Been reflecting on my last blog…it came about in response to listening to a lady speak about her ministry with drug addicts and prostitutes as I contrasted our ‘social work’ with hers.
My good, learned, and passionate brother, Captain Gordon Coterrill of URBANarmy fame has introduced the phrase ‘false dichotomy’ in the past. I think what he means by that our mission should be holistic in the sense that we don’t say one thing is social work and the other is evangelism. He also mentions that our social service or community service should never be a hook to salvation.
But the fundamental problem comes in when, actually, providing social work and community work, as a valid expression of the Missio Dei (mission of God) becomes devorced from its redemptive heart. Transformation/salvation is our business and authentic transformation must always include the spiritual. Whilst we accept that our actions and words play a part in what can sometimes be a journey to salvation, I wonder how often we miss something.
1) That people may be ready to receive Jesus
2) That their current need may actually be met straight away by the supernatural provision of God.
I think about the ministry of Jackie Pullinger….you know, the one in Hong Kong. There is a lady who has seen thousands not only saved, but come off drugs and out of prostitution with nothing but prayer and Jesus.
She doesn’t spend hours and hours building relationship. In fact, the first words that come out of her mouth are something akin to that of Jesus ‘do you want to be well?’ 9 times out of 10 the people say yes, she introduces them to Jesus, they are filled with the Holy Spirit and the addicts and new converts are given the gift of praying in tongues for themselves, they are prayed over for 10 days, they are prayed through cold turkey without pain and then they are built up in their faith.
I’ve seen and heard testimonies each time I have heard her speak of those she brings with her. All of whom testify to meeting Jesus, being filled with the Spirit, praying in tongues and being used to pull others out of the hell of addiction.
There is no hidden agenda with Jackie. Her agenda is plain and out in the open and she is used by God to transform lives…not tickle them as they go on their merry way.
My challenge again is this…perhaps we should worry less about having a hidden agenda and simply recognise that Kingdom business, done in the Spirit of love and not arrogance or judgement, is at its purest and best when we allow the Spirit to cut to the heart of things.
I worked in a SA social service centre for a few years, albeit in the office and not only did I see work less than Christian, I saw some staff who themselves were unregenerate contributing to the sinfulness of the ‘clients.’ Thats not what we need or want. Its counter productive.
Contrary to the nice shiny borchures, the success rates aren’t as good as they sound. Many a times I saw our ‘sorted’ clients drunk on the side of the street or having to return within a few weeks of being sent out ‘sorted.’
The saddest was the day one of the drunken men appeared on the front page of the Salvationist with an Army band in the forefront with the sort of idea that here was a drunk man encaptured by the ministry of a Salvation Army band when in fact, only a few weeks previous, he’d left the hostel ‘sorted’ and here he was lying in the gutter with a can of beer.
Its nothing to do with hidden agendas…I don’t want people to be sold short. I remember every day of the pain of what it means to live without Christ. And the Salvation Army soldier needs to understand, either from experience of from contact with the unsaved, what it feels like to be in need of Jesus and for no-0ne to tell you.
I am fortunate…it only took 15 years for someone to explain the gospel to me. What about the 78 year old tramp? What about the 15 year old prostitute selling her body to feed her three month old baby? Does she need rescue or not?
Comes back to the fundamental issue. When shipwrecked people are drowning in the sea do we spend the time building relationship before we toss them a life jacket?