In the 25th chapter of Matthew, we find the following words from Jesus:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
These verses are especially pertinent when it come to the work of many of the students and graduates of the 100 plus seminaries and Bible schools that Overseas Council (OC) partners with around the globe. OC believes passionately in partnering with institutions who believe in a “holistic” view of ministry. Overseas Council has become immersed into the community outreach projects of our partner schools in what we call our “Compassionate Care” (CC) initiative.
So what is a “Holistic” view on ministry? John R. W. Stott wrote, “I now see more clearly that not only the consequences of the commission but the actual commission itself must be understood to include social as well as evangelistic responsibility; unless we are to be guilty of distorting the words of Jesus.” (P23; Christian Mission to the Modern World 1975)
Holistic ministry is simply ministering to the whole body…the wholeness of an individual or the wholeness of a community…not just to meet their spiritual needs but also their physical needs.
I had to condense his statement for space but Dr. David Baer, president of Overseas Council, basically stated it this way. “Holistic ministry is not a technique or a trendy catch-phrase. When we use the term at Overseas Council, we refer to the fact that God’s redemptive purpose takes into account the entirety of his human creatures. He has formed us as creatures of extraordinary complexity. We can speak intelligibly of our spiritual needs or our physical requirements. When we do so, we realize that the deeper truth is that God has created each of us as a complex unity and that he cares for all that we are in every detail and in the composite beauty of all those details functioning together. If this is what holistic ministry presumes to be the case, then it is natural that we find ourselves attracted to ministries that embrace what we take to be a biblical reality.”
PUTTING HOLISTIC MINISTRIC INTO PRACTICE
Many of our partner schools are not just places to learn about God’s incredible love, but also to show His love to the community around them. Overseas Council, through the reach of our partners, is involved in almost 50 Compassionate Care projects around the globe. I would like to highlight a couple of these outstanding CC outreaches as reported in the 10/2010 Connection newsletter.
The Joseph Operation
The ESTES community in the country of Chad, located in the Sahara desert. It is a dry, landlocked country of Central Africa. The lack of rain each year causes the country to suffer from hunger after harvest time when the price of food rises quickly, generally doubling. The ESTES School of Evangelical Theology created a program they call The Joseph Operation.
In 2010, The Joseph Operation, with the aid of CC funds, purchased and stored rice, corn, sorghum, peanuts and beans – close to 40,000 lbs. The project then made food available at any time and a low prices to the ESTES community and teaches them to store food for themselves. Profits from the store will enable the school to buy new products each year and self-sustain. Students are involved in the project’s management and see how to save lives through practical ministry like Joseph did in Genesis 41-47.
Ministry to India Street Children
Children living on the streets, in railway stations, marketplaces and other desperate places in India cities are ignored and rejected. Few people seem to care about their needs; their parents are poor; they are often orphans or they have run away from home, often to escape abuse. They are subject to malnourishment, inadequate sanitation, poverty, illiteracy, substance abuse, child prostitution, sexual abuse and child labor.
A ministry team from the Allahabad Bible Seminary (ABSI) in India is reaching out to children at a railway station in an area of North Delhi. Their goal is to share the love of Jesus, show the children that they are important in God’s sight and develop the children holistically – spiritually, physically, emotionally, psychologically, socially, morally and financially. They started evening classes for the children and now the team is organizing medical camps. Additional support comes from programs including children’s hobbies and teaching them self-employment skills like basket weaving and making greetings cards and paper bags. These skills will enable them to support themselves and their needy families.
Future plans include a missing children bureau; opening bank accounts to encourage saving; monthly celebrations of music, dance, film, food, games and competitions coupled with health education, awareness, water and soap for bathing, and materials to write letters home; a 24 hour facility to provide immediate and short-term services like bathing, healthcare, counseling and contacting home in crisis situations; and a permanent home for street children to receive love, care, education and other needs.
My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
I will highlight some more examples of some wonderful Holistic ministries in later posts so be sure to check back regularly.