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We are glad to welcome Rev. Dr. Stephen Skuce onto the advisory board of the Alliance. He is already the conference coordinator for one of the two UK vulnerable mission conferences. He is an Irish Methodist minister and former mission partner in Sri Lanka. He teaches missiology at Cliff College, Derbyshire, England.

For details of conferences in early 2009 see: Vulnerable Mission.

Interesting quote: "postcolonial intellectuals [must] learn that their privilege is their loss" (Ashcroft. et al 28).

Here is some more reading of interest:

1/ My Experience

Julia Pring gives an honest testimony of nine years of mission work in Kenya. Her down to earth account illustrates scenarios that, I believe, are frequently being played out around the Continent that could be avoided by the following of Vulnerable Mission principles. Thanks to Julia for making herself vulnerable in writing this, so that others learn from the mistakes that she made. Julia is an active member of the alliance, and is promoting 'vulnerable mission'.


2/ Discussion

More discussion on Vulnerable Mission issues is found at THE VULNERABLE MISSION BLOG Please take a look!

3/ Immorality of Aid

One of the most read articles on my website, this piece (recently updated but written some years ago) considers 'aid' practices as immoral in their inherent manipulation and restriction of options. What implicit obligations remain with an outsider who controls a foreign community through aid flows? Is it just to undermine a communities own infrastructure and capacity in order to facilitate foreign aid? Is there not a need for at least some foreigners not always to operate from a powerful position?

The immorality of Aid to the "Third World"

4/ Is Translation a Silver Bullet?

As elsewhere, a high standard of SIL scholarship is shown in this article looking at translation-in-context. While here specifically applied to Bible translation, the principles elucidated by Ernst-August Gutt apply as much, I suggest, to inter-cultural mission. That is, in order to have successful communication across a cultural divide the content of the message must be altered. Not altering the content, will result in mis-communication. Hence the Alliance for Vulnerable Mission advocates for vulnerable mission; to give the communicator sufficient contextual knowledge to communicate successfully by altering the content of the message presented in line with the target context. See especially pages 1 to 8 and 15 to 16).

The Gutt Article.

5/ Can the Subaltern Speak?

This is a question asked by an anthropologist. 'What is a subaltern' you may be asking? Good question. Someone who is poor, disempowered, and not a member of the hegemonic community. Gayatri Spivak suggests in her article that 'underdogs' in the Third World cannot speak. Hence anthropologists have little time for people who want to say 'this is what Africans say' . Wow. That is incredible, I thought. Thanks to anthropologists for pointing this out. That is why we need vulnerable missionaries to become a part of communities in places like Africa, and not simply to assume that what they are 'told' by the people they happen to meet is accurate and helpful. Spivak seems to be saying as an anthropologist exactly what I have been saying from a linguist's perspective! (I know this is a complex point. If you want your brain stretched, start by looking at the link below! Spivak's article is published in a book called Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture.)

The Spivak Article.

6/ Countering Racism through Vulnerable Mission

Does ignoring difference do away with racism? Or can it aggravate it, by precluding the possibility of getting round the differences concerned in order to build lasting relationship? This article by Jim Harries consider ways in which the imposition of English onto African communities prevents them from dealing with their own key issues that happen to differ from those faced in Western nations. (The article is posted at the Civilisation of Love website - containing other worthy reading, by Nigerian Catholic priests living in Canada.)

The Article about Countering Racism.

Jim Harries
Chairman, Alliance for Vulnerable Mission

For details of conferences in early 2009 see: Vulnerable Mission.