This is part five of a five part series written by USPG entitled All Things Are Possible, exploring how faith in God can change the world.
Key Text: Philippians 2:4-11
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states:
‘We are determined to mobilise the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.’
Partnership is a wonderful ideal but, realistically, people are complicated, contrary and often unco-operative! This study explores the idea that true partnership among people and communities is only possible when God is part of the partnership.
Recall a time when you have been a part of a team that achieved something successfully – whether this was a small or a large thing. Reflect on what it was about how the team worked together that made it successful. Share your thoughts in the group.
Article by the Revd Kamran Younis, vicar of St Andrew’s Church, Karachi, in the Church of Pakistan. Kamran received training with the USPG-supported Asian Theological Academy.
Following the partition of India in 1947, the country of Pakistan was founded on the ideology of ‘two-nation theory’, whereby a nation could accommodate both Hindus and Muslims as intertwined rather than separate communities. The hope was that Hindus and Muslims – and, indeed, people of all faiths – would be free to worship and participate in their own religious practices.
Christians supported this initiative and were instrumental in helping to form the new nation of Pakistan. Because we were involved right from the start, this is why we can say we love our country.
However, today, with a Muslim majority and Christians making up less than 3 per cent of the population, we are considered second-class citizens. There is no doubt that some Christians have met with discrimination and prejudice. However, there are also many positive things and, in general, we have good relations with the majority community.
I grew up in a Christian community within the Pathan ethnic group in northern Pakistan. I have never had any difficulty communicating with my neighbours. Indeed, Christian and Muslims have regular interfaith dialogues at which we can share our thoughts.
Persecution sometimes happens but this does not mean everyone is corrupt or extremist, and most people condemn extremism. I used to play badminton and my partner was a Muslim Pathan. We were good friends: we ate together and spent time together, visiting each other’s homes. This is normal.
The situation in Pakistan is critical, but not only for minorities – it is critical for everyone. What I mean is, there is no justice for the poor whether they belong to the minority or majority community.
Recently, a Muslim boy was lynched by a mob at his university. He was accused of blasphemy, but when police investigated the case it was discovered to be a false claim motivated by personal rivalry.
But, no matter what happens, we Christians are thankful that God made us witnesses in this country.
Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Take it in turns to reflect on the question posed at the start of this study: What does it mean to live in partnership with God? Share briefly your insights.
Allowing God’s presence to fill your life
In silent wordless prayer, sit as a group – acknowledging with gratitude the time you have shared together during this study course. [Pause]
Acknowledge your own vulnerabilities, your wounding, your suffering. [Pause]
Know that God has also experienced vulnerability, wounding and suffering. [Pause]
Know that there is a place for you in God’s heart. [Pause]
Know that you are completed accepted, exactly as you are. [Pause]
Know that God is in you and around you. [Pause]
Know that God’s love and light fill the whole world and everyone in it. [Pause]
Know that this love conquers suffering and death and is born again every moment in you. [Pause]
In your deepest sense of self, know that God is risen in you and REJOICE! [Pause]
Self-giving God, who in Christ gave yourself for our salvation,
thank you that you call us into your mission for the world.
Inspire us, who are partners in the gospel, to follow in your steps,
in the way that leads to fullness of life in you.