The mission of the church as Missio dei : an assessment of the response of Ubunye Free Methodist Church to domestic violence.
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This dissertation is an assessment of the response of Ubunye Free Methodist Church (UFMC) of Pietermaritzburg to domestic violence in light of the mission of the church in the world as missio Dei. It was undertaken because of the suspicion that the response of this church deals with consequences of domestic violence, but leaves aside its origin and causes, thus providing an incomplete solution to deal with the complex problem. This suspicion was nurtured by my observation of what the church was doing and the knowledge of the theology of the missio Dei, one of the current understandings of the mission of the church in the world. With missio Dei, the church is understood as not having its mission as such but as participating in God’s mission. As the situation to which the church was responding relates to women’s oppression, the model of accomplishing God’s mission during oppression was drawn from the reaction of the prophets in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament to the injustice and the oppression in the community. With regard to this, prophets’ and Jesus’ approach displays four main elements: envisioning a just community, standing with the oppressed, caring for the oppressed, and challenging oppressive structures. Therefore, the question this study sought to answer was: to what extent does the response of UFMC to domestic violence embody the fullness of these elements taken as characterising missio Dei? Through empirical research, these four elements have been used as yardsticks to analyse the goal, strategies and activities comprised in the UFMC’s response. Finally, the study revealed that this response fulfils three conditions as follows: envisioning a just community, standing with the oppressed, and caring for the oppressed. It falls short in the area of challenging oppressive structures. From these results, some lessons have been drawn and have served as basis to suggest how this response can be improved so as to reflect the fullness of missio Dei.