COMPASSION AS A LIFESTYLE: COMPASSION AS A LIFESTYLE Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, International.
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e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org By Fletcher L. Tink and Josh Falk A Dozen Great Reasons to Give: A Dozen Great Reasons to Give Heard on the news this week was the following story:
A lady pulls up in her limousine to the Salvation Army bellringer and offers the following challenge. “I’ll give you $1,000 if you can give me a reason why I should give to your cause.” The bellringer took up the challenge and after coherently presenting his response, she plunked $11,000 into the kettle.
I am elated for the Salvation Army for a bellringer who, under the gun, could articulate eleven reasons for giving. Furthermore, I am doubly appreciative of the Army’s services, given their compatible Wesleyan-Holiness orientation to that of own.
I also delight in the recognition of many observers, such as financial consultant, Peter Drucker who declares this charitable organization as “the most effective organization in the U.S.” His reasons are documented in a new publication titled, The Most Effective Organization in the U.S.: Leadership Secrets of the Salvation Army, published by Crown Business and written by Robert A. Watson and Ben Brown.
But I swell with pride at the record of our own trio of organizations, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, USA/Canada, International and Inc. These three components of compassion are accomplishing incredible feats. If a surprised bellringer can muster up eleven reasons for his organization, I think that I can come up with a thoughtful twelve for ours. Twelve Reasons to Give:: Twelve Reasons to Give: People’s lives can be changed and transformed by gestures of kindness.
The message generosity conveys is consistent with our Church’s heritage.
Money is not the centerpiece; it is only one resource of many.
Gifts (money and otherwise) are handled with integrity.
Administrative costs involve very low overhead, around 12% of total budget. Human need is incredibly great and growing. Twelve Reasons to Give:: Twelve Reasons to Give: Caring for others is a gesture of fairness; redistribution is Biblical.
Compassionate Ministry opens up new opportunities for public witness. Giving is a central gesture of Christian obedience.
The mechanisms of giving are easy: the United Way, the Combined Federal Campaign (#2018), credit cares, Child Sponsorship and local church giving are all legitimate means of investing in others.
You, yourself, may someday need and receive of the generosity of others. Sharing with others is a gesture of fairness; redistribution is Biblical. Slide5: “I invite you to add your own reasons. Look around for limousines and an anonymous lady who love to give. Maybe she’s ready to ante up some more $1,000 bills as we together articulate some other wonderful reasons to give.” False or Immature Motives for Compassion: False or Immature Motives for Compassion A ‘messianic complex” that one has the answers
An “exaggerated view” about the needy
A “poor self-esteem” that’s enlarged by working with the needy
A “utilitarian” perspective
A “drive for excitement”
A “masochistic attraction”
A “romanticism” about the poor and their needs Examples of Compassion:: Examples of Compassion: Move Over L.A.
The first Nazarenes were an audacious lot who, in their holy euphoria, dared to bite off a big urban chunk of vision. On October 30, 1895, the organizing minutes of what is now the Los Angeles, California, First Church of the Nazarene, the acknowledged “Mother Church” of the denomination, declared, “The field of labor to which we feel especially called is in the neglected quarters of the cities and wherever else may be found waste places and souls seeking pardon and cleansing from sin. This work we aim to do through the agency of city missions, evangelistic services, house-to-house visitation, caring for the poor, comforting the dying. To this end, we strive personally to walk with God and to incite others so to do.”
Knowing Los Angeles First Church intimately, I had the privilege of seeing it come full circle when it returned to that vision in the 1980’s. Under the leadership of Ron Benefiel, the church during those years fashioned its philosophy of ministry to emphasize five concepts. The church’s ministry must be: comprehensive (including all people); holistic (addressing the whole person); contextual (delivering the gospel in forms and ways that are natural to the people who receive it); incarnational (coming from within their worlds rather than from outside); and community-based (recognizing that God’s ultimate healing is best found within the Christian community).
Slide8: The renewed vision worked wonders. Five congregations organized into one church and they throbbed with activity and ministry. The church developed a tag team of services and programs featuring training programs, medical services, youth mobilization, community events, group homes, and evangelism on a dozen fronts. The congregations grew up and together on the cutting edge of creativity. They spun off new ministries: Center City Church of the Nazarene welcomes 350 worshipers in the rescue mission district; Hollywood’s Children of the Shepherd project reaches street runaways; and Los Angeles Exposition Park is located in a transitional Hispanic/Black neighborhood near South Central Los Angeles.
But there is another church that may have “out-Bresee-ed” even founder P. F. Bresee’s vision for Los Angeles First Church. This church does have conventional ministries, including four Sunday services for 2,000 people, a daily prayer ministry with a goal of cells in 500 homes, evangelism and discipleship ministries, visitation to new families and to prisoners, a businessmen’s association, a women’s ministry through music, camps for children and youth, and a soup kitchen that fed 30,000 people last year. But these are only the start.
