Monday, December 28, 2015

Poverty, Evangelism, and Social Action

Evangelism versus Social Action which is more important? This is a trick question because the “two hands” must be used together. Evangelism without social action is empty of practical meaning, while social action without evangelism is empty of eternal meaning. Most importantly, follow Jesus’ lead in which hand needs to be extended first and how it is to be used.

The vision for Christian community development is that of bringing lasting change in a community as a visible transformation in Christ’s name and for His glory. Through this we can see both human need alleviated and His mission accomplished on an enduring, not artificial level.

In offering aid to those stricken with poverty we must be careful not to be received as “rice Christians;” that is, those who would offer aid as inducement to pressure people to convert to Christianity.

There are two kinds of Poverty:

Relative Poverty is when a person/people are on the margins of a given society, thus their standard of living is compared to the others in the community or nation. *

Absolute Povery is when people have absolute insufficiency to meet their basic needs (food, shelter…etc)*

Poverty in terms of broken relationships, misuse of power, and fear:

Broken Relationships: broken relationships are at the root of the ills and grief of the poor. Seeing the world through the gospel in terms of relationships gives us a whole new view-Christ commands us to love God AND love our neighbor as ourselves.

Misuse of Power: those in higher positions of power often abuse this leading to more impoverished “lower” people. No amount of community or political action can change this, we must use the transforming power of the gospel.

Fear: fear, spiritual, or of worldly powers is disabling especially to those who view themselves as having no power. This fear can be dispelled ONLY by faith in the Son of God and His power which is more powerful than anything one might fear, or even the fear itself.

“Community developers aim to enable local people to mobilize local resources to meet basic needs in an enduring way throughout an entire community.”**

The Christian Transformational Development approach to human need is different in that is aimed at changing entire communities FOR CHRIST in a lasting way that will glorify Him, not simply relieve the immediate human need.

*Perspectives On the World Christian Movement Study Guide

** Mr. Voorhies