My first experiences in community development taught me one lesson – it’s not as easy as I would like. It always felt like a dance. Sometimes we did see good results but often it felt like one step forward and two backwards. Some of our experiences were great and sometimes we found out that while things can improve in one area, it doesn’t necessarily mean a life transformed. For example, more money doesn’t always mean better educated children, it may mean parents buying more alcohol.
In only three years of community development work I was already starting to ask if I had missed something, was there another way of addressing the needs that we saw around us. Around that time I attended a conference. One of the conference speakers, Bob Moffitt of Harvest Foundation shared three truths.
- The world is seriously broken. Human wisdom and material resources cannot heal it.
- Healing for a nation or society comes as God supernaturally intervenes in history and His people respond in obedience and live as He instructs (1 Chronicles 7:14).
- The Bible is God’s revelation for our healing.
I remember sitting in the conference feeling a little stunned. For at least a year, I stewed on the question, “What would happen if we started with the Bible as our guide for understanding how to address poverty, rather than starting with best practices?” What would we do differently and what would be the result?
We tried it. Hundreds of communities moved out of poverty. God did miracles. It is quite the story – you can read more of it here.
I certainly wasn’t the only person asking those questions and trying to apply those ideas. They form the foundation of all that Reconciled World is. Over the years we have refined our ideas and defined seven core principles (not-coincidentally, they are all from the Bible) that we believe are key to our work if we are to see true transformation.
Our Seven Core Principles:
- Depending on God – at the end of the day it’s God who transforms. We need to be looking to him for wisdom and supernatural intervention. Billions of dollars and millions of experts are just not enough. (And we don’t have access to either of those anyway. We definitely need a better plan)
- Nurturing Truth and Confronting Lies – In our fallen world, every society is undergirded by both truth and lies. If it were all lies the society would wipe itself out. However, there are truths, such as the equal value of women, that are often missing. We need to both nurture the truth that we do see and counter the lies that exist.
- Integrating Physical and Spiritual – We see physical and spiritual issues as so integrated that it’s hard for us to categorize problems or solutions as exclusively one or the other. A simple example is God healing someone. You can’t really put that in the physical or spiritual bucket exclusively. This also affects the way that we look for answers – we don’t believe that “material” problems have only material solutions nor do “spiritual” problems have spiritual solutions. Since we are whole persons, with souls firmly attached to bodies, every experience affects us both physically and spiritually.
- Partnering with Churches– Jesus describes the church as His body and bride. It is the way that He reveals Himself and His chosen instrument for His involved in the world. It would be hard to imagine teaching dependence on God, nurturing truth, and integrated physical and spiritual solutions without the church involved.
- Focusing on the Vulnerable – God again and again in scripture reveals His heart for the vulnerable. We want to reflect that passion.
- Mobilizing Local Resources – while we definitely believe in international giving (in fact, please give now!), we see it as a way to match what local churches and communities are doing themselves. We all have been commanded to give, we don’t want to take that joy or blessing from anyone.
- Pursuing God’s Ways – there is endless temptation to fall into unhealthy practices based on our own human wisdom. We want to constantly remind ourselves that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55), and we need to constantly seek God through prayer, scripture, and wise Christian advisors.
All together these principles make the framework that we all strive to apply in our work. It’s a process, and we are not perfect. Over the next seven months we will blog a bit about what they actually look like in action. Do drop by on the last Monday of every month to read stories of what is happening. In our approach, you can also find more detailed information about each principle.