I recently wrote an article for Neue Magazine on the growing number of churches taking a different and even revolutionary approach toward impacting the world. These churches are choosing to move away from simply supporting fractional missionaries and are instead opting for long term strategic partnerships. I believe this is the future of Global Mission work.
You can read the entire article HERE.
In preparation for the piece, I interviewed three leaders from three different organizations. Each of these leaders and the organizations they represent are doing great, life changing work in various places around the world and they are doing it by building strategic partnerships with the local church.
Over the next few days I will post the highlights of these interviews in an effort to share a deeper understanding of both the organizations I interviewed and the impact strategic partnerships can have.
This first interview is with Justin Narducci from Life In Abundance International.
Q: Tell me a bit about LIA?
A: We began as an experiment of our President, Dr. Florence Muindi many years ago. Dr. Muindi is a physician from Kenya who is trained in public health and as a cross-cultural missionary.Much like a mustard seed, this experiment has been grown by God in ways previously thought unimaginable. Right now, we are working on managing this growth in healthy and sustainable ways that serve more people, churches and communities - effectively.
[At LIA we believe in an approach to health that addresses man’s whole being. That is why we spell holistic with a “w.” Our vision of life in abundance is one of wholistic health that integrates physical, mental, social, economic and spiritual well being. We believe that spiritual well being is central to the total health of people. The strategy of our Wholistic Model is to equip local churches that already work directly with poor communities and empower them through visioning sessions, community organizing and leadership development.]From the LIA website.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge or hurdle to overcome for LIA?
A. The short-answer is mindset.
In the communities where we serve or seek to serve, the result of poverty has created extremely difficult hardships and has caused desperate people to do desperate things. Historically, there have been many well-intended initiatives seeking to relieve suffering, but have instead created a sense of dependency among the population they originally intended to equip.
In the Western world, we have great intentions but often our intentions exceed our understanding of what things actually work. In our desire to good we have unintentionally done some real damage around the world. The western church needs to find ways to help with out doing more long-term harm by creating unintentional dependencies.
Q: What does the American Church need to understand about the “widows & orphans” you work with?
A: Typically, we (the American Church) see a need and want to meet that need. This is relief work and it is necessary – a child is without parents, the child is homeless, let’s build an orphanage. But at the same time we also need to be exploring the root causes behind why these children are becoming orphans. We need to then devise long-term, effective solutions to addressing the entire problem . I would call this development work. Development work is messier; it requires certain technical skills and and has an increased level of complexity.
Bottom line: It takes longer and we feel less good about ourselves because the gratification takes place over generations and not simply within a meal being served to a hungry child. Development is what breaks the cycles that created the orphans in the first place.
Q: Do you think the American church has a roll in long term, hands on partnerships in places like Africa?
A: When the American church looks at the "widow and the orphan" I want them to be moved to respond, but I want them to do so in a way that realizes their response is not simple and is likely only the tip of the iceberg. Billions of dollars and millions of good intentions have been spent in relief work, but we all know that 90% of the iceberg is underneath the surface. Our investments in orphans and widows should follow suit.
Q: What does the future of Global Mission work look like to you?
A: There are a few major trends that I really like:
- Physical and spiritual integration in mission. Dualism, in either fashion (just focusing on spiritual health or physical need) is commonly being understood as falling short of God’s heart and Jesus’ model of ministry.
- Indigenous ownership of the mission. Long-term missionaries will now be going to train and equip local leaders, not to serve communities in perpetuity. There has been an awakening to the effectiveness and appropriateness to empowering nationals in ministry.
- Partnership in mission. The global Church is going to work arm and arm, putting aside years of paternalism and Western exceptionalism to realize our common brokenness and passion to see God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. There won’t be room in this equation for heroes or Christians wanting to write a memoir – just broken people who can serve effectively by serving together.
Q: How can the Local Church in America best help you and the work of LIA?
A: We believe LIA is simply joining Christ in the work He is already doing in the world. In fact, this really is the call of the Church, both individually and collectively – to be Christ on earth – guided and sensitive to the Spirit in all things. Therefore, we are predominately supported by local churches and believers in America who want to join us in this unique ministry approach.
If you are interested in learning more about Life In Abundance International please visit their website.