I am sure we all resonate with the words of the prophet Isaiah “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News…” However, in this world of so much political, economic, social and ideological unrest, the question of how we bring that Good News must be re-visited. Is a traditional missional approach based primarily on proclamation evangelism, still putting our best “foot” forward? I think we need to take a hard look at how we can win the right to be heard in cultures with a spiritual ideology very different from our own. What does it mean to develop long-term social credibility so that your proclamation will one day be welcomed and your thoughts and ideas embraced, because you have established the trusting relationships of the community at large?
In the remote, impoverished and civil war-torn region of Ouelle, Ivory Coast, one of our indigenous partners gathered 870 women from twenty-one different villages and began a savings and credit association. They were able to help each other with micro-loans and many small businesses began to flourish. Through Dominique’s leadership these women developed a business plan to purchase, use, and maintain a grain mill which cut their manual labor of grinding grain from five hours down to five minutes per day. With this dramatic increase in available time, these women can now sell excess flour, provide for their children’s medical needs, and begin a literacy program where 600 illiterate women and their children are now learning to read and write using the Bible as their textbook.
The astounding fact is that only 2% of these women were Christians when they first gathered. 63% were animists, and 35% were Muslim. They came together because they all shared the same real physical needs, and this new community gave them very tangible ways to not only survive, but to learn and grow, and to seek the peace and prosperity of those around them. They are all now reading and hearing the Good News on a daily basis and have experienced Christ, incarnationally through Dominique and the other believers whom they are now in relationship with.
As you consider your own ministry context, what would it look like to enter your target community in an incarnational way? How beautiful are your feet to the community in which you are ministering? What is your “lead foot”, and how are you winning the right to be heard? This is obviously a long-term approach, and doesn’t make for impressive evangelism statistics, in the beginning… However, I believe wholeheartedly that the eventual results will be immeasurably more than we can possibly imagine and the Kingdom of God will advance in ways that are truly transforming the entire community!
Please feel free to respond to these weekly Breakthroughs in Missional Thinking, we need your voice in this ongoing dialogue about how the Christian Church engages in missions in this rapidly changing world and culture.
Director of Global Leadership Development