A new book revisits reconciliation
In response to the challenges of this tumultuous year 2020, Daniel N. Diakanwa, a retired Salvation Army captain (pictured above with his daughter Danielle), has written a second edition of his book Key to Intercultural Ministries: A biblical perspective on human reconciliation, which was first published in 2000. In an interview with SACONNECTS magazine, he explains why this topic is relevant today more than ever in the midst of recent social unrest, racial and political strife, and the COVID–19 pandemic.
What motivated you to write this book now?
I’m thinking about the whole situation these days with Black Lives Matter and other movements that are gaining momentum, and so I wrote the second edition of Key to Intercultural Ministries (subtitled A biblical perspective on multi–racial and cultural integration) to share new information gathered during my doctoral research in intercultural ministries. I also want to encourage the planting of multiethnic and multicultural churches in our society, which is increasingly becoming more multicultural. Today, we need to provide a comprehensive teaching manual in intercultural ministries for pastors as well as bible college and theological seminary students. What’s also critical is the need to encourage racial and intercultural unity within the divided church of Christ in America.
You talk about the differences between various church models; what do you recommend as the best model?
Although I discourage the creation of monocultural and homogeneous churches, I encourage the development of multicultural, multiethnic, and multi–congregational churches for the sole reason of growing an intercultural church. I believe the biblical church model is intercultural because it is based on Christ’s utmost desire for His followers to be one in Him as He is one with God the Father as the scripture reads in John 17:21.
Which of these models do you see within The Salvation Army?
All of the church models I mention in the book are found in The Salvation Army. For example, most Hispanic corps are multiethnic because they gather Hispanics from various countries as they share the same language. Some traditional black and Anglo corps, especially in the Greater New York Division, are becoming multicultural. While I recommend the development of multicultural and multiethnic corps, I discourage the creation of homogeneous corps whether they are Anglo, Black, Hispanic, Korean or other.
Homogeneous corps tend to foster racial and ethnic discrimination within The Salvation Army. While homogeneous corps are needed for first–generation immigrants, they should ultimately develop into multi–congregational corps to allow first–generation members to worship in their language while at the same time develop an English–speaking congregation for their second–generation children.
Today because of COVID–19, many churches are meeting on Zoom and other social media platforms. How has this shift in venue affected traditional church models?
During this pandemic, more people realize their need for God. For instance, when we had 9/11, the following Sunday, the churches were packed with people. Today a lot of people are home, and they are following pastors globally, not just locally. So, online ministries are having a great influence.
In my book, I have a chapter on media ministries where I talk about how styles of worship are crossing geographical and cultural borders. People can follow the best preachers online, pay their tithes online, and do virtually anything online.
Many pastors and officers have reported exponential growth. Since meeting online began, one pastor said his congregation has grown from around 100 attendees to 400–500 globally. This response is typical and has leveled the playing field across the board. Social factors such as race, ethnicity, nationality, and geography that have previously influenced the demographic make-up of congregations have been interrupted today by this new paradigm.
What do you hope people will do after they read your book?
I believe Christians will understand that we are members of one human race and that we need to love one another regardless of our racial and ethnic differences. I also hope that readers will understand that Christ’s Great Commission is to go and make disciples of all nations, regardless of race and ethnicity. Finally, it is my prayer that they will truly understand that the mission field is within our society as well as overseas. Hence, we need to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission here and now, in our communities, towns, and cities.
Are you planning to do more writing during your retirement?
Yes, I am in the process of completing my dad’s biography, who was the first black commissioner in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Other writing projects include: Key to Counseling Immigrants, The History of The Salvation Army in French Speaking African Countries, and The History of The Salvation Army in African English speaking Countries. I will also continue to write articles in various Salvation Army magazines and journals throughout the world.
by Warren L. Maye
Key to Intercultural Ministry: A biblical perspective on multi-racial and cultural integration is in production and is scheduled for release on Amazon in December 2020.