Stories:

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
THAT RESULTS IN THE DEVELOPMENT
OF A COMMUNITY OF BELIEVERS

I can remember the day vividly. I was invited to be a key note speaker at a Christian Conference in a Muslim State. As I waited in the hotel car park I bumped into a fellow expatriate. I was caught by surprise to see another foreigner so naturally I introduced myself. After exchanging greetings I quickly inquired as to what he was doing in the country. To which he replied, “I do community development”. I immediately followed up by asking what type of Community Development was he involved in. To which he responded, “I do any type of ‘Community Development’ that will result in the ‘development of a community of believers’.”

GLO is Committed to Community Development

Likewise GLO Ministries is committed to “’Community Development’ that will (God willing) result in the ‘development of a community of believers’.” Whilst there are often misgivings in evangelical circles regarding ‘social concern’ there are a two fundamental reasons why GLO Ministries believes that it is important for the believing community to be committed to “Community Development”.

Biblical Reasons

The personal example of Jesus Himself, the application of parables such as the Good Samaritan, plus Jesus’ clear teaching in passages such as Matthew 25:31-46 clearly extol the importance of doing good works to those in need who cross our path.
As in the teachings of Christ, so also in the teachings and example of the Apostles, concern for the poor receives a prominent place. For example in 1 John 3:17 the apostle John insightfully asks, “if anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”
The clear result of the teaching of Christ and His apostles, as well as their personal examples, compels us to be involved in ‘Community Development’,

Missional Reasons

In addition to ‘biblical’ reasons there are also ‘missional’ reasons for being committed to ‘Community Development’. As countries like Australia become more and more “post Christian” there are greater numbers of people in our communities who have little, if any, direct ‘positive’ exposure to Christianity. The direct result of this is that at times it is difficult to find sufficient spiritual “common ground” from which to share the gospel.
This situation is only exacerbated in countries that, due to historical, political and religious reasons, are highly ‘resistant’ to both the ‘message of the gospel’ and the ‘messengers of the gospel’. In ‘closed countries’ such as this it is often a challenge for the believing community to have a significant ‘impact’ because their avenues of ‘contact’ are limited or almost non-existent.
In such settings simple, visible and tangible expressions of genuine practical concern in the form of community development projects can provide opportunities for the development of healthy relationships from which the “good news” can be freely shared.

GLO is also Committed to the Development of a Community of Believers

Whilst GLO Ministries is committed to ‘Community Development’ it is our ultimate hope that these community development projects will result in the ‘development of a community of believers’. The desire that the ‘development of a community of believers’ would come out of all our ‘community development’ initiatives is founded upon two foundational premises.

Biblical Reasons

Whilst an aspect of ‘social concern’ cannot be removed from the ministry of the Lord it is evident that Christ’s concerns went further than “physical”, “material” and “social” matters. If you study the miracles and teachings of Jesus closely you can’t help but come to the conclusion that His ultimate concern was “eternal” and “spiritual”.

For instance whilst on two occasions Jesus fed thousands of people, He did not continue with providing them with an ongoing miraculous supply of food. Instead He used the one off “physical” provision to teach an enduring “spiritual” principle. In fact when the crowd pursued Jesus hankering for more food Jesus said to them “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:26-27). Immediately after that Jesus gave the crowd a personal invitation. He said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

I am not suggesting that “soup kitchens” and the like are invalid expressions of God’s love. What I am saying is that Jesus clearly expressed that the “physical” benefit of temporal food was secondary to the “spiritual” benefit of the people coming to Jesus, the eternal “bread of life”. It is evident then that the Lord’s ultimate priorities were spiritual, and so too should ours be.

Missional Reasons

In the words of Charles Ryrie, Jesus “Himself declared that He came ‘to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19:10). He also came to serve, to teach, to set an example, to show God’s love, but above all, He came, as His primary purpose, to save.”
Christ’s mission, however, does not come to its ultimate end with the salvation of men and women. The ultimate goal of Christ’s mission is the formation of a body of people who will find their ultimate gladness in the greatness of God. That is why Jesus not only declared that He came to “seek and to save the lost” but also repeatedly stated that He came to “glorify His Father” (Jn. 17:1,4; cf. Jn. 13:31; 14:13). Ultimately Jesus saw an intimate connection between “glorifying the Father” and “saving the lost”. David describes that connection eloquently when he declares, ‘May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”’

In view of that, GLO Ministries is not satisfied with ‘Community Development’ alone. In fact we are not ultimately satisfied until there is the ‘development of a community of believers’ who are satisfied with Christ ‘alone’.

Ultimately it is not enough that unreached communities experience the physical and material blessings that flow from the love of God. The love of Christ compels us (2 Cor. 5:14) to invite them to enjoy the spiritual and eternal pleasure of knowing God, who “is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). In so doing they will “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8). Then they will become channels of God’s love gladly declaring to all around them in word and deed that “God is Great” to the glory of God. Which definitively is the ultimate goal of Missions and why GLO is committed to ‘community development’ that results in the ‘development of a community of believers’.

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