Abundant Life in the Desert

...a journey with the Bowden Family



Posted on July 17, 2017 at 9:25 AM


 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

A little while ago I went out to visit with some believers in a village where we have a church.  While visiting with some of the Christians I greeted some of their friends and families as well.  I asked them what they thought about the church since it had come to their village.  One of them responded by saying that even though he had not become a Christian, that since the church had come to their village, the average standard of living and quality of life had increased for everyone!  Wow!  You see, the Gospel has a transformative power that affects culture (beliefs/perspectives/thoughts/attitudes/actions) from the inside out.  Even the not-yet-believers in this village realized the fact that the church had brought a positive change to their society just by being present!

The Gospel has the power to bring change in every aspect of our lives and communities around the world.  The DNA of the Gospel is powerful and changes culture at its very core.  The church is called to be on a mission to initiate and bring this transformation into the world in every area of society.  Our prayer as the church is to be “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come,  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

Anyone who has been overseas will understand that there are many “projets” or “NGO’s” around the world today.  NGO stands for “Non-Governmental Organization” and many of these organizations are supported with Government funds from their host countries.  These NGO’s are sent to meet specific problems in the world whether it is helping with famine or medical relief, education, well drilling and other aspects of poverty to just name a few.

A bit crude but basic and effective way to understand most Government funded international NGO’s or Projet’s for someone who has not traveled overseas would be to look at the federal welfare programs that are available in the States.  These programs exist to meet physical needs SEPARATE from meeting the spiritual needs in society.  In this day and age most employees of Government programs are specifically told to not share their personal religious beliefs or proselytize while on the “job”.  “Forcing” your personal beliefs on someone else while on the clock can mean instant job termination or even a lawsuit.  So the primary mission of these programs can be summed up as trying to meet a physical need without addressing the underlying spiritual condition. 

Another good thing to understand is that when an organization receives funding from the Government, that particular group loses its right to share its personal beliefs.  Basically, when an NGO receives Government foreign aid, it has to also represent the beliefs of that Government.  Some large aid organizations that were founded upon Christian beliefs have gone this route and have compromised the ability to do their good works in the name of Jesus.

As Christian missionaries serving in one of the poorest nations on earth, we see many organizations that come to meet physical needs with a lot of funding from various Government organizations around the world.  But many times these organizations treat the visible symptoms rather than the root problem.  Kind of like a band aid that covers an infected cut and provides a temporary solution, but can never really offer a permanent answer and bring healing to the underlying problem. 

As an example one year we experienced famine because of a terrible harvest.  Once this became world news millions of dollars was sent in foreign aid to help buy and distribute food on a large scale.  The only problem was that the aid came a year after the famine and just after another harvest which happened to be a bumper crop.  Many good self-sustaining business and food programs at this time either went out of business or were driven out of the country because of the free or discounted food prices.  So temporarily people had food but when the foreign aid money ran out, and the self-sustaining businesses were no longer in operation, the poverty and lack of food returned.  A band aid to a deeper issue in society. 

A better way is to teach people how to farm God’s way and to do it alongside of them.  We have local friends who do not experience the yearly famine as much now because they have adopted better ways to farm that are Biblically and scientifically proven to increase the yield.  Biblical approach includes teaching on how to have a good work ethic and to not be lazy, how to think long term and to fertilize the fields in preparation for next year’s planting, how to keep seed from the previous year to plant the following year, etc…  But this better way has taken, and continues to take, other long-term missionaries generations of living alongside and helping “disciple” farmers to impart this knowledge to them.  Praise the Lord for Christian missionaries who have had agricultural training that have given their lives to help farmers see a better way to live, and to farm.  This is the difference between a band aid fix and a long term solution.  A band aid fix takes a check.  The long term solution takes a life.  We can take many more examples (medical, job training, education, etc..) that show the same thing. When the church – you and I – make the Gospel central in how we live our lives there is a transformative power from God to bring change, hope and life in the darkest situations in society. 

I am convinced that the Lord has called His church to be the one ready to meet the needs and injustices in the world today by realizing that the root problem always comes down to a lack of, or a broken relationship with, Jesus Christ.  Once society is properly aligned with the Lord and with His Word, everything else begins to fall back into its rightful place.

So the question remains for you and I, as the church of the living God, are we engaged in professing Christ in what we say and do and letting the power of the Gospel bring broken relationships back into right alignment with the Lord?  Or do we have a “projet” mentality and are trying to treat the outside problems in society with a temporary band aid?  The name of Jesus does and will offend people.  But Jesus is the only one who has the permanent answer to every need and injustice in the world today.  Are we ashamed of the Gospel?  Are we ashamed of the precious name of Jesus?  The Lord Jesus wants to use you and I to reveal Himself to the world around us.  The world is waiting.  Heaven is waiting.  The church is the only one that has the answer.  His name is Jesus.  Let the Church arise!


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