My earliest memory of being aware of refugees even existing simply involves sitting in a living room with a family I couldn’t talk to (because we didn’t speak the same language), and being served my first cup of Turkish coffee in a beautiful, tiny demitasse cup. I was about 16, and I had no idea what this family had experienced or how they had landed in a town near me. I still don’t, not specifically. But they changed my life with their hospitality, at a time when my world was very small.
Over time, God has provided more and more touch points for me with refugee families. Opportunities to help set up apartments, welcome families, and walk with them for a time. Opportunities to hear their stories and their dreams. Every time, I receive from them so much more than I give—a more complex world, a softer heart, a bigger God.
Last week, Anna blogged about the complexity of generational poverty and the need for prayer. The truth is, we see Him answer these prayers every day. We are so excited about what God is doing amongst those who are experiencing poverty—bringing transformation in their thinking and causing them to flourish. We just finished up our first ever TCT East Africa Forum, with 31 pastors and denominational leaders. So I’m sure that, in the coming year, we’ll be sharing lots of stories of God’s power and faithfulness from that group of dynamic men of God!
Here are a couple of “Praise God” stories from TCT-partner churches in Uganda…
Happy New Year from Reconciled World!
In October, we announced that Reconciled World’s theme, which we believe we heard from the Lord, is
Be still, and know that I (the Lord) am God.
Now, here it is January 2017—a shiny New Year—and time for a reality check.
The truth is, I’m a doer. I get an insane amount of things done. I took a personality test one time that labeled me a “Driving Driver.”
Proverbs 31? On it.
Psalm 46:10? I have a long list of super plausible
excuses reasons for why that verse was not written to me. I’d write it out for you, but I have too many other things to do.
Reconciled World’s seventh core principle is “Pursuing God’s Ways.”
There’s one main difficulty, as I see it, with this principle—God said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8).
His ways are not our ways. That means we never get to just sit down, make a plan, and ask God to bless it. We don’t get to make Him an after-thought.
We teach churches and individuals to use what God has given them to serve others.
It’s super easy to read that sentence and move on. Honestly, I’ve read it–I’ve written it–about a hundred times. Can we just take a moment with it, though?
Reconciled World works with people so poor that they forage in the jungle for food several months a year. People whose children are dying from preventable causes. People who went to school until, maybe, third grade. We work with people with autism, who have always been treated like they have nothing to contribute. With people scraping by in the slums of New Delhi–AIDS patients, drug addicts, rag pickers…
We teach them to use what God has given them to serve others.
We love this blog, so we decide to repost it! If you’re looking for a great book to read this summer, this blog might inspire you to pick up the book Anything by Jennie Allen.
Everywhere we work, Reconciled World seeks to nurture truth and confront lies. We firmly believe that the lies of this world separate us from God, create poverty, feed injustice, and hold people in bondage. So we seek to identify those lies and then expose them to the light of truth. The result, by the power of God, is transformation.
The trouble is, our own lies are the hardest ones to identify. They are woven into our culture, our family, our life experiences… They feel like truth. Other people’s lies seem so obvious to us, while our own are slippery and shadowed.
Reconciled World focuses on the vulnerable because we believe The Father focuses on the vulnerable. As we work with local churches, we teach them to look for ways to show love to those around them who are experiencing physical poverty, oppression and injustice–people who are overlooked and hurting.
This focus on the vulnerable has led us to come around those facing rural and urban poverty, girls facing gendercide, and children with disabilities. Every single story we tell is really about God’s heart for the vulnerable. But no one’s life and ministry tells that story more clearly than the Director of Rahham, a ministry to some of the most vulnerable people in New Delhi.
Here’s his story (with thanks to Adrienn for telling it).
Partnering with local churches is so important, but it can be tricky. Sometimes we can end up taking over like the kid who’s determined to get an A in chem-lab despite her remedial lab partner. We think, “This (whatever) needs to go faster, smoother, prettier. If only they’d listen to my ideas and just do them, we would ace this.”
But the truth is, when we outsiders give our ideas and our resources, we aren’t partnering with the Bride of Christ. We’re trying to take over for the Bride Groom. Really–who should they be depending on, looking to for wisdom and provision, thanking and praising when all is said and done? Who knows what’s best for them? Who defines their calling and ministry? Who has power to transform? Not me. Not a donor. Not a church a thousand miles away or a short-term team. Not an NGO.
Reconciled World’s third Core Principle is Integrating Physical and Spiritual.
It means that we acknowledge that people are spiritual and physical beings, all intertwined in a way that there is really no such thing as “spiritual problems” and “physical problems”. So called “physical problems” always affect both our body and our spirit, and our spiritual state impacts our physical reality in a constant feedback loop. Likewise, following Jesus means submitting every aspect of our lives to Him–not just having some kind of “spiritual” experience.
Even though I feel like a broken record (there’s an archaic analogy for you!), I feel like I should point out that we aren’t very unique or creative in this idea. Christians have been faithful to this core principle since the Apostles charged Paul to remember the poor, the very thing he was eager to do (Galatians 2:10).
Reconciled World’s second Core Principle is “Nurturing Truth and Confronting Lies.” In a nutshell, this means that we believe that every culture and community holds onto some truths and some lies. To see a community thrive, we must nurture the truths that exist while exposing beliefs that cause brokenness, poverty and injustice to the light of biblical truth.
Here’s how that played out in a typical village in our Truth Centered Transformation program: