Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Balanced evangelism

I struggle sometimes with the tension between "proclamation evangelism", and "presence evangelism". Speaking words that nobody has any interest in is a waste of time, but just being there isn't enough either! So I found these thoughts from members of a Servants of Asia's Poor team in Mexico supremely helpful.

"Through being here we have seen the effect that living in poverty has on people’s self-belief and hope. Poverty is limitating; it entraps people in lies that speak to the very core of their being and robs them of their joy and dreams. If transformation is to come to communities and people trapped in these kind of circumstances, it has
to offer more than just financial gain or improved living conditions. While these things certainly help people to have access to better goods, services and opportunities, they don’t necessarily touch people to their core, and help bring about internal change in how they see themselves and their community. Spiritual transformation, however, has the ability to break down lies and distrust
and build healthy new paradigms and core-beliefs.

This is something that can’t be forced and can’t be achieved by what we do. It is the work of the Holy Spirit guiding and calling a person into new life with God. And it
can achieve true and lasting transformation in a person’s life. Having said this, spiritual transformation has to be wholistic. It has to touch a person’s physical needs as well. As the adage goes: a starving person thinks of nothing but food. So we need to realize that at times the best way to share God’s love with another is by offering them food when they are hungry, clothing when they have none, or friendship when they are lonely. When we fail to seek wholistic transformation our desire to see hope where there is hopelessness will always fall short.

To which I have nothing to add.

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