. We face challenges internally, as we work out the changes required to our services, sermons, discipleship and pastoral care. We also need to reconfigure how, outside of the church, we communicate a message of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation to God. 

'This book is a must for every church leader and their leadership teams, as we look for answers to questions about suffering, injustice and discipleship. The book raises some fundamental questions which, if we can find and out work the answers, we have the potential to become thriving, local congregations.' 

Discipleship, Suffering and Racial Justice - Mission in a Pandemic World retails for £6.00 can be purchased from Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS)

Baptist Times, 31/01/2022
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