- About WEC
WEC and Community Development
Having such a strong emphasis on church planting has led to some questioning the place of compassion and community development ministries in WEC. Just how does WEC respond to the physical, social or economic needs of people, as well as the spiritual?
We do believe that a healthy and biblical church will naturally seek to meet its community’s needs. In this sense, intentionally holistic church planting is one of, if not the best way to see communities transformed.
On the other hand, we are also vitally involved in caring for children in crisis, literacy and developmental projects, drug rehabilitation, medical, vocational and agricultural ministries to name a few. So why does a church-planting focused mission do all this?
The simple answer is, there is no alternative – if we follow Christ to the unreached frontiers, we have to share and practice the whole gospel. More than any agenda, methodology or calling, our basic motivation seeks to reflect the heart of God and the holistic life and ministry of Jesus. He touched the whole person - mind, body and spirit. He also spoke about corporate structures and attitudes that needed to be redeemed. The gospel is always to be presented in such a way that it is seen as good news, not just for the individual but for the whole community.
This ‘whole gospel’ conversation is nothing new. The Lausanne Covenant (Switzerland, 1974) became a milestone in evangelical history, confidently proclaiming the continued need for evangelism and social responsibility. The Covenant (www.Lausanne.org/covenant) won agreement from Christians of all stripes, and included the memorable phrase, “Evangelisation requires the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.” Christopher Wright, chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group for this year’s October congress in South Africa writes, “The whole gospel means all the blessings of the gospel. We must give full weight to all the dimensions of sin and evil that the Bible in both testaments portrays. And we must proclaim the glories of God’s redemption as his victory over evil in all its dimensions.” WEC agrees with Wright that, “As gospel people we must believe, live and communicate all that makes the gospel staggeringly comprehensive good news.”
WEC’s core objectives are to train and send people to evangelise and plant churches among the remaining unreached people on the earth. This calls for the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all its fullness. Since its earliest days then, “demonstrating the compassion of Christ” has been an integral part of WEC’s church planting focus and values. Many of our teams need more people who can harmonise church planting and social action. Care to talk this through? If so, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. Let’s explore the issues and opportunities together.
It seems to us that social action is a fundamental component in the presentation of Christ. But how WEC individuals and teams express social action is diverse. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear what a variety of missionaries think? Recently we decided to ask them. Here’s a random mix of just some of what WECers think and do...
I think, therefore I do...
Whether it’s running schools, medical clinics, sustainable farming, developing literacy programmes, providing relief and development or cattle for those who have lost all they had, WEC teams are sharing Christ’s love around the world. It is tough and often thankless, but so relevant and necessary. Some of the workers involved are highly trained professionals, others with hearts full of love do what they can – just like Mary did for Jesus (Mark 14:6-8).
Michael and his family are currently seconded to an aid-agency in Central Asia.
“In today's world people are looking for authenticity and this is both refreshing and challenging. Scandals have rocked the church and broken the confidence of many in and outside the church. When looking for authenticity people want to see a truly integrated Christian - one whose words and ideas are consistent with actions that demonstrate the sacrificial, compassionate love of God. At the same time, actions which may radiate kindness but with no mention of the Saviour fail to point anyone in the right direction or give credit to the giver of life. Ministry, under whatever banner we want to put it (church planting, mercy ministries, discipleship etc) must be integrated, whole life and for the sake of the Gospel, authentic!”
Geoff and Heather are Kiwi missionaries reaching out to North African Muslim migrants in the UK.
“We teach English because it's what people want and need. We feel saddened that they cannot integrate into society because of language difficulties, and want them to know that we aren't as scary and weird as they might otherwise believe. We also teach the Bible and English, trusting that in the process they see Jesus in us, want to understand why we do what we do, and get drawn to him as he promised (John 12:32). Jesus commands us to love our neighbours and our enemies. He came down to our level to show us how much he loves us. We long for people who've never heard that message to have the chance to hear it in a non-confrontational way.”
Phyllis Kilbourn is founder of WEC’s “Rainbows of Hope” ministry to children in crisis, now operating in over 10 countries.
“Although WEC has traditionally been a church-planting mission, the heart of WEC’s core value of compassion can be likened to an old song which proclaims ‘Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.’ Today, more than ever, compassionate ministry and worldwide evangelisation must go together.” See www.rainbowsofhope.org for more.
Adrian and his family serve in Asia primarily through radio ministry
“We’ve been doing some hospital visitation as a team and independently. In one case after doctors had done everything they could to no avail, a woman was finally delivered of severe pain as a result of prayer. She was the first family member of a local believer to come to faith. Whenever money is involved things do get complicated and can lead to dependence. Nevertheless we have helped raise money for various people to have surgeries they could not otherwise have had. We've made our share of mistakes that's for sure, but we try to be discerning and want to show the believers (who usually have no resources) that we are a family who naturally help and care for each other. We’re very encouraged to see believers of the other major ethnic group here get involved and take responsibility for some of the financial needs.
“Betel” is a WEC ministry among substance abusers and marginalised, now in over 60 urban areas in 13 nations.
“Betel began in Madrid, Spain, two decades ago when a small group of WEC International missionaries began to care for the needs of a few drug addicts and marginalized people. What began as a spontaneous response to a pressing social need in one local neighbourhood has developed into a coherent, practical and proven program that has brought deliverance to thousands of individuals from many cultures who have struggled with substance abuse and addiction.” The work in Spain recently received the 2009 Daikonia Award for the Most Significant Social Work in Spain. The Minister of Immigration personally thanked the Betel Director for their open heart and practical help extended towards addicts, immigrants and marginalised people, some of whom had lost their jobs and homes in the present economic crisis. See www.betel.org for more.
Jerry and his family work are based in Central Asia
“It helps tremendously that we see what we do as part and parcel of the bringing in of Jesus’ Kingdom. We believe it is a mistake to try and separate ‘word and deed’ and see God as perfectly able to bring in His Kingdom as we function in the organic unity of words and deeds done in the name of Jesus. We seek to build ownership for the projects with the local communities and to increase their capacity to deal with the problems they face.”
Dr Gisela Schneider served in medical ministry in Gambia.
“One day as we sat in the little mud house belonging to “Fatou’s” grandfather, he told us that we could have his sick daughter, and her three children ages six, eight and ten. Perplexed and overwhelmed, I knew I could not take on such a responsibility myself. I called our church leaders who felt strongly that we should take up the challenge to care for both the mother and the children. “Fatou’s” mother had made a commitment to Christ, and the church was her family now... There are no easy answers to the HIV dilemma, but Immanuel means ‘God with us’ – even in the midst of a pandemic of unprecedented proportions. By his grace we can make a difference in the lives of people, communities and a suffering world.”
David and Sue are now based in the UK having served previously in Ghana
“Our focus in Ghana was evangelism and church planting amongst the Konkomba people, who were wide open to the Gospel. However we found that the social projects were an integral part of the ministry. If you work amongst the poor and needy you cannot ignore their physical needs. We found ourselves involved practically in lots of small ways. One Muslim woman came back to thank us for some medical help and said that when she had needs the Muslims hadn’t helped her and it was only we, the Christians who cared about her. Surely this is what the Gospel is about.”