Jesus, the Christ, has summed up the holistic ministry theme in the model of spirituality which he taught and exemplified in the greatest commandment and Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer or Model prayer is essentially a model for development and for that matter holistic development because it contains the three core values of development.
Michael Todaro, a pioneer in development economics, identifies the trilogy as life sustenance, self esteem and freedom from servitude. Life Sustenance connotes the ability to provide basic necessities. A basic function of all economic activity, therefore, is to provide as many people as possible with the means of overcoming the helplessness and misery arising from lack of food, shelter, health, and protection.
Self Esteem implies being a person with a sense of self-worth and self-respect, of not being used by others for their own needs. All people and societies seek some basic form of self-esteem. Call it by other name, authenticity, identity, dignity, respect, honor or recognition, the essence is still the same. Its nature and form may vary from society, and from one culture to another.
Freedom from Servitude, on the other hand, means the ability to choose. This refers to the fundamental sense of freedom or emancipation from alienating conditions of life. It covers freedom from the societal servitude of men to nature, ignorance, other men, misery, institutions, and dogmatic beliefs. Freedom also involves the expanded range of choices and their members together with the minimization of external constraint in the pursuit of some of social goals, which we call ‘development’.
There had been no problem with the holistic ministry in the past when the dominant worldview was holistic. Supposedly there is no problem for us in the Asian context because the Orientals view things in cyclic manner which is conducive for holistic ministry. However, because of our colonial past, our psyche has been dominated by Western linear mindset which tends to dichotomize. Hence, the tradition of separating mind and body, good and evil, theory and practice, religion and public life etc.
As a result, we tend to practice a split level Christianity .The religious life is not integrated with the day-to-day life. There is a different set of church and religious life and another set for everyday affairs. More often, they are contradictory. This is reflected in our view of ministry and even on development.
For this reason, we always look for biblical basis to justify our actions to distinguish ourselves from other humanitarian endeavors. Although, in the last parable of the great surprise, there appears to be no mention about biblical references. Still, we have lots of them. Aside from the previous scriptures, here are some: Acts 4:32-37; James 2:14-24; Romans 15:24-28; Galatians 2:10;2 Corinthians 8:13-15; Acts 2:44
In fact, the Sermon on the Mount itself has element of holistic ministry. For even the byword among Christian greeting implies wholeness. The words Shalom and Salaam mean “peace” in Hebrew and Arabic respectively and often represent a peace symbol. The Word shalom can be used for all parts of speech; as a noun, adjective, verb, and as an adverb. It categorizes all shaloms. The word shalom is used in a variety of expressions and contexts in Hebrew speech and writing: Completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.
(to be continued)
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.