For years the church members of Tu Pi village had waited for someone to come help them. They were extremely poor—at least three months a year they had to scavenge for food. The village was a three-hour walk from the nearest road, meaning that they had little contact with anyone outside their community. The village had no school, no medical facilities, no market, no electricity, no toilets or wells. Gathering water required a two-kilometer walk. With little discipleship, the church members lived much the same way as the rest of the community— growing tobacco and rice to make rice wine. It made life bearable at least.
Then they heard a rumor that there was a program for churches that was causing communities to move out of poverty. They sent representatives to try to find someone to come and teach them the program. However, when they found the trainer, he refused to come—he was doubtful that if he left his motorbike on the side of the road for three days while he did the training that it would still be there when he got back. However, God convicted the trainer, so he agreed to go to Tu Pi and teach Module 1 of the TCT program.
This blog was originally posted in November 2014. We love it so much that we wanted to share it again!
What happens when you arrive at the movie theatre on time? You get the full picture.
Our ‘picture’ starts with Creation and the fact that Adam and Eve were given a task: to be fruitful, fill the earth, and make something of it. This Cultural Mandate is our job description, part of what it means to be human, part of God’s design for us which remains unchanged to this day. Somebody put it this way: “On the last day God created Adam, to pick up where He left off.”
“Your child has a disability”—words that probably no parent would ever like to hear. Being faced with this reality can fill parents with a sense of panic and deep grief at first and can bring with it the fear of the unknown, the difficulties, the struggles and the pain that people generally associate with the word disability.
Even though unofficial statistics in India tell us that 10% of the population has a disability of some kind or another, there is still little guidance here on what to do when one receives such a diagnosis. The devastation and emotional struggle seem even more intense when families do not know where to turn to for encouragement and practical help. As they grapple with this new reality, they often find little support and understanding from extended family members, neighbors, schools, and the larger community.
Why did Jesus die? The answer seems to be obvious: Jesus came to save us from our sins, to save our souls, because He loves us so much. This is what we are told, and this is what we tell others. Getting people saved becomes many people’s first priority as Christians. But is this the only reason why Jesus came to die?
This blog was originally posted in August 2015. Entry one of a six-part series.
“Imagine for a moment how you would feel if you were in their shoes…”
It was a phrase I heard many times as a kid. I remember vividly the birthday party that really helped me grasp this concept.
As a child, I used to spend many weekends and big chunks of my summer vacations at my grandparents’ house in a tiny village in Central Europe. One of their neighbors had a child like I’d never seen before. He couldn’t walk, he always sat in a stroller even though he was around my age, and his limbs looked kind of twisted. We rarely ever saw this family leave their house and there was always an air of secrecy surrounding them. My cousin and I used to peek through the fence to get a glimpse of the little boy soaking up some sun in the yard, mumbling to himself. The father was an alcoholic, and somehow everyone seemed to know the reason. Once they had a second child, the mother would bring her out to play with the other kids, but the boy was always left behind the fence. I remember feeling sad for him and wishing he could come out to join us.
I don’t remember seeing many special needs people in my environment growing up, and it is similar in India. The same sense of shame and secrecy seems to permeate people with disability here today. Society still has a long way to go to accept differently abled people as valuable human beings. According to many people’s opinions and beliefs, disability could be a curse on the family for something they have done or a result of karma, showing that the individual did something punishable in their previous life. This way of thinking leads people to blame the parents and the child, instead of offering help and support.
A small woman in her 50s, Atosi seems like she’s always been a firecracker. She has passionate opinions, a strong sense of determination, and warm, bright, expressive eyes. As I listen to her story, I imagine her as a little baby in a distant town of India, the youngest among four siblings, a daughter not planned. Her mother, one of the only working women in town, went back to her teaching job when Atosi was only 3 months old—a rare phenomenon. A helper, who was taking care of her during the day, kept stealing the milk set aside for little Atosi. The ache of unsatisfied appetite made her develop a habit of thumb sucking for years to come; a habit that brought her much shame and negative attention from her family and others around.
As a little girl, Atosi hated that her mother worked and often compared her with “normal” mothers who stayed at home to take care of their children. She was dead-set on getting married, becoming a housewife and mother, and never working outside the home. She dreamed of a quiet, simple life. But God, having a good sense of humor, made it so that Atosi’s older sisters were not married yet by the time she finished school. Since it would have been culturally inappropriate for her to get married before them, she had to get a job. Her plans for life were not working out as she had imagined.
Recently, we had friends visiting our place and we had good conversations about ministry and life in general. Somehow the topic of loving your neighbor came up, and one of them said that this is one principle he struggles putting into practice the most. I appreciate that he admitted it publicly and, even though I teach this idea everywhere, I have to say that this is also my struggle.
We define ‘our neighbor’ in different ways, but in general, we agree that they are people we encounter everyday, acquaintances and strangers. Interestingly, in the ‘Sermons on the Mount’ Jesus raised this truth to the next level. He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’” (Matthew 5:43).
Of all the different issues we could talk about as we focus on women this month, the one that keeps coming to my mind is the way we women think of ourselves and view other women. The abuse, oppression, objectification and devaluation of women is a priority topic here in India, and most of the time we think about how society in general or specifically men relate to women this way, which, of course, is extremely important. But as I was listening to stories upon stories from the Ending Gendercide team members, the idea that women work against each other kept jumping out at me.
Why is that? Why do we keep undermining each other? Why do we want others to suffer what we have suffered? Why do the different choices or success of other women make us feel threatened and less? Why do women tend to tear each other down instead of building each other up?
As we travel around sharing about the amazing way God transformed hundreds of communities out of poverty, the response is most often, “How can my church/ministry/program see transformation like that?” We regularly lead TCT orientations in Asia and Africa to answer that question. But those of you in the U.S. have been left wondering. We’re excited to let you know that this year at the International Wholistic Missions Conference (IWMC) we will run a track that covers exactly that—a slightly shortened version of the orientation that we run in other nations.
While the Truth Centered Transformation (TCT) program is primarily designed for rural churches in the majority world, the transformational principles that undergird the program are universal. Those principles, what we call the Framework for Transformation, can apply to any program anywhere. Our track at the IWMC will focus on some of the elements of this framework, as well as giving practical “how to” information for getting started with TCT in the majority world.