The Gospel: The Only Answer
In the gospel of Jesus Christ, we find the ultimate solution to humankind’s broken relationship with God. Though we were alienated and hostile in mind toward God and irreversibly bent toward destruction, we have been reconciled to Him through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The root problem is the nature of our hearts, which we are completely incapable of changing. But Jesus has made transformation possible. It is from this pure seed that every good thing our hearts and communities dream of can become true. It is because of the gospel that the sad things of this world can be made untrue.
World Relief, the ministry where I work and serve has a phrase that resonates deeply with me: “God longs for the Church, the most diverse social network on the planet, to be at the center of …stories of holistic transformation (social, spiritual, economic).” This is the crux of transformation. God is living out His eternal plan for redemption and reconciliation through His Church. Though many times, due to our own frailty and brokenness, the Church does not seem like the most natural or strategic way for God to accomplish His purposes, it is God’s “Plan A” in bringing His reconciliation to this world1.
At our Durham, N.C. World Relief site, where I am the Executive Director, we have struggled through the process of engaging with our partners in the local church to bring the transformation we have received in Christ among the most vulnerable among us. Every one of the principles we operate from centers on the gospel of Jesus Christ, flowing from it and leading to it. But the gospel is not just an idea that we hold to: It is how we seek to live.
Becoming a Proclaiming/Demonstrating Community
At World Relief, another principle that drives our work is a term we call Integral Mission, or the balanced blending of ministry in Word and Deed. If we focus exclusively on one or the other, our work becomes unbalanced and unhealthy results occur. But when what Jesus has done for us saturates our lives, and our hearts overflow with intimacy and surrender to Him, the natural result is an overflow of healthy service. We are able to transfer the treasure we have been given to others who are walking a path of brokenness we are so very familiar with.
A firm grasp on the Gospel’s impact in our lives is the key – and it works. In our context here in the Triangle, NC area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill), we have seen exponential growth in our partnerships with local churches. Hundreds and hundreds of individuals are leveraging their lives in direct, empowering relationships with the newcomer or foreign-born communities we are working in.
This is just the beginning, though. At World Relief Durham we have only impacted a small portion of the communities who are in our midst. But the vision God has given us is potent, and we are beginning to witness exponential growth in our partnerships and engagement with the communities in which we serve together. There is no true transformation apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we are witnessing this transformation every day – within ourselves and those around us.
- To learn more about World Relief Durham, and its work in the Triangle, NC, visit www.worldreliefdurham.org
1 – J.D. Greear – 35 Values I Wish I had Possessed When I Started Pastoring. http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2011/11/plumblines-36-values-i-wish-i-had-possessed-when-i-started-pastoring-10-years-ago.html
- Relocation – living among the people
- Reconciliation – between people and God as well as between people
- Redistribution – just distribution of resources
- Leadership Development – developing leaders from the community
- Listening to the Community – hearing the dreams, ideas, and hopes from the community as well as the needs
- Church-Based – development taking place through the local churches
- Wholistic – pursuing wholistic restoration, not partial restoration
- Empowerment – empowering the community to meet their own needs
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