If you could give a poor person a home to live in or the message of Gospel, which would you choose?
Have you ever been asked this question and thought that whatever answer you give is the wrong one?
While creating a document for our financial supporters about the work ICC does, I noticed that our funds are divided into two categories: those that bandage the persecuted Church, and those that build the persecuted Church. While we have Biblical mandates to back up this two-handed business model (not to mention 17 years of consistent growth and rising impact), it is still surprising how divisive this is among Christians.
Most would probably say, “Sure, I think both are important,” but then have a knee-jerk reaction when they see one superseding the other. In fact, we were recently accused of being responsible for people who are sent to prison, because we send Bibles into a country where we know there are consequences for owning one. This is not an uncommon criticism. These two giving strategies are divided between “sacred” (the Gospel-only) and “secular” (the home-only) as are their supporters.
In the sacred camp, you see people who are focused on the spiritual needs of a person or people group. They pay for Bibles to be printed, churches to be built, and missionaries to be sent, yet gloss over the immediate physical needs that are present. They are quick to lay hands and pray for healing, but blind to the need of a grumbling stomach, or cold hands and feet.
In the secular camp, you see people who are focused on the tangible, immediate needs of a person or people group. This camp will lead the charge in demanding clean water, safe housing and decent wages, yet forsake the spiritual matters, either because “it’s not important,” or “we don’t want to be offensive.”
There seems to be a tension between the two, disallowing people to value both at the same time. Yet the truth is, you do not have to choose between the house and the Gospel, the two ministries do not have to be mutually exclusive. We model our ministry this way because Jesus modeled his ministry this way. He healed the lame, and said that He alone was the way, the truth and the life. If he did both, why shouldn’t we?
Although we acknowledge that at times, needs have different degrees, we are just as passionate to build the Church as well as bandage the persecuted church. This is what we are called to do, to fight for the rights of the destitute, as well as make disciples of all nations. This is a living Gospel.