Other ministries include:: Other ministries include: Funeral Ministry: Contracts with funeral homes to help grieving families
SOS Rescue: Ministry to drug addicts
Ministry of Silence: Ministry to the hearing impaired
Athletes for Christ: Organized ministry of surfing, soccer, karate, and boxing
Sweeter than Honey: VBS-type program for children during “spiritist” week
Radio Ministry: 24-hour Nazarene radio station
House of the Third Age: Housing for retirees
Happy Child Project: Shelter for street children
Patin Skaters: Roller and in-line skaters who evangelize among skater clubs
Community Center: Built in one of the most infamous hillside slums in the country
Couples Ministry: Ministry to newlyweds and couples whose marriages are at risk
Courses: Courses offered in painting, sewing, flower, arranging, and computers
Preschool: 130 students from preschool through fourth grade
Training programs: Electrical trade, swimming, and soccer
King’s Teens: Choreography group for teenagers
Slide10: All told, 35 distinct ministries!
In 10 years, this church has exploded from a membership of 100 to 1,700, spinning off a dozen new congregations in the process! In cooperation with another congregation, this dynamic church recently purchased land to plant a church more than 1,000 miles away in an area where there is no evangelical witness.
Where is this church? NILOPOLIS—a northern suburb of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. According to Pastor Pedro Paulo Matos, there are 3 million people around his parish in an abandoned community, forgotten by politicians and other public figures.
Pastor Pedro Paul shares the secret of the church’s creativity, drive, and growth: “Take advantage of every ministry opportunity. See the poor, widows, children, the marginalized, and the rejected, and become a servant to all.
“The church can and must live with creativity, winning persons, and to do this does not require money. The Holy Spirit’s presence is enough, and persons in the church bring the money and the human resources.
“Please challenge the people,” he continues, “with their paralyzed lives and their safe money, with their gifts and talents stymied, without doing anything for the kingdom of God, or doing so little. We need to accumulate treasures in heaven. We need to work while it is day. The harvest is ready, but where are the laborers?”
Brazil now has 180 million people with a median age of 15. A fledgling democracy and an entrepreneurial spirit energize the country. It would be easy to live on the institutions and ideas of the past. But Pastor Pedro Paul and his people have discovered the entrepreneurial spirit of the Holy Spirit, and they have matched it with the urban needs around them. They would make Phineas F. Bresee proud!
Slide11: Cali’s Christian Cartel
Colombia can be dangerous—for North Americans, for the wealthy, for light aircraft pilots, and for Christian leaders. The U.S. State Department discourages citizens from traveling there. Nazarene Headquarters no longer sends Kansas City personnel there.
Of all the South American countries, Colombia has the sad reputation of a fifty-year history of internal violence. First was the violencia, 300,000 deaths in a twenty-year period of political chaos and civil insurrection caused by Marxists guerrillas. This was followed by the domination of the drug cartels in Medillin and Cali, which market 90% of the cocaine to North America. These cartels, in partnership with organized revolutionary armies such as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) with 17,500 soldiers under arms in lands the size of Switzerland, contest power with paramilitary armies, private militias that fight back, and a government seemingly paralyzed in the mix. Each year, some 35,000 citizens die violently and another 3,000 victims—politicians, the wealthy, expatriates, and Christian leaders—are kidnapped, held for ransom, tortured, and at times killed with their properties confiscated to finance illegal operations. One Nazarene pastor has been kidnapped three times; another was stabbed to death near his home. Though major cities themselves are less dangerous, travel between them is precarious.
Examples of Compassion: Slide12: Yet a momentous transformation is underway. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Cali, the steamy sensual city of 3 million residents on the western side of the country where coffee production first ruled until displaced by coca. There I learned a different history.
In 1980, only 30 Protestant churches could be found in Cali. Now there are over 600. And the churches are vibrant and growing. I wanted to learn the secret.
Forty years ago, Billy Graham conducted a campaign here and declared that, when he woke up that morning, he saw three crosses on a hill and Christ the King standing on another hill, evidence that Cali would someday experience revival. Many Christians believed this to be a prophetic statement.
In 1991, a Bolivian missionary became so anguished by the conditions within Cali—15 street murders a day—and the discord between the churches that he called together various groups of intercessors to pray for the city. The prayer and reconciliation movement grew so that by 1995, 55,000 people gathered in an all night vigil in the city soccer stadium, with another 15,000 marching in prayer outside.
