DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Space… God’s Frontier

Written by: on May 14, 2015

Space… the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before.” Queue theme music. As a Trekkie, I could not resist.

Valentine is not referring to this kind of space, although the book would have been more enjoyable. J  Rather this space that Valentine is referring to is understood to play an active role in the constitution and reproduction of social identities; and social identities, meanings and relations and is recognized as producing material and symbolic or metaphorical spaces.”[1] The overall discipline of this space-ology, is defined as Social geography. Social geography as Valentine defines it as an “inherently ambiguous, an electric field of research and writing.” He says it is best summed up as “the study of social relations and the special structures that underpin those relations.”[2]

This discipline went through a major shift after WW2 as the focus changed from descriptions of uniqueness to concerns with similarities of different geographic location.[3] Valentine seems to suggest that the focus was “on spatial order and the use of quantitative methods to explain and predict human patterns of behavior.”[4] Yet, even in Valentine’s opinion, space is not a static issue rather it is “a product of intricacies and complexities that interlock and have non-interlocking parts of relations with the unimaginable cosmic to the intimately tiny. It is a product of relations, relations which are active practices, material and embedded, practices which have to be carried out, space is always in a process of becoming it is therefore always being made.”[5]

Valentine deviates from the typical social geography textbook where each section discusses separate issues such as gender, class, race or other social aspects. Valentine structured his text book where space remains the focus through a gradual movement outward, e.g., body, home, community, institutions, street, suburban street, city, rural, nation, and outer space. (no he didn’t go that far. But, it would have been so cool if he did. “Engage!”)

All this is highly academic and somewhat interesting for my inner Nerd, however, time does not allow a full in-depth investigation and therefore I am left with a weird feeling that I have just brushed up against something that could be controversial to my inner Child of God who knows of a universal love that transcends time and yes, space. If we regulate our developmental selves to where we come from only than that places limitations on my transformative God.

It is not so much where I come in regards to the geography as much as what I believe. Miller states it this way, “All people and cultures have a particular model of the universe, or worldview. Their worldview does more to shape their development, their prosperity or poverty, than does their physical environment or other circumstances.”[6] Simple comparisons of geographic space reveals remarkable things that cannot be explained except through worldviews and cultural norms. Somalia with a population of 9.9 million is a country constantly in distress and famine with 16 people per square kilometer. However, compared to Japan, population 126 million and having a density of 334 people per square kilometer we see a nation with 21 times more people per square kilometer but doing much better. Another comparison can be made between The Congo – population 47.7 million at 21 people per square kilometer and the Netherlands – population 15.6 million at 461 people per square kilometer but doing much better with less space. And finally we can compare China – population 1.4 million at 131 people per square kilometer and Taiwan – population 23.4 million at 671 people per square kilometer yet China, although ranked 84th in population density, has imposed forced abortion denying young families the opportunity to raise large families, or any family beyond one child. Taiwan has no law and has 5 times more people per square kilometer. Again Miller states, “Each worldview creates different cultural stories and produces different values. Ideas produce behaviors and lifestyles and affect people, cultures, nations, and history.”[7]

Space, is God’s frontier whether it be in the body or out of the body. Space is not the determining factor of my direction and I cannot manipulate it to suggest a different out come for my age, or gender. What I can do is allow God to move into my space and transform my mind to understand His will regarding the space I find myself in. To this end I will continue to venture into His space as I travel around this space.


[1] Gill Valentine, Social Geographies: Space and Society (New York, N.Y: Routledge, 2001), Loc. 345.

[2] Ibid., Loc. 256.

[3] Ibid., Loc. 274.

[4] Ibid., Loc. 286.

[5] Ibid., Loc. 346.

[6] Darrow L. Miller and Stan Guthrie, Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures, 2d. ed. (Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing, 2001), 34.

[7] Ibid.

About the Author


Mitch Arbelaez

International Mission Mobilizers with Go To Nations Living and traveling the world from Jacksonville Florida

6 responses to “Space… God’s Frontier”

  1. mm Deve Persad says:

    So, Mitch, I’m guessing that despite the presence of your inner Nerd, reading a textbook about social spaces isn’t going to rate high on your “I gotta do this again!” list? God absolutely transforms our ability to relate to each and transforms our relationships with others, whether they are geographically close or far.
    As you have had opportunity to visit, experience and train leaders for mission engagement throughout the world, is there one or two common traits that you have observed, in these people, that makes their mission successful?

    • Pastor Deve, if I understand your question correctly, I would have to say that every culture has redeemable characteristics that reflect the goodness and grace of God in some way. There are seven cultural values that are often pitted against one another. One culture may weigh heavily on one side of the axis in regards to a certain cultural value while another culture may be on the opposite side of that axis. Neither one is wrong or better than the other. However, there are some cultural values that lend themselves to potentially incorporating certain aspects of Christianity more readily into their culture while other cultures realize that they might want to slightly alter a cultural value in order to become more of what God would have them to become.

  2. mm John Woodward says:

    Mitch, you are so multi-cultural yourself (a trekkie I assume is a particular cultural grouping?). Yes, a text book seems to be the common theme among the posts this week. I was not particularly smitten with this textbook, and your take on it from a cultural perspective I found helpful. Social geography seems like such a mish-mash of so many things, where it seems that the cultural approach provides a far clearly dynamic among people to understand similarities and differences. In fact, I wonder how much of Valentine’s project would translate into other cultures? Or, because of her complicated and all inclusive approach, how you even begin to bring in and study so many different and varied cultures with this approach. And, as you so well suggest, there is always the God question in all this…which is very much absent in Valentine’s approach. Looking forward to reading your desertion in a year, as you have so many wonderful insights about culture and redemption…I can’t wait! Thanks for your great insights. Beam me down, Scottie!

    • I discern a fellow Trekkie (note the capitalization 🙂 Ha! I too am looking forward to reading my own dissertation. It seems like a snow capped mountain at this point full of pit falls and dangerous snow storms looming ahead. Bless you my friend. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. Michael Badriaki says:

    Mitch, great thoughts here in your post! I really like how you consider the author’s subject and still bring the focus back to the subject matter of belief. You write, “It is not so much where I come in regards to the geography as much as what I believe.”

    Thank you

    • Thanks, Michael. I appreciate you stopping by. I do believe that it is our belief system/world view that guides us more than the geography where we come from. But I also believe that the land does reflect the belief of people. How does the belief system of Ugandans effect the land and the produce of that land?

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