Can community development and Disciple Making Movements flow together? This guest blog on integral mission was written by my friend Martine. Her story and input provide a clear answer to this question.
My first experiences in mission were in a time of famine. We worked among a nomadic tribe. They were one hundred percent of another faith and lived in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a medical doctor, I treated them during the day, and as a missionary evangelized in the evening.
During an epidemic, many children were dying of cholera. Often, too often, mothers brought me back the medicine I gave them, with their dead baby in their arms. They would tell me: “Thank you, Dr. M., for what you did to help us. But it was God’s will to take my child away “. As a young doctor, I felt more and more inadequate and desperate.
How could the Gospel I was sharing with these people bring them into His Kingdom? How could this Kingdom bring real transformation to their life and community?
At that time, these people had no clue what life in God’s Kingdom could look like or how to embrace it.
While intensely praying, Jesus’ words resonated in me. “Teach them to obey everything that I’ve commanded to you.”
That was the beginning of a new journey of learning. I would learn to integrate evangelism, discipleship, health care, and community development principles. Then, I would train others to do the same.
My ministry as a missionary was not only to access this people group through my job as a doctor. It was to make people from this group disciples of Jesus and citizens of His Kingdom through my job as a doctor. Below are some practical lessons I’ve learned on this journey.
Start with the Big Story
Nobody believes suffering, violence and oppression are good things. Most people ache for a better world. Our universal ache reflects a desire for a better world that either once existed or will one day exist again!
1. The world and all in it were designed for good.
In the beginning, God created a wonderful world. Everything was in harmony with everything else. He created human beings with four fundamental relationships.
Us with God: Each person was designed to be in a relationship with God, the One full of love and intimacy. God spent time with us, and we enjoyed being with Him. We were meant to love and serve each other.
Us with ourselves: People understood they were created body, soul, and spirit. They discovered their own identity and the honor given to them by God.
Us with others: Man and woman were created equal, but different. They were designed to take care of each other, to be a true community with the freedom to love and be loved. They were to serve and be served, to be themselves without shame in front of each other.
Us with the world: The creation, our environment, was designed to provide goods and beauty for us. We were appointed to take care of this creation.
These 4 fundamental relationships were harmonious.
God’s Big Story in Genesis continued in the second chapter…
2. The world – was completely damaged by Evil and put under Satan’s authority.
3. Jesus came to restore everything. Broken relationships have been restored through His death and resurrection.
“Through Him (Jesus), God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”Colossians 1 :20
4. Followers of Jesus are sent to bring reconciliation and healing.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”2 Corinthians 5:18-20
When Jesus will come again, justice, love and peace will reign forever.
Today, we are called to submit to Jesus’ leadership and follow Him by demonstrating love in every situation. We live in this present world as a community of believers. When we demonstrate healed relationships, we have been freed by God’s Spirit to love and encourage each other to live a new life. God has also called us to protect and heal the environment.
This Big Story is where we integrate Disciple Making Movements and Kingdom Community Development. We can call this Integral Mission.
Think Integral Discipleship
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’Luke 10:27.
When we train disciples in His Kingdom, we try to communicate an integral mindset by showing them how to obey to Jesus’ commands. We consider all areas: emotional, social, physical, mental, and making decisions.
Everything is connected to the spiritual.
By growing in those different areas of our lives, we will become the person God intended us to be as integral disciples.
In which areas of your life do you need to grow as a disciple of Jesus?
Think of some of your disciples. In which areas do they need to grow? How can you help them?
How can we train integral disciples in DMM? Always start small and simple.
Here are some ideas:
1. In your conversations, integrate the physical and spiritual.
One day, I wanted to teach on how we treat wounds. I shared the story of a man wounded by a crocodile bite. I asked: Is that happening in your village? How do you manage when it is happening?
Then I continued: “Is it only our skin that can be wounded?”
One person started to share: “My heart is wounded; I lost my son 3 weeks ago”. Another said: “My heart is wounded; my husband often beats me…”
Like Jesus did with the Samaritan woman: from the physical topic, we can then speak about our emotions and spiritual life. We share the Big Story and pray for the restoration and healing of our hearts.
2. Integrate physical, social and spiritual topics in the Discovery Groups.
a. Start Discovery Groups around Felt Needs
When entering a community, walk and pray with all your senses opened (look, hear, smell).
Start a Discovery Group on topics related to felt needs. Things like; health issues, relational issues, marriage, children’s education, addiction, managing finances.
Soon you will shift from physical to spiritual like Jesus did.
b. Add a fourth part to your Discovery Group: Looking Outward
In Discovery Groups: we usually look back – look up – look forward.
Try to add another part: Look outward. This is Integral Disciple Making!
Be prepared to share and train on health or social topics using visual aids: picture books, pictures downloaded on phone, or films.
Encourage each participant to apply and share with neighbors what they have learned using visual aids.
Last week, a friend in Africa shared: “We started 30 Discovery Groups in our area just before COVID entered the country. Then, we equipped the leaders of these groups with picture books on how to practically prevent COVID in families and communities. Because of the need, neighbors showed a big interest, and seventy new groups started. In the next two months, we expect to double the number of groups.”
3. Plan Acts of Love and Seed Projects
As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we are sent to invite others to enter His Kingdom and train how to live as a new citizen of His Kingdom. We will model love, compassion, and the justice of King Jesus.
Pray, discuss, and plan acts of love or seed projects with the community.
Seed projects are small-scale ministry projects. They are carried out by a group of disciples of Jesus along with community members. These projects demonstrate God’s Kingdom to the community.
4. Before all, pray and be led by the Spirit
Train integral disciples in all areas of their life and in their communities, and you will see integral community development. Training means engaging in spiritual warfare against specific forces of darkness of that place. Casting out demons and healing the sick is a vital part of community development.
Each of the builders had a sword strapped to his side as he worked. I kept the trumpeter at my side to sound the alert.Nehemiah 4:18
What stood out to you from this article? How will you apply it? Let us know in the comments below or on the DMMs Frontier Missions Facebook Group.