Later that year, the missionary, then president of the ministerial council, was gunned down by unknown assailants, creating such a revulsion against violence and a hunger for spiritual renewal that the prayer gatherings were intensified. At one point, 48 hours after one intercessory session, the headline of the local paper declared that for the first time in recent history the city had traversed a weekend with no homicides. During this period of time, seven drug lords were arrested, 900 policemen were fired for graft and corruption, and the mayor declared that Jesus was Lord of Cali.
Slide13: I wanted to get a flavor of what was happening in Cali, so I attended the Casa de Oración (“House of Prayer”) Church of the Nazarene.
When I entered, the church was “rocking” with jubilation and praise. It was their second of three services, their sanctuary of 900 chairs having reached capacity two months earlier. Now their earlier service was filling up, offering the prospect of a fourth service within a few months. As I looked around, these were not worshippers from the margins of society, but rather well-dressed, middle class types—doctors, lawyers, university professors, students, and hundreds of children and young people. Six white-robed young girls undulated in musical rhythms while waving their tambourines. The worship team led us in musical chants about being a soldier for God followed by an internationally renowned salsa singer who engaged us in the intricate rhythms and words of salsa and meringue-styled choruses. The diminutive pastoral duo, Adalberto and Nineye Herrera, each expressed their genuine love for their people, she proclaiming the Scripture promise for the week, he preaching competently on the prayer of Jabez. I noted that as Scriptures were read throughout the service, the congregation had been drilled to cite for memory the verses and scrupulously follow relevant passages in their Bibles.
Thirteen people came forward to receive Christ, added to the eight who proclaimed new-found faith in the earlier service.
I wondered what the secret was to their church growth, so I queried various members of the congregation including the pastoral family itself. Among many, ten reasons became most obvious. Slide14: 1. Prayer: Unanimously, all said that growth came coupled with intense prayer. The pastoral couple started prayer meeting daily at 6:00 a.m. in 1996 with a committed core of five. A year later, that core had dwindled to three. But they stuck it out until now, where Nineye leads prayer each day for twenty people at 4:00 a.m. with specific attention to the cosecha (harvest). By 6:00, one hundred people assemble, on their way to work, with prayers oriented to their tasks and temptations of the day. By 7:00, another group assembles. On Wednesdays, over 400 meet for the entire morning of prayer and fasting. Youth, women, and others have their special times of intercession.
Three outcomes result from such a church lifestyle of prayer. (1) Intimacy and community is formed within the various prayer groups. As Pastor Adalberto says, prayer constitutes the pulmones, the lungs, the life-giving breath of the church. (2) As a result of prayer, the congregation is seeing daily evidences of signs and wonders, miracles, and answered prayer that in turn become part of the celebration of the community. (3) Prayer is an invitation for God to work his own surprises in the church, resulting in a church growth style dependent not on cause and effect manipulation, but on the sheer serendipity of unconstricted grace.
2. Signs and Wonders: Stories abound throughout the congregation of God’s miraculous power. One medical doctor’s wife displayed, with unabated glee, her newborn infant. Unable to have children, or so she thought, then confined to bed for nine months, then birth complications resulting in her baby’s death in the womb and yet, voila, here she was with child, healthy and happy, and convinced that God performs miracles. I was told about another child who stopped breathing in one of their services, but after prayer the child instantaneously recovered. The elderly lady dancing with her tambourine in front of me was bed-ridden with rheumatism three years ago. Now her unfettered movements telegraph clearly the message of God’s healing touch. Slide15: 3. Varied Communication Methods: This Nazarene Church now supports a daily radio and television ministry along with periodic advertising spots. A battery of five telephone operators answers an average of one hundred inquiries a day, offering spiritual counseling, information, prayer, and invitations to the church. Forty percent of the newcomers to the church are enticed by the multi-media message. Recently, they upgraded their web page of <www.nazareno.net> and e-mail address (<email@example.com>) and received a response from a Roman Catholic priest inviting the Church of the Nazarene to come to start a ministry there in his city of Medellin.
4. Context of Need and Desperation: In my conversations with several members, their rush to grace followed personal tragedies so common in this nation. Lizbeth, a Lydia-type hostess, shared her personal anguish of losing two sons and a son-in-law—all pilots—to aviation accidents. I didn’t dare ask her if they were shoot-downs. But as a result, her life was turned over to Christ, and her widowed daughter, in a distant city, is already organizing the beginnings of the Church of the Nazarene there.
