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Tearfund is a Christian organisation and our faith is the foundation of our vision. We examine our work through a number of professional lenses – quality standards related to humanitarian and development work, financial accountability and transparency – to ensure that Tearfund is working to the highest possible standard. As a faith-based organisation it is equally important for us to apply the lens of theology. 

About our theology

Jesus called and commissioned the church to participate in God’s mission to redeem and restore all of creation. In his ministry he shared God’s love through his words, his deeds and his character, and he sought to transform the lives of the people he met in whatever way they needed most. Sometimes this involved healing them, sometimes it involved feeding them and sometimes it involved talking to them about the things that were wrong in their lives. He valued and served the people he met in ways that enabled them to begin living a full life. Jesus’ life shows us what restored relationships and life in the kingdom of God will look like. His ministry shows us that mission is holistic.

As Christians we are commissioned to take Jesus as our example and to ‘go and do likewise’ (Luke 10:37). As we join the body of Christ, we are transformed to be more like him and to do the things he did, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and this is seen in all areas of our lives. It is a prayerful and God-guided way of life that seeks to contribute to whole-life transformation of the individuals and communities that we serve. 

What does this mean for Tearfund’s work?

The Bible tells us that the body of Christ has many parts and that its members are called and gifted to participate in God’s mission in different ways. Tearfund was established to enable the church to respond to poverty and disaster and it is in this work we seek God’s justice, restoration and transformation. In all of our work we seek to discern how to share the good news of God’s love in ways that are sensitive to the realities of the places in which we are working and the lives of the people we seek to serve. 

Tearfund recognises that poverty is the result of a social and structural legacy of broken relationships with God, damaged understanding of self, unjust relationships between people, and exploitative relationships with the environment. Our theology of mission expresses Tearfund’s belief that God’s love is for everyone, and that the promise of the gospel is the hope of the restoration of these relationships at a human and cosmic level. This promise is offered to everyone, regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender, and Tearfund’s work follows this biblical principle as we seek whole-life transformation for the people we serve. Our understanding of poverty describes the change we believe God wants to see in the world and explains how Tearfund and the church — as well as other parts of society — are a part of this transformation.

Poverty is the result of broken relationships – but these relationships can be restored.

It’s annoying how easily we break things. And what good is something that’s broken? But what about the things we break that we can’t throw away?

The person we reject; the friend who betrays us. The situation we mess up; the lies we tell; the people we hurt.

When it’s played out on a global scale, it does more than just cause us pain as individuals. Communities, cities, nations suffer and struggle, compete and even fight. And this brokenness damages the planet itself. We are careless with this precious earth, we are greedy for all it gives. Natural resources are used up and fought over; the earth groans and suffers.

At the heart of all this brokenness, we believe, is our broken relationship with God, who made everything in love, and made it good. We have pulled away from him and from his ways, and we are left diminished, unsure of who we are or what we can do.

This is where poverty comes from. 

Poverty isn’t just a lack of money; it is a deep brokenness in the world that we experience in all kinds of ways. In hunger and insecurity, thirst and a lack of education, loneliness, sickness, violence and hopelessness. Our relationships with each other are damaged. Our relationship with the physical world is damaged, even our relationship with ourselves because we don’t know who we are or where we belong. And at the heart of it all, is our broken relationship with God.

All of us are affected, but some of us suffer more than others. What do we do with so much brokenness? Is that just the way it has to be? We don’t believe that. We believe that God has always been interested in mending things. And in Jesus God came close and showed us how. Jesus doesn’t just patch things up. The cross and the resurrection make possible a whole new creation – not by throwing the old things away but by redeeming and restoring them. And as we continue to be restored and healed…and our relationships are restored, 

God invites us to join his work. 

We get to be a part of the ministry of reconciliation and restoration - and it transforms all of those broken relationships. With others, with the physical world, with ourselves, and with God. It’s a ministry that is bigger than us, and it is bigger than Tearfund. This is God’s story and God’s work. And one day we believe it will reach its climax when Jesus returns and ushers in a life of wholeness for everyone once more. 


Further documents on the theology of integral mission are available from these websites:

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Want to know more about integral mission?

Take our e-learning course to discover how to follow Jesus by restoring broken relationships and responding to poverty

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