Thursday, August 13, 2009

Poverty Alleviation: The Ministry of Reconciliation Approach

Therefore, if poverty is the result of relationships that fail, what should be our ministy approach to alleviate poverty? Many of my contemporaries would say that we should have a ministry of transformation. However, I tend to disagree. Not that I do not want to see transformation of individuals and communities. I just believe that we do not have the power for transforming people. That power only lies with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. What I do believe is that our ministry approach in regards to addressing poverty should be the ministry of reconciliation.

The two New Testament root words for "forming" are "schema" and "morphoo". "Schema" forming refers more to the outside form of an object or individual. It's where we get the word "schematics" and is a diagram or representation of the inner workings of something or someone. "Morphoo" forming has more to do with the inner workings and a deep seated change of the essential nature of a thing or individual that expresses itself outwardly as that thing or person being a whole new entity.

Let me illustrate. Growing up, we made "seed" pictures in Sunday School by gluing seeds onto a tracing of an object. One time, we used corn seed to glue onto the outline of a corn plant. When it was finished, if you held it up and looked at it from a distance, it somewhat resembled a corn plant. It was a good "schema" of a corn plant.

However, if I had taken that same seed (which was actually corn) and planted in good soil, watered it and cared for it, eventually, that seed would have formed a young seedling. With more care and attention, it would have grown into a tall, healthy, and most importantly, actual corn plant capable of producing thousands of other seeds and plants. My point is anyone can glue seeds on a drawing and make a corn plant, but only God can make the living plant happen. This is the difference between "schema" forming and "morphoo" forming.

I propose that if we really want to see transformation, we had better concentrate on the ministry of reconciliation: man to God, man to fellow man, man to creation and man to himself. God doesn't expect us to transform anything; He does call us to be reconcilers...

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Chrsit and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

Transformation - the goal...

Reconciliation - the task entrusted to us...

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