MY WORK IN MEXICO
My assignment is to serve as professor at the Theological Community of Mexico (CTM for «Comunidad Teológica de México), and Augsburg Lutheran Seminary (SEMLA), which forms part of the CTM. The CTM is an ecumenical consortium of seminaries in Mexico City (see «Theological Community» at left). My work relates to one of the specific outcomes established by ELCA Global Mission for its work with churches in other countries according to its Accompaniment model, namely, that of the “development of strong and effective leaders.” Following the Accompaniment model, my assignment has been at the request of the Theological Community.
While my activities as professor include teaching things such as theology, Biblical studies, and Lutheran thought, history, and practice, my focus is constantly on practice and not just theory. For me, theology is extremely important because before we can proclaim the gospel, we must grasp it correctly: the gospel of Jesus Christ empowers, transforms, and liberates people and gives wholeness to them as well as to others through them.
Unfortunately, there are many “other gospels” proclaimed today in Christ’s name (Galatians 1:6) that serve to oppress, manipulate, exploit, exclude, and even enslave people. That is why I regard a solid theological formation from a critical perspective to be so vital for those who will serve as leaders in the Christian Church, whether they be Lutheran or of some other denominational background.
At the same time, people must learn to communicate this gospel faithfully and effectively so that people’s lives are changed. In my classes, we constantly raise questions related to the practical aspects of what we are studying, whether it be theology, Scripture, history, or pastoral practice: How does it relate to the problems, needs, and challenges of the people both in our churches and in society in general?
In this way, leaders are formed who can really make an impact in the world. That is the importance of leadership formation. It is not just theological education, although that is part of it. Rather, it is working with others to form leaders for the Mexican churches and Mexican society that have the skills, knowledge and motivation to transform others in a holistic fashion through the gospel.
Furthermore, the importance of this work is that it leads to ministries that are self-sustaining and that multiply themselves. Once solid leaders are trained, they can do God’s work in ways that respond to their own contexts and resources without depending on outside help, including things such as mission funding or foreign missionaries. These leaders are also active in training new leaders who communicate the same vision of the gospel and who can thus respond to the challenges of their own contexts with the resources they have at hand. For that reason, leadership formation is so important: once good leaders are trained, they can carry out God’s mission and have a tremendous impact in ways that go far beyond what foreign missionaries and mission agencies could ever accomplish on their own.
That is why I am deeply convinced of the importance of the work I do and so strongly committed to it. And for that reason, both on my own behalf and on behalf of all of those I work with, I wish to thank all those who support our mission work here in Mexico.