This blog was originally posted in September 2015
Partnership is one of those tricky words that gets thrown around a lot. And it can mean different things to different people and organizations. Since one of Reconciled World’s Core Principles is “Partnering with Churches,” we want to take a few hundred words to unpack what we mean by partnership.
Just to be clear, Reconciled World is a community of programs that apply biblical truth to brokenness in a wide range of circumstances. We have all committed to the principle of partnering with churches, but that doesn’t mean we all do it perfectly or identically. We are all at different places on the journey. But we are all striving for the same goal–that the church would take its rightful place at the center of God’s transformational plan.
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.
This blog was originally posted on January 8, 2015.
Every year I seem to make the same new years resolution. It always has something to do with drawing closer to God. Basically doing better at John 15:4, “remaining” in him. This year is no different.
John 15:4: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
What does it mean to remain in God?
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:
“Our fears, anger, and anxiety reveal the gods we trust, serve, and worship in place of the true God.”
– Alfred Poirier, The Peacemaking Pastor
One of Reconciled World’s core principles is “Depending on God.” In truth, this principle is core to all Christians everywhere. (Hey, we never claimed to be cutting edge.)
The fact is, all of us depend on God whether we want to or not. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) We literally wouldn’t be breathing without God holding us together. But…let’s be honest, breathing *feels* like something I can handle on my own. I often forget my state of total dependence.
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.