May the God of Hope fill you with all the joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with the hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)
The New Year has given me cause to pause and reflect upon what our 73-year-old mission has accomplished. More specifically, to analyze whether our approach to development has been effective and whether it is still relevant today.
In 1943, Partners USA (then known as China Native Evangelistic Crusade) was created to support missionary Calvin Chao of China. The Boxer Rebellion, followed by Communism, forced foreign missionaries to flee, and Partners recognized the strategic importance of supporting nationals in closed countries hostile to Christianity. This radical idea birthed a global mission movement in support of local leaders.
In the 70’s, a new mission concept emerged called “Integral mission or holistic mission” by members of a South American evangelical group, to describe an understanding of Christian mission which embraces both evangelism and social responsibility. The term was used to describe a more holistic understanding of Christian mission that affirms the importance of expressing the love of God, and neighborly love, through every means possible. This radical idea was exemplified in Jesus’ own ministry. The International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne in 1974, affirmed that:
“God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men from every kind of oppression… we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive.”
In the late 80’s, at a mission conference in Brazil, another concept emerged known as the ‘10/40 Window’. Coined by Partners International CEO Luis Bush, to refer to those regions of the eastern hemisphere, plus the European and African part of the western hemisphere, located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator. This radical idea helped focus a new wave of Christian mission on an area purported to have the highest level of socioeconomic challenges, the least reached and resourced people on the planet.
Since our inception we have created catalytic mission movements and achieved remarkable Kingdom outcomes that well outstrip the size of our small organization. As an early mobilizer, an unprecedented number of local missionaries have been trained, and churches have been planted among 100’s of unreached people groups.
The beauty of the Partners International model lies in the strength of its mission pillars, namely; Partnership with local Christian leaders, reaching the Unreached (10/40 Window), going to the least resourced areas, and an Integral approach. This holistic mission is what I fell in love with four and a half years ago when I left the corporate sector to join Partners International.
Our mission statement reads, “Bringing Canadians into partnership with indigenous-led Christian ministries to advance the Kingdom of God”. But this is not complete until you add our vision statement, “To transform the least resourced areas of the world through the holistic power of the gospel”.
“Every human need…may be used by the Spirit of God as a beachhead for the manifestation of His kingly power. That is why in actual practice, the question of what comes first, evangelism or social action is irrelevant. In every concrete situation the needs themselves provide the guidelines for the definition of priorities. As long as both evangelism and social responsibility are regarded as essential to missions, we need no rule of thumb to tell us which comes first” – Rene Padilla
Today more than ever, I am convinced that the power of partnership remains undiminished, that affirming and empowering local leadership is essential for long-term sustainability, and that holistic or integral mission is the most effective way to reach the least reached and resourced places on the planet.
As we look forward to 2017 and beyond, I remain steadfast that God continues to call Partners to pursue a radical mission path in reaching those in the greatest spiritual, economic and social poverty. He commands us to help bring restoration, redemption and reconciliation, which is so relevant in today’s broken world.
Thank you for being on mission with us!