Since writing the first blog there's been some good dialogue beginning about the Global Missions Dilemma. And I've been doing some more thinking and research about how community development and church planting interrelate in a Global Mission sense, especially in Asia.
I've begun reading “Walking with the Poor - Principles and Practices of Transformational Development” by Bryant L. Myers, a highly recommended text exploring this area. Myers fully endorses this model as crucial for healthy Global mission and Walking with the Poor. He gives excellent theological, sociological and anthropological foundations for the conclusions he comes to along with the practices he recommends. In short, he would very much agree with the model we are espousing & living.
And when I attended World Vision Australia (WVA) Staff Devotions as a guest and friend of World Vision this week, Claire Rogers, new WVA CEO emphasised the intrinsic and foundational value of the Christian faith to the outstanding community development work of World Vision.
We need not be apologetic in expressing our faith as we carry out community development work. Yet it's with grace, respect, kindness and giving people hearing us complete freedom as they consider what we're saying. And even firstly, us hearing what's important to them.
Over 90% of community development work globally is done by ‘faith-based’ organisations. So, being authentic and genuine about who we are and what we believe is simply sharing our lives with others.
The challenge comes if we overstep the mark and indicate our beliefs are superior or even required for support. This is not Christ-like nor is it even ethical. We must show genuine respect for others.
Just like I have befriended my Muslim and Hindu neighbours inviting them each into my home on various occasions and visiting their’s, respecting their beliefs, but also sharing mine when relevant and helpful, so it is with community development work and Christian witness.
For ten years, Asian Outreach served in impoverished rural regions providing medical and dental care, without saying why or what their beliefs were. They simply served and gave, showing Christ’s love. The rural people are quoted as saying: “Why are you helping us, when our own have forgotten us leaving us to die?” Yet, those serving simply gave Christ’s love unconditionally.
After 10 years they began to speak about why and about the transformative nature of the One True and Living God. Whole villages came to know Jesus. Now, entire regions have become Christians and are living as passionate followers of Jesus.
More next time. We're interested in your thoughts so by all means let us know what you think.
For the Asian Outreach Team
Executive Director & Partner Relationship Manager
Asian Outreach Australia