The International Society for Urban Mission (ISUM) was formed in Klong Toey, the largest slum in Bangkok, in January 2012. God brought together 30 urban Christian thinkers, activists and leaders who longed for God’s people to take seriously the rise of urban slums and to “seek the peace of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7). This group came together as people who have lived in cities across the globe, including: Manila, Yangon, Perth, Mae Sot, Knoxville, Melbourne, Brisbane, Indianapolis, Sydney, Bangkok, Seattle, Manila, Auckland, Glasgow, Chiang Mai, Addis Ababa, and several others. Our purpose was to form a fellowship of urban Christians committed to seeking God’s Shalom for our cities, especially those in 10/40 Window Majority World. Therefore, the focus of ISUM is on active reflection, personal solidarity and leadership development in cities. Dr. Ash Barker was named the first Convener of ISUM and commissioned to help launch ISUM in its first year.
ISUM’s Vision and Values
“Seek the peace of the city where I have sent you, for in it’s peace you will find your own.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
God’s world is increasingly urban, resulting in urban poverty as a significant repercussion and injustice. Today, more than half of all humans live in urban areas, with over one billion in urban slums. Around 100,000 new slum residents are added each day and by 2050 half the world’s population could live in these morphing and moving slum neighbourhoods. Two out of three slum residents live geographically in the 10/40 Window (i.e. North Africa, Middle-East and Asia) where Christians are least present. Modern mission and development, highly dependent on large, stable institutions rarely works here. Thus, urgent collective, thoughtful and committed Christ-actions are required if God’s shalom is to come in these hard to reach places. All Christians are needed and benefit from God’s Kingdom come, the Shalom and justice of God, bubbling up into cities. Therefore, purpose of the International Society For Urban Mission is to be a fellowship of urban Christians committed to seeking God’s Shalom in cities, especially Majority World cities, though active reflection, solidarity and leadership development.
- To support missiological reflection, research and praxis with emerging urban Christian leaders in cities with urban slums.
- To build bridges of solidarity, fellowship and insight between urban Christian leaders in Western and Majority Worlds.
- To help raise-up a new generation of urban Christian leaders theologically enabled, informed and empowered to respond creatively to Christ in the world’s cities.
ISUM’s Commitment to Shalom
Our guiding values are:
- “Bottom up”, grass roots perspectives; rather than “top down”, distanced perspectives
- Local theology revealing new insights and perspectives about God’s activity
- Sharing through narratives embedded within urban poor communities and cities
- Ongoing, practical and personal solidarity with the world’s urban poor
- Networks, relationships & partnerships as the primary method of serving together
- Listening to and amplifying the voices of the urban poor, especially those from within the Majority World and in particular the 10/40 Window cities
- Postures of attentiveness for signs of the Kingdom of God and a willingness to reflect and respond with active, sometimes sacrificial commitment
- Commitment to share and extend the life of the body of Christ amongst the urban poor