In terms of contextualization, I write from experiences gained in a specific context, namely, as mentioned, an urban context in South Africa, specifically in Gauteng, and even more specifically, in Pretoria and Alberton. I focus on destitution in South Africa, while continuously reflecting on my experiences in a specific context. I also write from the perspective of a church-based organization/s striving to address a very real need in a broken world. This context had and still has a major effect on my beliefs, perspectives and approaches, as reflected in the writing of this thesis.
6.3Using the praxis cycle
The “Praxis Cycle”, as a way of doing contextual theological research, utilizes four phases in its method, namely:
Insertion takes place by means of personal experiences during my work experience in Estcourt, Popup, and currently Alberton, over a combined period of 10 years, as well as interviews with destitute people. It therefore stands to reason that insertion includes my own interpretations of matters regarding destitution, based on personal experience and reflection.
My personal interest and concern regarding destitution increased when I was confronted with the problem of destitution in a rural congregation in Estcourt a number of years ago. Thereafter I became involved in Popup, an “upliftment” project operating in the City of Tshwane, in a full-time capacity. I was specifically involved in the daily counselling and development of destitute people. The project housed up to 150 destitute people at any given time.
From there I moved to Alberton, where I became involved in a non-denominational church called Alberton Lewensentrum. Part of my current job description centres on community outreach and welfare. In working with destitute people over the years, many of their questions became mine, and my desire to discover practical, holistic and missiologically sound answers to their plight has grown.
The problem of destitution is a complex problem caused by many varied and dynamically interactive factors. Analyzing the problem includes defining the internal and external factors contributing to destitution. Therefore I indicate the dynamic systemic interaction between different factors contributing to destitution. Specific focus is accorded to the South African political and economic context. From this analysis a model of holistic care is developed in order to address the problem of destitution.
In developing a model of care for church-based organizations, I reflect in a multidisciplinary way in the light of my missiological focus, aiming to explore the reasons for destitution, and possibilities for successful intervention. I develop a theology of missions to the destitute. SHALOM is explored as the missiological aim of intervention with the destitute.
I employ literature studies, interviews and personal experiences in order to reflect on helping the destitute. I do this in a multi-disciplinary way, incorporating insights from various related fields of study into the reflection.
6.3.4Planning (Pastoral planning for action)
In planning for action, I develop a comprehensive and holistic model of care intended for use primarily by CBO’s in helping the destitute. This model is unpacked in three major movements, namely prevention, treatment and aftercare. In describing the given model, I explore practical suggestions as solutions to the problems surrounding destitution. The model is developed with dynamic application in mind: different CBO’s should be able to apply this model in a specific way in their specific context. In the final chapter the different aspects of the model are brought together in a way that makes it possible to apply the model to different contexts.
6.4An interdisciplinary study
Following a very strong contextual missiological starting point facilitated by the use of the Praxis Cycle, it must also be said that any kind of intervention that promotes empowering the destitute, even interventions traditionally associated with other disciplines, fits into my framework of helping the destitute. Therefore this study is interdisciplinary, in the sense employed earlier.
I use insights from social sciences, sociology, psychology, public theology, pastoral therapy, occupational therapy, social welfare, missiology, project management, psychiatry, medical and health science and practical theology in doing this research.
The question can be posed, “Why is this a missiological study, and not a practical theology study?” The answer is simple, and personal. I believe that this study fits best in the field of missiology, even though it makes use of many insights from the field of practical theology especially. Personally, I view interventions that help the poor as the continuing of the Missio Dei (as stated above); therefore my study may be described as missiological.
I also believe that academic disciplines, and especially the theological ones, do not stand alone, but overlap and interact, as is clearly the case with missiology, practical theology and other fields in this thesis.
And lastly, IUM (the Institute of Urban Mission) was the institution where I found a personal home and place of reflection towards helping the destitute; therefore it logically follows that I would choose to place my study where I feel more at home, namely with a missiological institution.
The theme was developed with a specific aim in mind; therefore it is necessary to reflect clearly on what I mean by every word in the theme. To accomplish this, I look at each word as it is currently understood in the English language, adding to this my own perspectives and understanding, while also drawing on a Biblical understanding of certain words and concepts where necessary.
The sub theme (A Contextual Missiological Study), needs to be explained first, since it creates the background for the rest of the theme.