Mission Vision statement of the Bethlehem Mission Society 2013
God gave us his love first (cf.1 Jn 4:19). He gives us a future. His call has reached us to be a sign for and an instrument of His Kingdom which has appeared in Jesus Christ. This belief inspires us to action. Faithful to the missionary charisma and to the tradition of the Mission Society Bethlehem Immensee, we pay attention to the signs of the times and are ready to help to remould this world.
Who are we?
Stirred by the deeds and words of Jesus we have joined together, as brothers and priests, in the Bethlehem Mission Society.
In Jesus Christ we recognize the healing and liberating love of the triune God: We believe in God, the creator of life, and rely on His fatherly and motherly care.
We orientate ourselves according to Jesus resurrected, our Redeemer and Liberator, who sided with the poor and sick, the outcasts and the sinners.
We trust in the strength of the Holy Spirit, which encourages us to follow the example of Jesus and to recount in word and deed the happiness to be derived from experiencing God as the Source of Life.
Urged on by this love, we unite side by side with the poor in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as in Europe, and with those people who take their side (cf.Lk 6:20-21; Mt 5:3-12).
The form and organization of our community stems from the basic missionary task of integral liberation and of a life fulfilled in God: We orientate ourselves according to the biblical pattern of the community of the disciples of Jesus. This means we follow Christ by working together like brothers.
What do we want to achieve?
We want to work together towards the growth of the Kingdom of God which Jesus Christ has witnessed and lived, and which holds in store for mankind justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (cf.Rom 14:17). We fulfill our commitment in accordance with the following basic options and responsibilities:
Three Basic Options
We proclaim and celebrate the God of Life who manifested Himself in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We accompany men and women who feel challenged and inspired by His person and His ethics. In the sacramental signs of the Church we celebrate His presence in the very midst of the world’s activities.
We are motivated, borne and challenged by God in the face of being tempted by the idols of wealth, power and the market, which generate misery and sorrow (cf.Is 46: 1-8). We therefore put ourselves at the service of the disadvantaged and outcasts not only in Africa, Asia, and Latin America but also in Europe. To effect this we join hands with the local church or those agencies which we consider as our partners. We try to act in solidarity with the people by living and working, celebrating and sympathizing, suffering and sharing our hope with them. Our aim is to empower them to act as free people. Together with them we do our best to secure their human rights. We accept as rich gifts their will to live and the strength derived from their hope.
We promote the exchange and cooperation between people of different continents, cultures and religions. We acknowledge the differences of others and ally ourselves with them in friendship, solidarity and liberating action. In doing so we strengthen the consciousness that mission work is a task which is laid down for all Christians and which must operate in all directions.
We support autonomous missionary local churches by taking part in the promotion and training of local leaders and in establishing small Christian communities.
We look for and rally men and women with a missionary calling to collaborate with us.
Both in society and in the Church, we strive for equality between men and women, lay people and clerics. This does not mean that there shall be no allotment and delimitation of responsibilities.
The living conditions of the marginalized people as well as the exploitation of nature are challenging us to a constant re-examination of our personal life-styles. We want to oppose in common action, those powers which sacrifice both human beings and nature to ideological objectives.
In our formative work we place an emphasis on understanding the universal Church as a community bent on solidarity and learning together.
We support and participate in interreligious and intercultural dialogue. We promote ‚basic human communities‘ in the spirit of Jesus; we attain objectives of common interest and exchange spiritual experiences.
We set great store in scientific research which serves to provide a careful scrutiny of our missionary activity.
In which spirit do we work?
The Bethlehem Spirituality
We draw our spirituality from the sources of the word of God, from liturgy and tradition and from our experience of the faith. The name of ‚Bethlehem‘ stands for a spirituality inspired by the Incarnation of Jesus (cf.Phil 2:6-11). We translate it into concrete terms in the following fundamental philosophy:
The Spirit of Childhood
The Child, with his great trust in his parents, is the model for the boundless confidence which Jesus expressed in the word ‚Abba‘. This attitude helps us to survive grave difficulties and even overcome failure.
The Spirit of Simplicity
Openness for the Gospel frees us from concern and fear for ourselves. It liberates us for service to others. In this way we attain to the love which stems from God and which is at the core of the Gospel. It manifests itself in sincerity, transparency, objectivity, straightforwardness without guile and ambiguity.
The Spirit of Renunciation
We are prepared to dispense with familiar securities and become involved with people of different cultures, religions and levels of society. We let ourselves be guided by the Spirit of God who speaks through them. We strive for modesty in the use of material means. We make it a point neither to create one-sided dependencies nor to lay claim to power.
The Spirit of Missionary Presence
The most important witness to our faith is our personal life; for “what we are says more than what we speak”. We try to be present even in difficult situations, and to remain among the poor and those who have been deprived of their rights.
The Spirit of Fellowship
Our witness will be essentially shaped by the way in which we deal with one another. In our relationships, as in those among brothers and sisters and partners, we experience both loving care and a challenge. We strive to achieve a climate of forgiveness and confidence, which enables us to bear better with human limitations and renders our work more fruitful. We are on the way together with believers of other churches and with all people who, in loyalty to their religions or their convictions, engage themselves for a world in which the fullness of life will be possible for everybody. In doing so we understand ourselves as equal partners, independent of individual situations of life and of cultural or religious backgrounds.
Principles of Action
In conformity with our commitment, our options, responsibilities and fundamental attitudes, we are guided by the following principles of action:
We always seek cooperation with local people’s organizations and with local churches.
We do not seek positions of power within the framework of the local church and in cooperation with local partners. We practice restraint in the use of money resources and in exercising leading positions. We refrain from taking jobs which can be done by local personnel.
We give priority to patient promotion and backing to initiatives from the basis community, in preference to the erection of more buildings and establishments.
We strive for regular evaluation of our activities and attitudes which involve our partners.
We impose upon ourselves a structure of organization and leadership which takes into account both the individual person and a simple and clear shaping of responsibilities and methods of work.
We attach importance at all levels to a leadership which tackles actual problems and keeps an eye on clarity and transparency.
We create conditions that will involve as many of the persons concerned within our institution as possible in the process of planning and decision-making.
We strive to deal honestly and openly with differences of opinion and conflicts in direct dialogue with those immediately concerned.
We respect the limitations of our personnel and material resources. We need not and cannot do everything we deem important. This is all the easier as there are many institutions and movements which are motivated by the same ideals as we are.
Mission work is first and foremost the Work of God in this world. It must always be recognized that God had already been at work before we arrived. This requires a fundamental readiness to keep our ears, eyes, hearts and hands open as a basis of our activity. Thus we do our work in the confidence that we ourselves do not need to achieve everything. The most important things will be given to us, i.e. joy, hope, confidence, perseverance. We hold firmly to the vision of the coming of the Kingdom of God.