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Engaging in the “Missions” Dialogue

The global Christian community is deeply engaged in a growing conversation about childcare ministries and global missions. Last month, we explored some crucial inquiries regarding childcare (which you can read about here), and this month, we’re delving into the topic of international missions from Agape’s unique perspective. A common question I’ve encountered since my involvement with Agape addresses the balance between benevolence and evangelism: Question #1 – “Benevolence is commendable, but isn’t evangelism clearly superior? Shouldn’t telling people about Jesus be prioritized over addressing physical needs?”

This question is frequently asked, reflecting a common belief that eternal matters outweigh temporal ones, and that the soul’s value surpasses the body’s needs. Yet, suggesting a choice between benevolence and evangelism might appear insincere or myopic. Jesus himself practiced a holistic ministry approach, simultaneously addressing both spiritual and physical needs, demonstrating love in tangible ways while fostering discipleship.

However, the dilemma often arises from genuine concerns: We’ve observed ministries that solely focus on benevolence, resulting in endless handouts without meaningful life change or the sharing of the Gospel. Conversely, some focus exclusively on abstract spiritual concepts without addressing the real challenges people face, seemingly overlooking James 2:16, which questions the value of faith without works to address physical needs.

At Agape, our response is straightforward: embrace both missions. Our mission is to nurture the next generation of Christians in Asia by demonstrating the Father’s love to abandoned and vulnerable children. This approach not only addresses immediate needs but also prepares hearts for the Gospel, embodying Jesus’ model of holistic ministry. By loving God and our neighbors, we believe that the most effective ministries integrate both spiritual and tangible expressions of God’s love.

One example of this is a leader’s family who has integrated multiple orphans into their home while leading a growing house church. Inspired to reach out further, they recently initiated Gospel sharing in a nearby community lacking a church. Their first step involved setting up weekly visits to care for at-risk children through Children’s Clubs. These actions not only demonstrate Christ’s love but also build trust within the community, setting a strong foundation for impactful discussions on faith and salvation. As new disciples emerge in this unreached area, they learn to both proclaim and demonstrate the Good News, embodying a faith that actively engages both word and deed.

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