The Kairos Foundation in Argentina

From: http://www.kairos.org.ar/english/

The Kairos Foundation: for
the Kingdom of God and His Justice

29 March 2011

 

 

By Elisa Padilla

What does it mean to be a follower of Christ in the 21st century? What
does God expect of his church, of the millions of communities of faith spread
throughout the world?

The opportune time

 

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, a group of Christians from different denominations
came together over thirty years ago to try to answer these questions and put
them into practice. They were concerned about the tremendous dichotomy many
Christians seem to live by: the spiritual vs. the material, the individual vs.
the social, the sacred vs. the secular, theology vs. practice, church vs.
professional life, and so on.

In this dichotomized life, faith is merely spiritual, with an
individualistic emphasis, limited to the realm of the sacred. It is focused on
simply having the correct theology and is circumscribed to the life of the
church. Material needs, social responsibility, the so called “secular” realm,
every-day practice, professional life, and vocation seem to be part of another
compartment, unaffected by the lordship of Christ and untouched by Christian
values.

When we adopt this dualistic approach to life, faith becomes a Sunday
religion that has little to offer to the urgent problems that face the majority
of the world’s population, like hunger, lack of access to water, increased
violence and drug use, ecological contamination, over-accumulation of wealth,
lack of significant interpersonal relationships, land expropriation and the
millions of small and big issues that remind us daily that the kingdom of God,
though among us, has a long road to go until it comes in its fullness.

So it was that this group of people, under the lemma “For the Kingdom of
God and His Justice”, created in 1976 the legal framework for the Kairos
Foundation, aware that it was, as the Greek term kairos reveals, “the
opportune time” for a new life.

A change in the way we think

Guided by the conviction that individual and community life and mission
must not be partial and one-sided but integral and complete, and that the
lordship of Christ must extend to all areas of life, they began by developing a
study program that would help Christians rethink their lives in the light of
the Scripture and of group discernment. Instead of following the traditional
content and methodology of theological training (Old and New Testament,
Systematic Theology, etc., taught by one teacher) they proposed daily life as
the starting point and organized the content in four areas of study: work,
family, society and church. In the program, students will get into readings
from Scriptures, theology and social sciences, and struggle through tough
issues of our world as they interact in group discussion moderated by a
facilitator.

Throughout Latin America, this program, CETI, the Spanish acronym for Centro
de Estudios Teológicos Interdisciplinarios
(that is, Center for
Interdisciplinary Theological Studies), has inspired husbands to value their
wives as equals, students to get involved in environmental issues, churches to
help women get out of a network of human trafficking and many other signs that
indicate that CETI, far from being a mere intellectual exercise in theological
training, has the effect of changing people’s way of thinking so as to change
their way of living, in accordance with the apostle Paul’s call in Romans 12.2.
In other words, CETI nurtures Christian’s thought and practice to grow deep
into the soil of Integral Mission.

A change in what we read

The powerful influence that the written word exerts when it is placed in
the hands of many readers is undeniable, especially when what they read is
solid, thought provoking and life changing literature. Ediciones Kairos
is the publications branch of the Kairos Foundation that addresses issues that
have to do with the mission of the church. From pastoral psychology to the care
of creation, from Bible commentaries to family violence, from church-life
issues to child theology, Ediciones Kairós seeks to publish good, quality
reflections directly written in the Spanish language, in efforts to gather and
circulate throughout the continent the rich theological production coming out
from the Latin American context.

Its bi-yearly KAIROS magazine deals with contextual issues facing
Christians at a given moment: the military cue in Honduras, the land
expropriation of indigenous communities in Argentina, the issue of death, the
life and mission of the church in society, HIV Aids, and many more. The
magazine, of free distribution, gets into the most unexpected hands and in many
cases is used by churches to guide group discussion.

A change in how we live

A change in the way of thinking can lead to a change of life. Once your
eyes begin to see the world from God’s perspective, once you begin to feel the
pains of the earth, once you understand you and your church have a mission in
the world that extends far beyond holding an amazing church service with the
most entertaining music and the most dynamic preaching and the most comfortable
seating and most perfect sound equipment, then, what do you do? How do you do
it? How does your church begin to engage the issues and respond to the needs of
its members, its neighborhood, its state, its country and the needs of the
world?

Community Ministries was created in an effort to answer these questions. Over the years, and
thanks to the effort of two staffers and dozens of volunteers, this ministry
has developed seven different programs, each, concentrating on different areas
of change: Church and Community, Youth Facilitation, Children and Inclusion,
Teens for Fair Treatment, Recreation and Art, Public Impact and Advocacy (human
trafficking, aboriginal communities) and last, network participation in
integral mission programs (with global organizations like The Micah Network,
Micah Challenge, Youth for Christ, Compassion International, The Salvation
Army, World Vision, Viva Network and others).

Be it face to face, in a different country, province or town, or through
email, Facebook or Skype, the staff and volunteers of Community Ministries
continue to motivate and encourage each other and new friends to give their lives
in service to others as a fundamental aspect of being a Christian.

Small and beautiful

The fourth area of ministry of the Kairos Foundation has a physical
location: 40 km North of downtown Buenos Aires, among green lawns and leafy
limes and cedars, works a small group of people that are trying to live out
their Christian faith caring for one another, practicing hospitality to church
groups that attend the retreat centre, being kind to the environment, offering
special care to the needy, and optimising the use of facilities and funding.
The ministry of the Kairos Center is always open to receiving volunteers
that are willing to share the workload at the Centre, experience the joy of
community and serve in a partner ministry in the area.

As the statement of purpose indicates, the Kairos Foundation is
dedicated to promoting radical Christian discipleship and integral mission from
an evangelical and ecumenical perspective, with a contextual and
interdisciplinary focus. We are a group of around fifteen staff members,
including theologians, administrators, social workers, designers,
communicators, cooks and maintenance people, plus many occasional and permanent
volunteers. We come from different social and denominational backgrounds.
Although working on a tight budget, we struggle to fulfill our purpose,
discerning as a team each new step, valuing interpersonal relationships, trying
to read the signs of the times and to respond to the needs of our context. We
emphasize cooperation with other organizations that are open to the
transforming hand of God in all areas of society, and we are always thankful to
God for the privilege of cooperating in the service of his Kingdom.

Edited version published in Mission Magazine, Spring 2011 issue. www.missionmagazine.net

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