I remember the first time I heard the phrase “ideas have consequences.” It’s a powerful idea, but left me initially skeptical. If true, it changes everything. Much of my work in development up until then had been focused on programs bringing skills training. While we had seen results, there was nothing stunning.
We reworked our programs and refocused our efforts in an attempt to find out what difference it would make to focus on teaching biblical truth (the long story is here). The impact was amazing. As churches and communities understood God’s truth and started to apply it, God lifted them up out of poverty. Miracles happened and lives were changed. Truly the verse, ‘If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chr 7:14) happened before our eyes.
Having experienced the power of biblical truth in so many of our programs, today our mission is to ‘Apply biblical truth to the brokenness in all areas of life.’ We believe that biblical truth, applied to any type of brokenness—violence against women, mistreatment of those who are differently abled, material poverty—is powerful. It can break down lies that both hold the individual in poverty and systems that have been built on those lies.
All which leaves the question—what truth? What do we mean by the phrase Biblical Truth? First let me start by staying that we recognise that all truth comes from God—Satan can only lie. Therefore all truth is powerful and beneficial. However we have also chosen to start with twelve truths that we believe most impact our identity and our interactions. These twelve truths cover the areas of ‘who is God,’ ‘who are we’ and ‘what is our relationship with creation.’ We refer to these as the core truths. Two of these truths are:
Made in God’s image—One of the most powerfully destructive lies around the world has been that some people are greater, others are unimportant. Whether the discrimination is on the basis of race, caste, gender or ability—it destroys those who are discriminated against. I remember one ‘untouchable’ in India when asked why they didn’t get a job, explained it was their destiny—they weren’t worthy of work. Millions of women and girls have lost their lives because they were seen as worthless or a burden. In many cultures, differently-abled people are locked away in a room, a source of shame. Systems of exploitation have been set up from slavery to slumlords. Understanding that ALL people are created by God, in his image, with equal value—male or female, slave or free is a truth that transforms lives. As those who have been oppressed begin to sense that they have value, they aim higher and try harder to see life change. As others realize that these people are of equal value to themselves in the sight of God, they are challenged to treat them with humanity and respect. As a result, communities flourish.
Bounty is to be created and stewarded—It’s too easy to believe that God has little concern with regards to how much income we make and how we use that money. How we use our time (aside from Sunday morning) is largely not seen as something that concerns God. And yet the Bible indicates otherwise. Right from the garden of Eden we were given a role, work to do. In the parable of the talents we see that God has given each of us talents and is very concerned with how we invest them. The steward who hid his was not applauded. We are expected to use whatever we have to create bounty which belongs to God and is used in ways that He directs. Imagine if all Christians believed and acted on this. In the rural areas where Christians have embraced this truth they are working their fields with new enthusiasm—aware that it matters to God. The additional profits they make are used to care for their own family, paying school fees and medical expenses—things they could never afford before. They give to those who have less. And as they steward their bounty well, they see it multiply and grow. Similarly, we who have much need to live recognising that every hour and penny we have belong to God. We need to use it all as He intends—not just a small portion.
These are only two of the twelve core truths. As we start to fully understand and embrace each of them, lives are changed. As we rightly see God, ourselves and others as they are, and our relationship to creation correctly, communities are transformed. Biblical truth is powerful.