Tag Archives: Asia Pacific Baptist Aid of Asia Pacific Baptist Federation

The challenges of holistic ministry Part 2: Relevance to disaster

But how do we relate the challenges of holistic ministry to the theme of your training for the past two days? 

I seem to find the answer in one of my favorite verses when discussing about holistic ministry. This is the last parable Jesus recorded in Matthew 25:31-46 loaded with the scenario of great surprises. In the final end, during the awarding ceremony, as the chaff is separated from the grain, sheep and goat divided, the result is beyond expectation. and the division of all the world’s people into the blessed, on the Right Hand of God, who are welcomed by the Father to inherit the Kingdom and eternal life, and the cursed, who are cast into the eternal fire with the Devil.

The division is entirely based on the acts of kindness and mercy done by people to their disadvantaged fellow people feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, visit the prisoners, clothe the naked, invite strangers to their homes. Yes, it is how holistic our respective ministries were and have been.

I have looked at and used this parable in many angles and various context. This time I have seen another one. It is in the context of disaster. For when do you see a person naked, hungry, thirsty, sick, and a stranger? Is it not in the midst of disaster?

The author delivering the Closing Challenge. Photo Credit: Ms. Henna Baclagon, Director, Development Ministries, CPBC

The author delivering the Closing Challenge.
Photo Credit: Ms. Henna Baclagon, Director, Development Ministries, CPBC

But let us not wait for the disaster to initiate holistic ministry. For even Jesus, the Christ , has made it clear in his inaugural address as public declaration of ministry that it is holistic: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favorLuke 4:18-19

Throughout his life, Jesus consistently preached, taught and acted on the socio-economic, political, environmental and spiritual themes of his ministry as he went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.In fact, he summarized his holistic ministry theme in the model of spirituality which he taught and exemplified in the greatest commandment and Lord’s Prayer.

The spirituality taught by Jesus is summed up in the greatest commandment: Love God and one’s fellow human as one’s self. This type of spirituality has two dimensions, personal and social or communal. This vertical and horizontal relationship is the essence of the Lord’s Prayer which is a Prayer for Development.

A2.Model Prayer

The first part pertains to relationship with divine, the last with humanity. “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” The use of plural words in the prayer – our, we, us – reveals the inclusiveness of Jesus in relationship.

The second part is model of relationship with humanity which comprises the three core values of development. “Give us this day our daily bread“. Bread represents basic necessities in life akin to life sustenance.

Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors“. Whether it is a literal debt or sin as some suggest, the implication here is self-esteem. Because a person who commits sin or is burdened by debts, loses some kind of self-esteem. Asking forgiveness or forgiving others restore one’s self-esteem.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil“. Deliverance connotes freedom. Yielding to temptation is a prelude to enslavement to any form of evil. This evil manifests in both personal manner and societal structures.

(To be continued)

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Delivered during the Closing Celebration of Training on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, September 7, 2013 at Highway 21 Hotel, Iloilo City. Organized by Asia Pacific Baptist Aid of Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, the 3 day training was hosted by the Development Ministries, Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.

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The challenges of holistic ministry

 

The author delivering the Closing Challenge. Photo Credit: Ms. Henna Baclagon, Director, Development Ministries, CPBC

The author delivering the Closing Challenge.
Photo Credit: Ms. Henna Baclagon, Director, Development Ministries, CPBC

I have been an advocate of holistic ministry. I talk about it in every opportunity given to me, in season or out of season, in whatever fields of endeavor I am in. I have witnessed and encountered various reactions of church people on the issue. In fact, when I was at helm of leadership in our Baptist ministers association and part of the leadership of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, I initiated an extension program for pastors which lead to a Master of Social Pastoral Ministries.

The mission of the Master of Socio-Pastoral Ministries program is to prepare pastors for leadership roles in church, church-related institutions and community. Specifically, it is geared towards a healthy and balanced pastoral leadership in church and community services. Pastor are taught that they are pastors not just  of churches but also of communities. So that they can also teach their parishioners the commitment to service both in churches and communities.

Credit: kidmia.org

For me, this is one challenge of the holistic ministry. People should be taught to memorize and internalize not only John 3:16 but also of 1 John 3:16. Of course, all of us know by heart the enviable privilege in John 3:16. But how many pastors or church members know about the accountability in 1 John 3:16? Indeed, it is heartwarming to know that there is a God who loves us so much that He gave His only son for us. But it is different thing when the time comes for us to lay down our life for others. And if we move on further to the next verses, we will hear this rebuke from John: 

john

When I was still involved with our theological institutions, one of the questions I asked Theology students to engage them into discussion is why they enroll in the seminary or why did they take up theology. The common answer is to serve God. Seldom do you hear responses on serving the people or community. My follow up questions then are: Are you sure God wants you to serve Him? Can you cite biblical basis? How would you relate the question to Christ’s own statement that he came not to be served but to serve? Haven’t it cross your mind that  our assertion  to serve God alone can be  an escapism in fulfilling his mandate to serve the people?

For it is more convenient to serve God than serve the people. God never complained the way we serve him. How much time and resources we give him? But it is different from people. You will hear negative feedback if you deliver poor services to them.

Another challenge of holistic ministry is for us to preach and teach church members the whole story not just a compartment that would satisfy their need. So in emphasizing the good news in Ephesians 2:8-9, we should not exclude the succeeding verse that involves accountability. Lest we falsely assure people of eternal security without minding what has been expected of them. For while it is true that salvation is a gift of God, not from ourselves or by good works for it is by grace through faith, we are also God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

whole

Holistic ministry challenges us also to introduce people to the Way, which Christians believe to be the only way to heaven. But it is just one third of His claim. For this Way also expects us to be on the side of the Truth and stand for it without fear or favor; advocate and work for that which brings or gives Life, not destruction. Thus, Christians should always seek & do things in proper way; stand for the truth and nothing but the truth and engage in service and in life giving endeavors especially to the marginalized so that they too can attain the promised abundant life.

Similarly, holistic ministry challenges us to let the people know the answer. But not without the benefit of engaging them into critical discussion on questions. For it is when people understand and properly analyze the questions that they find the relevance and significance of the answer.

Holistic MInistry

This reminds me of the risks involved in espousing holistic ministry. In my case, it caused a delay in the completion of my theological studies. In fact, I had experienced some sort of isolation because at that time, our denomination was quite not comfortable with our advocacy. So I was forced to shift to another course. After finishing my Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree, I resumed my aborted theological studies. During the first day of the class, in her effort to make me feel comfortable, our professor asked me to differentiate theology and social work or the difference between a pastor and a social worker.

In jest, or should I say, out of the abundance of the heart, I quickly responded: “When a social worker enters the community, although he/she may have prior knowledge of the problem, still  the social worker immerses with the people and learns from and/or with them their problems. The process may take sometime, perhaps weeks or months. Thereafter, the solution undergoes another participatory process in order to find and work out the solution. A pastor, on the other hand, has already the answer prior to knowing the problem or even before entering the community. Worse, if he/she would not even dare ask the questions.

(To be continued)

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Delivered during the Closing Celebration of Training on Disaster Risk Reduction and ManagementSeptember 7, 2013 at Highway 21 Hotel, Iloilo City. Organized by Asia Pacific Baptist Aid of Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, the 3 day training was hosted by the Development Ministries, Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.