Founder’s Story

Poverty is complex. It didn’t take me long to learn that. As a young development worker, I was involved in doing all the usual programs—vocational training, micro-enterprise loans, school building. However, the results weren’t exactly breathtaking. A few people were helped, but it was far from the transformation I dreamed of.

To be honest, I was skeptical that this would be enough to truly see lives and communities transformed. I wrestled with the ideas for four years. Finally, I was determined to test what would happen if we taught a biblical worldview to extremely poor churches and encouraged them to love their neighbors through small actions. Would they and their communities really be able to move out of poverty? Or after doing all they could, would they still need an outside organization to help?

I wanted to start with a small, easily-managed experiment. I wrote some curriculum (now called Module 1) based on these ideas, found a trainer, and asked her to find 10 churches who were willing to participate. After four months with no contact, the trainer turned up again and proudly announced that she had found partners in the poorest areas—food was scarce, there were no latrines or wells, and very few people could read or write. Furthermore, she had already trained pastors and leaders at 160 churches, and they were ready for more! Not quite the small experiment I had imagined.

In 1999 I attended a conference where my understanding of poverty—its causes and solutions—was turned on its head. Three ideas stood out: (1)Beliefs are powerful, they determine our behavior. To see lives changed we need to help people have a biblical worldview. (2) We need to challenge the church to do small actions to show God’s love to their community, and (3) God cares about every area of life. Every part of our life should be lived for God’s glory.

To be honest, I was skeptical that this would be enough to truly see lives and communities transformed. I wrestled with the ideas for four years. Finally, I was determined to test what would happen if we taught a biblical worldview to extremely poor churches and encouraged them to love their neighbors through small actions. Would they and their communities really be able to move out of poverty? Or after doing all they could, would they still need an outside organization to help?

I wanted to start with a small, easily-managed experiment. I wrote some curriculum (now called Module 1) based on these ideas, found a trainer, and asked her to find 10 churches who were willing to participate. After four months with no contact, the trainer turned up again and proudly announced that she had found partners in the poorest areas—food was scarce, there were no latrines or wells, and very few people could read or write. Furthermore, she had already trained pastors and leaders at 160 churches, and they were ready for more! Not quite the small experiment I had imagined.

Within 18 months God expanded the project to 60 trainers working with 600 churches. The experiment now felt frighteningly real. With only 10 churches, I was confident that I could provide resources when they ran out. With 600 churches, it was clear I couldn’t fund big projects. Either God’s truth was going to be enough, or it was all going to fail spectacularly.

The short story is, God did bring transformation. Over the course of ten years, churches took what they learned from the trainings and applied it. They reached out to their communities with things like helping people in their fields and cleaning up litter. Then larger projects—building wells and houses and roads. In the midst of it all, God showed up with miracles like land that produced more crops, entire communities being healed of addiction, and once-hostile government officials suddenly helping believers.

So far, God has lifted more than 600 communities out of poverty—there is no more hunger or preventable disease, all the children go to school, domestic violence has ended, and churches are strong. These communities continue to flourish, years after graduating from the program, as churches continue to serve.

So far, God has lifted more than 600 communities out of poverty.

God was also at work in me and my husband during these critical years, teaching us (often the hard way) the biblical principles that are now called the Framework for Transformation. The Lord showed us time and again that it was not the structure or curriculum of TCT, but the principles that undergird the program, that made the way for God’s transforming work.

When we came together with the other founding members of Reconciled World to begin the journey as a new organization, we all agreed that the principles of the Framework for Transformation must be at the heart of the ministry. Over time, new members have joined the community, also seeking to align themselves with the Framework. Each member seeks to live out these principles through unique programs relevant to their diverse circumstances. Our hope is to be a mosaic—a picture to show that there are many ways God is at work in the world and that transformation is not about a formula but faithfulness. Our faithfulness to obey God’s word. But much, much more, His faithfulness to His promises and His people.

By | 2017-09-27T17:50:21+00:00 August 30th, 2017|Categories: Featured Story, Story Library|

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