The Perspectives on the World Christian Movement is offering an evening class on the University of Oregon campus this winter. The fifteen week course will present 15 different speakers and will run January 5 through April 20, 2010 on Tuesdays from 6-9 p.m. in the Ben Linder room of the EMU. The fee is $225 and offers college credit.
The first class was this evening and featured guest speaker Tom Theriault, a Presbyterian minister from San Diego, CA. His experience in international missions was with an outreach to the Afar, an impoverished and predominantly Muslim minority group in Ethiopia. He felt like Islamic extremists took advantage of groups like these to turn their poverty into hate. He said this kind of ministry was strategic to quell hostilities. "An ounce of love now is better than a ton of bombs later," he said.
The topic Theriault was scheduled to speak on was "The Living God is a Missionary God," but he re-titled it "God on the Go" in his presentation. In a breathless two-hour talk he attempted to demonstrate how the entire Bible is a book that reflects "the heartbeat of God for the nations." He challenged the commonly held motive of those who use religion selfishly for "Me and Mine." By constantly referring back to this, "M&M," theology he was able to contrast it with a less self-centered, "We are for the World" or "W&W" concept.
He also challenged the prophecy movement within Christianity that focused on trying to figure out the date and time of Christ's return so that Christians might escape their uncomfortable lives. He called it the "great distraction" that takes emphasis away from the Christians' true calling to help liberate creation from its bondage of decay and the healing of the nations.
In regard to the topic of immigration, he felt that people coming into the U.S. was a great opportunity rather than a threat. Being from a border city of San Diego, this is most likely a very hot issue with his local community. He shared that Christians should not be building walls, but making doors.
Overall, the talk was very intriguing and thought provoking, and I am looking forward to what the next weeks and speakers will bring. If you are interested in attending you can sign up online at perspectives.org/eugene.