5. Compassionate Ministry Outreach: On Saturday nights, twenty or so youth prepare food and clothing that they deliver to the homeless huddled on the underside of the local soccer stadium. There, they conscript candidate drug-addicts to enlist in one of two drug rehabilitation homes that the church operates. Forty men populate one home, twenty-five the other. It was pointed out to me that the ushers for the morning services are the clients from these homes, now delivered from their destructive lifestyles. In a recent youth retreat, one hundred young adults placed on their fingers rings (made by a member of the church) symbolizing total surrender to Jesus Christ and availability for service and ministry. At Christmas, 700 packages of gifts were distributed to other poorer Nazarene churches. And currently a preschool is being planned at the facility. Slide16: 6. Quality and Sustained Leadership: Pastor Adalberto admitted to me that some unwitting missionary prematurely sent him and his wife off to Cali 22 years ago, totally unprepared for the task assigned. He says that he had been neither baptized nor trained for the ministry and wondered even if he were a cristiano or maybe just a cristino. Yet God overcame the obstacles. Over the years, training, experience, diligence and openness to divine leadership have endowed him wisdom and credibility that are now paying handsome dividends. What if he had left after fifteen years? What if he and his wife hadn’t put up with miserable housing, little furniture, and the discomforts of an impoverished congregation? To have settled for greener pastures would have snipped off the glorious days they are experiencing now. As one member told me, “They treat everyone with love and dignity, not just because they have known us and shepherded us, but because they themselves have known the austerity and desperateness that any of us have experienced.”
I was impressed by the work ethic of the entire pastoral staff and especially of Adalberto and Nineye. They are totally absorbed in ministry. It is their bread and butter, twenty four hours a day. And for those who critique such obsessive service, all three of their young adult children are actively engaged in leadership roles in the church.
7. Networking: When, five years ago, the Bolivian prayed for the unity of the Christian Church, prayer was answered by the dissolving of ecclesiastic barriers. Pastor Adalberto sees the growth in his church as nothing unique but rather the rising of a tide of Christian expansion that cuts across all denominations. The goal is not just local church renewal but “community transformation” of a sort that the very personality of Cali will be changed. As such, he is actively involved in the ministerial association, networks in the city, and encourages his members to participate in interchurch activities. Often, his church is host to interdenominational gatherings and prayer meetings. Slide17: 8. Vision: Adalberto believes that his church can grow in the next few years to a regular attendance of 5,000 in 5 services. He is seeking to attract not Christians from elsewhere but rather the unsaved. Already, his church has helped spawn 26 other congregations—10 in the Cali area, and one in a different region of the country. His board shares his dream. Furthermore, he wants to pastor a church which is active 24 hours a day.
9. Appearances: The pastor is convinced that an aesthetically pleasing church facility is necessary and honorable to God. Earlier in his ministry, he and his board were at odds over the remake of the entrance to the church. Adalberto felt strongly that the entrance needed to be redesigned to accommodate the hundreds passing in and out and yet do so with flair and style. The board resigned. Adalberto marched ahead with his plans. Now, in hindsight, the elegant facade fits the appearances of the facility which continues to push out its walls in various projects of expansion. His baptistery, with streaming waterfalls, was designed by a nationally awarded architect who is a member of the church.
10. God’s Presence: But more than the physical facility, one member testified that the draw for her was the spirit of the presence of God. As I sat (no, stood, throbbed, and gyrated!) throughout that entire service, I held back tears realizing that in this place of infamy and tragedy, God was doing extraordinary things. His presence was palpable and palliative, offering countless personal stories of transformation in a larger community that itself was being transformed.
As I left, I sensed that in this story of credible church growth, there was CALI-dad, that is, “quality” from which we all could learn.
How Does One Cross the Barriers to Minister?: How Does One Cross the Barriers to Minister? Where there are “giants” in the land of … Christian Inertia Skewed Theologies Racism Structural Evil Materialistic Pursuit Failed Testimony The Theology of Nairobi Chapel in Kenya, Senior Pastor Oscar Nuriu: The Theology of Nairobi Chapel in Kenya, Senior Pastor Oscar Nuriu Great Commission of John 20:21
“As the Father has sent me, so send I you”
The “how to”, the methodology of doing the great commission
How did the Father send the Son? Incarnation of Christ: Incarnation of Christ Change in Attitude
Change in Geography
Change in Associations: To the Poorest
Change in Resource Base Servant Ministry of Christ: Servant Ministry of Christ What is God already doing in that Community?
Go into the Neighborhood not to create dependency?
Serve to be put out of business The Cross of Christ: The Cross of Christ Death to Sin
Death to Self
Death to Life The Resurrection of Christ: The Resurrection of Christ Hope in the Present
Hope in the Kingdom
Hope in the Eternal Slide24: Oswald Sanders:
“A great deal of Christian failure is more a result of an express caution than bold experimentation of new ideas. The frontiers of the Kingdom of God will never be advanced by men and women of caution.” “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.”