Our approach to community health and development
by Stan Rowland.
Many Christian groups are concerned with meeting either spiritual needs or physical needs.
What are our priorities as Christians? What can we learn from the Bible on this subject?
What were Jesus’ priorities?
Read Luke 4:18-20. Here Jesus, for the first time, introduces why he came. This was also written about in Isaiah 61:1-2, hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus. What are the reasons which Jesus gives for his coming? Are they more to do with people’s spiritual needs, or their physical needs - or both?
What are our priorities?
Christian community development must be based on what Jesus said and did.
Read Luke 10:27. How are we to love God? What does it mean to love our neighbours as ourselves? Are we truly concerned with their welfare, both physical and spiritual?
Jesus was concerned about the whole person. He healed the sick as he preached and taught. We too must share his concern. When Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to minister to others, he commanded them to heal the sick and to be concerned for the physical needs of others as they preached the good news of Jesus Christ.
How should we put this into action?
Read Matthew 28:19-20. This is known as the ‘Great Commission’. It is not optional for us as Christians - it is a command! If we follow this command, all of us who are involved in community health and development also need to be involved in sharing our faith and making disciples.
I believe that social action (through community health and development) and evangelism are intertwined and should not be separated. One without the other is incomplete.
Dr Gordon Moyes at Amsterdam ‘83 made the following comparisons: ‘Evangelism without social action is irrelevant to human need. Social action without evangelism is flowers without fruit. Together word and deed become the most powerful commitment, relevant and responsible both to our Lord and to our neighbours.’