Cities in India, including New Delhi (pictured here), were a focus of the discussion at several SPU Day of Common Learning presentations.
If the global church truly wishes to transform the world, its work must be rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This emphasis was at the heart of Joab Lohara's keynote address at Seattle Pacific University's ninth annual Day of Common Learning in October 2010.
"Jesus was in the business of creating another world," Lohara said. "This is the vision that Jesus lived for, and when he left the world, he entrusted the church with the work of global transformation."
As one of three Free Methodist bishops in India, Lohara oversees 900 churches with more than 85,000 members. He drew on his experiences ministering to the physical, social, and spiritual needs of thousands of the poorest of the poor in India to demonstrate the transforming power of the gospel. He also encouraged Americans to support indigenous Christian leaders around the world at work in their own countries as efficient and effective avenues for change.
"They know the people; they know the culture; they know the language; and they have the transforming power of Jesus Christ in them," he said.
Presentations at the Day of Common Learning by SPU faculty, staff, and students also highlighted global transformation through the gospel in the context of their academic disciplines:
"Changing China": Associate Professor of Economics Doug Downing explored the story of China's economic change and the role of microcredit in providing opportunities for the poor.
"The Global Food System and India: Food Security vs. Food Sovereignty": Professor of Sociology Kevin Neuhouser discussed the possibilities of ending world hunger through maximizing food production and strategies that focus on local, organic, and native foods.
"The Global Impact of Infectious Disease: What Can You Do?": Assistant Professor of Biology Cindy Bishop and Professor of Biology Derek Wood discussed the global impact of parasites and infectious diseases with a focus on the "Microbial Impact Project" assembled each year by students in the SPU course "Microbiology."
"Who Is My Neighbor?: Seeking a Christian Response to the Roma Question in France": Associate Professor of French Michelle Beauclair and Instructor of French Andrea Taylor-Brochet looked at the Christian response to the forced expulsion of more than 10,000 Roma from France last year.
"Our Top Ten List of Amazing Good News from India": Professor of Geography Kathleen Braden and Al Erisman, executive in residence, illuminated ten economic and social phenomena from India that create encouragement and hope about India's future.
"SPRINT India: Transformative Mission Through Empowering Education": John Perkins Center staff and members of the Summer 2009 and 2010 India SPRINT teams told stories from their work with Operation Mobilization and the Dalit Freedom Network, empowering members of India's lowest caste through schools and education.
"Kingdom Without Borders: Global Christianity in the 21st Century": Associate Professor of World Christian Studies Miriam Adeney offered an overview of sweeping changes across continents in how men and women are being equipped for Christian service and effective ministry.
In these sessions and others, the biblical call to care for the poor was a prominent theme. Lohara, however, stressed that word and deed must go hand-in-hand for "a world of completely and utterly transformed individuals, families, communities, and nations." A transformed mind, he said, is integral to Jesus' vision of a transformed world.