By Pastor Daryl Largis
Some have asked should the Church get involved in things like economic development given many would say that is the role of government and the community at large? In other words, should the Church care about such things, and if so, why and to what degree? For that matter, are God’s people, His Church, instructed in Scripture to meet the physical and material needs of people, and in doing so, enable them to better themselves? These are good questions that require careful answers for if we are not diligent in answering them, we may miss the full extent in which God wishes to work through us in this world.
Simply stated, it is in God’s heart to provide for those without—those who are thirsty and those who are hungry. Scripture says God satisfies these needs with good things. “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107: 8, 9). Scripture doesn’t say how He is going to do it, nor does Scripture reveal to what degree. It just says that it is in His heart and will to do so.
As the primary agents of God’s will in the world at this time, I believe the Church has a key, leading role in fulfilling the desires of God towards mankind. God is good and desires to shower goodness on His creation. Therefore, the Church, as His instrument, is instructed to do good.
- “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (1 Cor. 10:24).
- “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Tim. 6:18).
- “And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good” (2 Thess. 3:13).
God has always expected His people to be agents of goodness in the world for the benefit of others, such that even those who do not know Him will praise Him. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). This is in hopes of them coming to repentance, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?(Romans 2:4), when they encounter the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, the Church as God’s representative in the world at this time, needs to recognize the importance of what it does as well as what it says. We not only must proclaim the good news but also demonstrate it. This is why we partner with those bringing good things to those who are thirsty and those who are hungry. In other words, we as the Church need to be willing to engage in the discussion, planning and fulfillment of bringing good things to those in need in this world. This may, depending upon geography and circumstance, involve tethering economic development to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whereas in other places, it may involve medical related support, clean water, or Christian education for that matter. In some instances, it is all of the above. Sierra Leone is such a place and this, the very place where we are continuing to strategically invest on behalf of the gospel.
With this in mind, I want to share a recent conversation. A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with the new CEO of World Hope, John Lyon (www.worldhope.org). For some quick background, The Chapel, directly and through the Sierra Leone Alliance, has partnered with World Hope in the past on a couple of fronts in Sierra Leone involving clean water/sanitation, human trafficking and their mango juice project.
The primary topic of conversation during my time with Mr. Lyon pertained to an exciting new project in Sierra Leone involving pineapples. World Hope in partnership with Houghton College and their extensive reach in-country is in the process of developing a sustainable farm-to-market supply chain for pineapples in Sierra Leone. This project has the potential to impact more than 160 villages where the typical farmer today lives on less than $1 per day. Given pineapples can be grown year-round, this project has the potential to bring significant economic revival into these villages, thereby giving the villagers the means to improve their standard of living (i.e. food, medical care, education).
It is worth noting that when the community prospers so can the Church. “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV). World Hope will leverage the supply chain and juice manufacturing assets already in place as a result of the mango juice project for this new pineapple project. The mango project as first-of-its-kind was a resounding success in enabling farmers to harvest and send to market mangoes albeit only for the short two-month harvest season. It should also be noted that World Hope will be working in and through the indigenous church in these villages to manage and facilitate this program, along with their in-country resources.
While we as The Chapel have not yet made a commitment to support this pineapple project, it will be discussed at a future Sierra Leone Alliance meeting. Please be in prayer for us as we plan and partner for the betterment of the people of Sierra Leone, and for the partners in the Sierra Leone Alliance: Global Outreach Missions, Let Them LOL, EduNations, Jericho Road Ministries and Houghton College. God is doing some amazing things there with and through His Church, that we have been blessed to play a small part in helping to become a reality.