A Longer Statement about the Learning from the Least Project
The Learning from the Least Project intends to intentionally learn from the least to facilitate the spiritual transformation of Western Christian spirituality and its mission.Who are the ‘least’? They are those sisters and brothers who have only been regarded as recipients of ministry. They are those who have been regarded as secondary voices in the global Christian movement. For too long these sisters and brothers from Asia, Africa, South and the margins in the West have humbly served the Western mission agenda, often been wounded by the same.
Yet, these same Christians are far from least. Following Christ from the margins, far from the center of prestige and power, they bring a new perspective to serving the one who laid down his life in utter weakness, rejected by the holders of power in His day. They can open up new vistas on the radical servant-hood of the cross of Christ.
This is not to idealize or idolize non-Western Christians. Both individually and as congregations they share many of the same problems as Western Christians. Yet, even the casual traveler among them will almost certainly notice that those who live on the margins of power have a perspective on the way of Christ Jesus that non-Western Christians often fail to grasp.
Why is it important to become renewed the way of the cross? As the Western society becomes increasingly secular, the Christian community faces the challenge of making the love of Christ real to a skeptical audience. As in the early years of the Christian movement in first century, the reality of the love of Christ and the truth of His claims will only be made known through a witness of radical servant-hood.
As Western Christianity must discover again the way of the cross in order to be relevant in its own societies, so Western mission – comfortably accustomed to a status of power and privilege – must be renewed in its spirituality in order to find its place in the global Christian family and its mission in the 21st century. Non-western Christian comprise more that 70% of all global Christians. They are developing their own energetic mission, bringing their creative and culturally sensitive message to their neighbors. After decades of being cast as the ‘younger brethren’ to the West, they will no longer welcome a Western mission agenda being imposed upon them.
In order for Western mission to have a place in the global mission movement it must now come in a new posture – of learner, of quiet helper. In order to assume such a new posture Western christian mission cannot merely conceive of a new strategy, a new technique. It must be prodoundly renewed in its spirituality. This demands a new encounter with the the way of the cross on which Christ emptied himself utterly of all claim to prestige.