The struggle for promoting life, justice, and peace is the task and the responsibility of church in the world. The churches believe to God as the God of Life, the Source of Justice and Peace, that is why they are called to promote life and to bring justice and peace in this world. The church can only be a truly and genuine community of God, when they can strive for the justice and peace. Both justice and peace are at the very heart of God, so the denial of justice and peace is actually the denial of God from whom they flow. The Life, Justice, and Peace are interconnected each other and cannot be understood separately. There will be no peace without justice, and when peace are absent in this world the life is actually at stake and threatened. Justice is just a means which we take to bring life for those whose life have been denied as well as for the whole creation, and to offer peace as a single option to this divided and conflicting world.
As an integral part of the World Christianity, the Churches in Asia are also responsible to strive for the betterment of life through their efforts for justice and peace in Asian continent. This is all about the ministry of church to the world. However, the Churches in Asia have to be aware of the challenges they are facing in the process of seeking justice and peace. There are some issues need to be taken into account when they are doing the ministry in Asian context:
Asia is the most populated place (a half of world population live in Asia) as well as the most diverse continent in the world. Its inhabitants are diverse in terms of ethnic, religious, cultural, national, habit, and lifestyle backgrounds.
These differences are sometimes causing the tension or conflict among people. One of the examples is the religious conflict between two religious adherents fighting in the name of God. The Moslem-Christian conflict in my local context (Maluku, Indonesia) which occurred in the period of 1999-2004 has clearly indicated it. Up to now, in many parts of Asia we can see that religious conflicts still occur. One of the visible impacts of the conflict is displacement and refuges.
Beside the religious conflicts, Asia is also a place for the militarization, nuclear production, terrorism, and violation of human rights. Especially in term of terrorism, many religious extremist groups have based their movements in Asia, by which Asia is seen as the home for the world terrorism. Many cases of the violation of human rights have also clearly shown that the actors of such a violation are not only “people” (people to people), but also “state” (state to people).
Despite of economic growth, Asia is still a home for a million hungry people and the homeless. This reality signifies the existence of poverty in Asia. People are more difficult to get access of the basic needs, such as food, health, education, and houses, even many of them have died due to the lack of food. Many Asian people work over time, but lowly paid by the companies. Children have no access to go to school, as well as young people are unemployed. The deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS are increasingly spreading in all over the continent. The others have to spend their life in the street living as the homeless. These realities make the poverty in Asia becoming more complicated.
The abuse of human is another issue in Asia, especially for the vulnerable groups. Human trafficking, discrimination against women and children, caste system, and injustice for migrant workers have obviously shown that the issue of human dignity in Asia is problematic and needs to be seriously considered.
The Asian churches now live on Earth that has continuously been exploited by human for the sake of human greed. Deforestation is the best example of the natural discrimination. As one of the large continent in the world, Asia has also contributed something for the climate change (global warming) due to the wide exploitation of Asian forests and any other natural resources by those who wanted to take an advantage of them.
Asian churches live and grow within those contexts and cannot get rid of them. Otherwise, they are called and sent by God in those challenging contexts to bring good news to the poor, the homeless, the sick, the stateless, the suffered, the discriminated, the victims of injustice, to people of different beliefs, and even to this earth. Those contexts are urgently calling the Churches in Asia to reflect upon their prophetic responsibility to speak and to work for justice and peace in this continent. The churches cannot only pray, but have to actively take part in the process of achieving justice and peace. This is because justice and peace is not only given by God, but also as a result of human struggle. The churches have to be the parts of such a struggle…
In the work for justice and peace in those problematic contexts of Asia, the churches cannot stand alone; otherwise they need “the others” to come together in the striving of justice and peace. They have to invite or accept the invitation of people of different faiths to walk together as equal partners in the pilgrimage towards justice and peace. The problems in Asia cannot be solved only by church, but also by all those who live in Asia regardless of their religious, ethnic, cultural, and national backgrounds. This is also because the church is not a universal answer to all the problems. One important thing we have to bear in mind that the pilgrimage should be walked in the spirit of openness and respect to each other with their own differences. No matter how they are different, the common problems and goals have led them to be united.