The conversation was led by Amahoro founder Claude and Kelly Nikondeha and this is what they had to say as an intro to the discussions for the week:

As God challenges us to seek justice as part of living out His Gospel imperative in the world, His instructions often touch on economic issues. When describing his mission, Jesus chose the metaphor of Jubilee, a concrete economic practice of debt forgiveness, to showcase the kind of Gospel He was preaching. His Kingdom was good news; the way debt cancellation was good news to those on the wrong side of the economy. To the young ruler who asked about a deeper discipleship path, Jesus instructs him to sell his possessions and distribute to the poor. It was an economic action that would allow him to enter the Kingdom in a deeper way. At the heart of the Lord’s Prayer was the mandate to cancel debts as we long for our own debts to be cancelled. Raw economic language in a Gospel pronouncement, discipleship instructions and our own prayer life… Jesus seemed to bring economics into the center of His conversation about salvation and the good life.

We can even look back further into the Old Testament and see that God’s concern for crafting viable community life always included attention to economic realities. The Hebrew people, laboring under the heavy quotas of the Egyptian empire, were crushed by the dominating economy that cared little (or not at all) for their welfare. God heard their cry and responded with rescue. As the people crossed the Red Sea, they sang of empires and economies having been overthrown by their liberating God. Then God created a new economy with the Ten Commandments as the foundation, ten commands that spoke of loyalties, treatment of others and economic behaviors within the community. He proceeded to establish guidelines for the emerging economy that allowed for all to live well in the new land, possessing a place to live and a decent livelihood to provide for the care of each family.
But as history has unfolded, societies have taken a more Egyptian approach, and economies have followed suit. Current economies, with layers of complexities that the prophets and evangelists never imagined, are strong shaping forces in our world. Economics, be it global, local or personal, press upon us daily. Whether in the church or in the community, we cannot escape economic realities. Money – having it, not having it, wanting it or wanting more of it – influences much of our lives and the lives of those we serve. Housing and food security, education and employment, opportunity and hope for the future are all entangled in our economies, and so we are ever contending with economic realities as we go to work, sit at the table for a meal or worship together and sing of God’s justice.
We cannot ignore the powerful influence of economies on our lives, ministries and communities. We cannot ignore the words of instruction the Gospel offers us on such systems and our corresponding behavior within those economic structures. Economies can be redeemed as we engage in the manner of Jesus. How do we address our personal economies, our own households, on matters like indebtedness, cancellation of debts and generous lending practices? How do we interact in our local economies as workers and employers? Do we advocate for justice in the workplace, care about providing a living wage and safe work conditions? Do we care about demonstrating compassion and grace in the marketplace? Do we stand for justice by confronting the injustices within economic structures? How do we see God’s transformational work penetrating all levels of economics?
Never in our history has there been so many rich people and so many poor people!

The Amahoro family explored these questions together in Mombasa this May. As we are all part of God’s Kingdom, how do we understand and embody His economic policy as a strand of our discipleship? What can we learn at the intersection of theology and economics? What can we discover as we discuss best business practices in the marketplace or the employment challenges that face our communities? Can we catch God’s vision for His Kingdom economy that is shaped by grace, gratitude and provision for all? Can we even begin to imagine what that could look like if lived it out in our neighborhoods? We believe we can begin to do just that as we dream and discern together about Gospel Economics: land, labor and love.

Muhindo (middle) from the DRC played a major role in organizing the Amahoro event in Mombasa.

Land.If all the earth is the Lord’s, then how do we understand personal property, common land and homelessness? How do we think of stewardship of land and the power that comes with land ownership? If land is a metaphor for a home and a livelihood, as we see in the Old Testament, how do we think of homes, jobs and provision for all in our current communities?

These Arabic ladies (very unique to Kenya) prepared traditional food.

Labor.The work of our hands is the greatest personal resource that we contribute to our economies. It is an intimate investment, involving our sense of identity and dignity. When we work, it is not just our labor but also our very selves poured into the task. When we cannot work, it is the self that is denied participation in the economy. So how do we work? Do business leaders respect the image of God in their workers and offer safe working conditions and a fair wage? How do we think about labor and management, exploitation and respect in the workplace?

Sharing life together!

Love  We are called to love our neighbors and to care for their well-being as ones who bear the image of God. Time and again God calls us to show compassion on the most vulnerable in the community (orphans, widows, foreigners) and to shape societies in ways that include all members of the community. Such love includes provision, justice and all manner of neighborliness. Do we advocate for justice within our economic structures? Do we demonstrate God’s deep value for each person and embody His grace in the ways we engage in our local economy? Do we make room for everyone in our economies… showing compassion and leaving no one behind?

And the chefs proudly displayed their artwork for us to enjoy!