One of the beauties of holism is that it moves us beyond a project mind-set.
As we heard about in the last post, a holistic approach gives us a chance to look at life in terms of relationships. What are the broken pieces of each other’s lives? Where do the relationships need reparation? This forces us to change the glasses we are looking at the world through.
It is easy in a fast-paced, urgent, and results-driven society to begin falling into ‘project mind-set’ as we call it. The questions that we ask, and the results that we are measuring, often have more to do with quantitative, tangible data on a project than they do with true transformation. And this observation comes from a lover of data and analytics. While these tools of measurement are highly valuable (and really cool to study and digest I might add), they don’t tell the whole story. A question that we have to ask ourselves as a faith-based nonprofit is – Are we seeing people’s lives and relationships being repaired?
If so, then we are beginning to move beyond a world where we view Africa, Asia, parts of South America, and Eastern Europe as projects that need fixing. Let’s be honest, only God can “fix” and repair the brokenness in these areas, and in our own lives too. We’re still a part of His plan though. We get to be agents for change that (and self-confession here) need reminded to love our neighbors as ourselves.
I don’t want to be viewed as a project for someone to come in and work on. I’d rather have a neighbor care enough to help me find work, to listen to me when I’m frustrated, to make me feel safe, to point me toward the only One who can offer true peace. The same is true of our neighbors around the world. If we can begin to see them as people just like us, who have likely experienced brokenness beyond what we can imagine, we’ll see the true beauty of a holistic approach toward world-missions.
If you visited the blog recently you’ll remember Josh writing earlier this week, “Here at impact49, we’ve decided that giving people a few tools probably helps them with a more holistic approach to being self-sustainable while they focus on church planting.” That word—Holism—caught my attention. What exactly does that word mean? What does Scripture have to say about it? I’d like merely to glance at the concept of holism in relation to development so that we can continue to challenge our hearts and minds with regard to God’s Kingdom and His people.
Bryant Meyers, professor of transformational development at Fuller Theological Seminary writes:
Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings.
What insight! Meyers speaks to the idea that poverty is not simply a financial issue—but it is relational, too. What he means, simply, is that poverty is a result of broken relationships. There are essentially four relationships every human being on earth has at this very moment: relationship with the self, other, creation, and lastly, God. I think this is a wonderful framework for helping us to understand poverty from a Biblical perspective. Since the Fall, all of our relationships have been broken. You and I experience this everyday. We live in a world where broken relationships are the norm. You and I may not notice it as much because although our relationships sometimes suffer, we are insulated by our incredible wealth that helps mask the brokenness. But for those in other regions of the world that worry about the next meal or work from sunrise to sunset just so their family can survive, well, broken relationships abound. In fact, when we talk about the danger for some indigenous people to profess their faith in Christ because of oppressive governments and rulers, we are talking about broken relationships! They are everywhere.
So what does this have to do with Impact49? Well, if we are concerned with impacting lives with the redeeming message of the Gospel, we must be focused on a holistic approach. Our God is a holistic God. He is personal and cares for every relationship you and I ever enter into (with Him, Creation, ourselves, and others). That’s why Impact and Global emphasize giving a multi-tool kit to those in need. We give small-business training, discipleship training, and leadership training because we think that this might get at more than one dimension of a person’s life—it is holistic. Holism is concerned with the whole person. It recognizes that people are more than just the sum of their parts. Take some time this weekend to reflect on what this means both personally, and from an Impact/Global standpoint.