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Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Following the Spirit – Fighting Injustice

Something new is emerging in Australia and across the world in signs of the recovery amongst charismatic and Pentecostal Christians of a commitment to stand with the poor and to struggle against injustice, according to Ash Barker, Director of Urban Neighbours of Hope, an Australian originated, missional order committed to living with the poor.

Ash was speaking at Kippax Uniting Church in Canberra during the launch of the anthology Following Fire: How the Spirit Leads us to Fight Injustice. The emerging focus on the Biblical call to seek justice, by Pentecostal and charismatic churches who up till now have concentrated solely on the power of the Spirit only for their own use, Ash , was of tremendous importance. He urged Christians committed to the radical character of discipleship to do what they can to support and encourage this development.

The anthology Following Fire, published by Urban Neigbours of Hope. explores how the Holy Spirit leads the Christian community in the fight against injustice. The anthology covers biblical foundations, historical precedents and practical models of Spirit-led justice-seeking. The anthology has been complied out of the conviction that the flowing together of the charismatic and social justice streams of Christianity, to which it points, has the potential to radically change the world.

While the contributors are mostly from Australia and New Zealand, there are a sprinkling of names on the contents page that will be familiar to Christians in the UK and North America, including Stuart Murray Williams, Martin Robinson, Tony Campolo and Richard Rohr.

Who are Urban Neighbours of Hope (UNOH)?

The UNOH community was first formed in Springvale - a multi-cultural city of Melbourne in 1993. The Churches of Christ mandated this new vision and auspiced the work, although UNOH workers and supporters are from diverse Christian churches.

In May 2001 UNOH was commissioned as "a missional order among the poor" by the Churches of Christ. This came after four years of prayer, refection and experimentation around being an Order. Since 1993 the UNOH workers have served in Springvale among Pacific Islanders, East Timorese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Burmese, indigenous Australians and communities of people with mental illnesses. Ministries in these communities have focussed around starting new churches, leadership development, community development and evangelising.

Since March, 2002, UNOH has be serving in the largest slum in Bangkok, Thailand and has recently commenced a presence amongst the indigenous community in Mt. Druitt, in the outer western suburbs of Sydney.

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