This week, Regnum Studies published a new book on discipleship, suffering and racial justice by Rev Dr Israel Olofinjana, director of our One People Commission. To mark the launch, Helen Locke interviews Rev Israel on the inspiration for the book and its message, and the impact he hopes to see.

Tell us a little bit about the new book.

The book explores the themes of whole-life discipleship, suffering and racial justice. On the surface these three themes appear separate but through a closer look with an integral lens one realises that they are connected. The book looks at suffering from the context of majority world people’s experiences and theologies and argues that we need to pay attention to some of those experiences to see what we can learn in this pandemic season which has brought unprecedented suffering on our world.

Why this book? Why now?


I started writing this book just before the pandemic broke out but as the pandemic came upon us my reflections on suffering deepened. I believe we need a better understanding of the theology of suffering and lament at this particular time and season. I believe God is calling the church to follow the God who asks us to deny ourselves and carry the cross. There is also an element of racial injustice that connects to the suffering of people of colour and this is something that we have been discussing this season. The book proposes that the only way the church can address racial injustice is to see racial justice as an essential ingredient in our various discipleship models.

Why is the message of this book important to you personally?

The message is particularly important to me as someone who grew up with the legacies of colonialism and who now resides in the west. The impact is huge and therefore I wanted to write something that gives us an opportunity as God’s people to discuss this important but painful topic. We need to have these conversations so that we can be healed and experience restorative justice.

The title suggests discipleship, suffering and racial justice are connected – not isolated issues. Why is it important to recognise that?

As articulated above, it is connected when we use an integral lens, but oftentimes in our western categories and thought patterns, we tend to separate these issues or compartmentalise them. The book proposes a holistic theological framework that can help us connect the three themes together. The jubilee concept in the Old Testament is a very helpful framework that situates a covenant community at the heart of justice issues such as freedom of slaves, debt cancellation and ecological recovery. This is indeed community and justice.

Who is the book written for and what impact do you hope it will have on readers?

The book is written for church leaders, CEOs, mission leaders and organisational leaders who are wrestling with issues around racial justice, Black Lives Matter, and so on. People in our churches will also find the book useful as it has questions at the end of each chapter to help individuals or facilitate group discussions in small groups in our churches. Theology and mission students who are looking for books on the subject of discipleship and racial justice will also find it valuable. It is hoped that this book will help us move the conversation forward in terms of how we see the relations between the gospel and justice in our churches.

Can you share one practical thing for church leaders to take away from the book?

One of the things the book discusses is how church networks, mission organisations and theological colleges can go on an intercultural journey that sees our churches and organisations become more diverse than ever before. An important practical point posed is for churches and organisations to not always see appointing one person of colour into our church network or organisation as the end of success but the starting point of success. We must deepen such engagement with multiple appointments because the voices of people of colour are multi-layered. 

How can readers get their hands on a copy?

The book is available here from Regnum Books, part of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. It is also available on ama​zon​.co​.uk.