International Ministries

To the Jews I Became a Jew

July 22, 2012 Journal

To the Jews, I became a Jew

I recently went on a mission trip to Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa to visit Drs. Rick and Anita Gutierrez, missionaries with International Ministries.  There they have partnered with a non-profit ministry called iZulu Orphan Project.  Together they are reaching out and ministering to the needs of the Zulu people just outside of Empangeni in what is referred to as Zululand.  Seeing how they do ministry has opened my eyes to ways we could better serve our communities.

It would be really easy for “the white man” to come into that area and instruct them on how to live like us.  Rather they have invested into the community and learned the way they live and are resourcing them to live healthier lives.  Rick and Anita work with local women of the villages teaching them to be “Health Builders.”  They have trained them to perform screenings for tuberculosis, diabetes, and HIV.  They are equipped to perform body mass tests.  And more recently looking at diet and ways to better inform the Zulu people how to eat healthy to live longer, fuller lives.  IOP (iZulu Orphan Project) has Shelly Bain who goes into the villages and works with local school teachers, training them on curriculum and resourcing them with materials to teach.  Kate Bain, the head of IOP is in the process of building a new support center in one of the villages to actually move to the people, rather than the people walking a couple miles to come to them for food, clothing, and other personal needs.

Having grown up in the home of a Pastor and serving professionally on staff in two churches myself, I’ve seen how churches are guilty of always building bigger programs and striving to keep up with the latest technology so that the people will come to us.  Looking at the way Jesus lead his life though, he was always on the go, meeting people where they were, eating in their homes, going to their towns.  Getting involved in the community is important to ministry, rather than expecting the people to come to us.  The church building is a place of worship and a place to resource and disciple those walking in a relationship with Christ.  But in every other context, the training center is not the place where the work is done.  So here are my questions:

-         How can the church better be involved in the community?

-         Is it better to use our finances on developing the training center or using them to meet the needs of the people we are trying to reach?

-         Can we train our churches to leave behind the mindset of advancing the building and turn the focus on advancing His kingdom?

-         What are the interests and passions of your community?  How can you join in God’s work investing in and nurturing those gifts?

If you are working to disciple within the community, then the community will better reach and serve their own.  People trust those they have relationships with.  Your ministry field is not the Senior Adult program at your church, the choir, or the board of deacons.  Your ministry field is the neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and surrounding community in which God has placed you.  Find the needs of your community and plug in.

“You will receive the power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

 You can also read Brian's first blog, "Poverty?"

Visit Brian's website to learn more about his ministry in the USA.