The debate is still going on as to whether or not we should do any mercy work in majority world countries. There are people that believe that all we should do is Gospel proclamation. They think of orphans the way some people think of geese. Feed them and they lose the desire to go out and search for ‘natural food’.
It thought we put an end to the argument that the only thing the church should do is preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments but I guess I was wrong. One of the reasons this blog was established was to show how integral the mercy aspect of our life together is to witness. But old habits die hard and throw in financial aspects of ministries and the debate may never end.
I did find this interesting however. This is the evaluation of what partner churches need and I found it fascinating. We are speaking specifically of a partner church in Africa so think about these.
- · The many victims of HIV/Aids in villages and cities present a formidable challenge already and will increasingly do so for many years to come. The church can hardly limit itself to information and counselling without initiating diaconal projects to alleviate material needs.
- · Many children of HIV/Aids victims end up in the street, but there are other reasons as well, e.g. ethnic clashes, broken homes, and general poverty. But this ministry needs competence, close coordination and long-term follow-up in order to be effective.
- · Increased focus on Bible teaching and leadership training – on all levels. The growth experienced cannot be sustained unless we train and help new Christians to grow in faith and maturity. Up till 1990 the church was running a flourishing Theological Education by Extension-program. This ought to come alive again together with focused professional training that takes into account higher levels of general education.
· The church needs to direct more attention to its members’ spiritual welfare. There is an urgent need for counselling a guidance of children, youth, families, elderly people, confirmation groups, and marriage counselling.
- · In an initial stage the church was running extensive community development projects, schools and clinics. As society and the economy becomes more developed and diverse, the church can pull out of some of these institutions. But there is still need for smaller projects that do not demand too much administration and finance. The church has a lot of local competence and should utilize it, but there is a need for coordination and pooling of resources.
I have said before to the consternation of some that we don’t need white missionaries in East Africa. We need teachers and mercy work helpers. They are capable of doing their own mission work. They need partners to work together with them on the massive human care issues they face. Sniping from vested interests in their own projects is not helpful.