What Are We Going to Do About This?

congo-crisis(Click here to see World Relief Video)

Congo in Crisis: Human Catastrophe Unfolds

The situation in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is critical.

Thousands were fleeing as rebel forces advanced on the city of Goma in eastern DRC.  Rebel soldiers were on the edge of the city as a fragile ceasefire held.

The crisis is rapidly unfolding into a humanitarian disaster on a huge scale.  Reports of random killings, rape and other atrocities are widespread.

Right now, the situation in Goma is incredibly tense, with many Congolese upset at the inability of the United Nations peacekeeping force to protect them.  The 17,000-strong force has been unable to halt the violence in a region that has been devastated by two civil wars.

The conflict in the Congo is one of the world’s most under-reported catastrophes.  In the past 12 years, an estimated 5 million people have died from malnutrition and disease spurred on by the conflict.

“I don’t know what is going to happen,” said one aid worker, “but I think that Goma is going to fall.”

Read more about the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (pdf)

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A Deeper Insight- November 2008

tomi grover

When you consider the heart of Christian Community Development you must think through shalom in new ways.  Shalom, defined as: the world as God intends it to be.  In Christendom, we truly believe at the core of God’s character that He is love.

1 John 4:7-20: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

If people are going to see that God is love in our society today we may need to grasp that His love is expressed in how we treat one another (both in the church and those outside of it).  Princeton scholar, Cornel West said in a recently released “rock-umentary” Call and Response: “Love is what justice looks like in public,” See the trailer at:  www.callandresponse.com.

How we live justice out in public can look like a million and one different expressions.  This can be a home for women coming out of jail/prison.  See www.perpetualhelphome.com.  It can be a coffee house with an internet café that focuses on high school students graduating and going on to college. See http://www.bcfs.net/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=461&srcid=268.  Perhaps it is a medical clinic like Mission East Dallas, http://www.missioneastdallas.org. Or even, the International Justice Mission which addresses children being sold into slavery worldwide at: www.ijm.org.  This is just a sample of several iterations of caring for the “least of these” (see Matthew 25).

This generation like no other wants to see that Christians do what Jesus did, say and act in public like God’s character which they supposedly represent. A demonstration of the power of the Gospel is the “skin on” Jesus for people to see that we are ambassadors of care for those who are victimized, marginalized, and looked down on in our society.

What does justice look like to you? Ask God to show the passionate heart call He has placed in you to serve people with your gifts, skills, talents and abilities!  If you need more resources let us know – see some of our archived Glimpses of Glory concerning Human Trafficking, Addictions Ministries, Restorative Justice, etc.

God has made me an Advocate for the voiceless and Abolitionist of child exploitation at heart! What about you?

Tomi Grover

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Mission Brenham Attends CCDA Conference in Miami, Florida

Mission Brenham

Mission Brenham took 3 of our staff to the CCDA conference in Miami, FL. with the help of funding from the Local Transformation Office of the BGCT.  CCDA has become even more relevant and functional than in past years.  Mission Brenham and other organizations benefit each year through challenging speakers and practical workshops hosted by fellow practitioners.

The results can be found in the following ways:

Funding. Since grant writing is not a part of the normal church experience, attending breakout sessions that fleshed out the process was very helpful.  One session in particular elucidated how to write the request letter for a grant proposal.  The workshop emphasized how to quantify result, lending credibility to your program.

Innovation. Each time we attend the CCDA conference we pick up valuable insight and practices that help us do our programs better and show us new programs to start.  This year we found a valuable resource for unwed mothers.

Networking. As a director, I am always looking for help in areas of management, funding, and recruitment.  This year I had valuable discussions concerning what to do with underperforming staff, where to look for specific grants, and how to deal with junior high volunteers.

Spiritual Encouragement. CCDA is so socially minded, that it can easily degrade into merely a group of humanitarian agencies without the presence and power of God.  Greater pains were taken this year to have a balance.  My spirit was encouraged by several workshops that underscored the power and intimacy found in the quiet of Sabbath and a regular schedule of daily worship.

Confirmation. So much of what we do seems to have little precedent.  Our neighborhoods have fallen apart because we have not practiced Shalom as God has intended.  We have not been the peacemakers that Christ calls us to be in Matthew 5.  As we do ministry, we pray, we work, and we hope that we are doing what is best, even though our present reality is beyond our past experiences.  For us, CCDA confirms that we are on the right track in so many ways.  We hear people say, “You should be doing this…” and we often can say, “We’re doing that!”  It certainly boosts our morale.  For those who have gone before us in CCD work, we are recharged because we know this present toil will yield a wonderful crop in due season.

Rev. Marcus Lawhorn
Executive Director  –  Mission Brenham

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…and we lost everything

First Baptist Outreach Center

My heart is still aching after listening to 26 congregations introduce themselves at a Partners for Sacred Places meeting in Galveston, Texas.  Represented at this meeting were just a few of the many Churches and Synagogues in Galveston that were affected by Hurricane Ike.  The meeting was held this past Monday evening, November 17th.  They shared how Ike had wreaked havoc in their community and on their facility.  Almost all of them ended their introduction with “and we lost everything.” Many took in levels of water from 3 to 9 feet.  I was particularly moved by the Pastor of the St. Paul United Methodist Church that said “I am homeless;  I had to sleep in my car for two weeks, me and my children”.  Wow!!  The damage in this area is devastating and so widespread.  This was a meeting of the Sacred Places in Galveston, not to mention the devastation of other areas from Freeport, all along the Gulf Coast to Orange, Texas which is almost to the boarder of Texas and Louisiana.  I also had an opportunity to meet with the Interim Director of Missions for the Galveston Baptist Association, Grayson Glass who indicated that of the 57 churches in the GBA Association, 18 of them sustained damage and the congregations are trying to recover.  So far we have only mentioned the Sacred Places and haven’t begun to describe the condition of the communities and neighborhoods where hundreds of families have lost everything and their homes have been destroyed.  I passed through the Northeast side of Galveston where several housing projects are abandoned and ruined meaning that these families that once lived there are now displaced.  The entire business section of Galveston known as the Strand is under reconstruction.  It looks as if every business in this area is closed and under reconstruction.  Can you imagine the financial loss that these businesses are incurring daily while they recover?


So then what can and should we be doing as the Body of Christ to bring transformation to this area of our State and be the presence of Christ in such a devastating situation?  First we need to be praying for churches and individuals that have been impacted by Hurricane Ike.  Be praying for the emotional health of those that have been impacted and for resources to reach these individuals expediently.  Pray that God’s Shalom (His restoration and peace) will come to these affected communities and in the lives of all that have been impacted.  Secondly, you can become a part of restoring and rebuilding these affected areas by making yourself and/or your finances available to the restoration efforts.  You can go to www.bgct.org/disaster to discover volunteer opportunities and Church 2 Church partnerships that are available and badly needed.  Financial assistance can be donated via this site also.  Currently numerous families are still displaced.  FEMA is attempting to address this dilemma by providing mobile homes as temporary housing.  Each mobile home needs a “Living Kit” with household items that will help a family with their new beginning.  Information on how to support a family by purchasing a Living Kit is also on this site.  The approximate cost of a Living Kit is $450 to $500 dollars.  Please seek the Lord on how you can and should respond.  Thirdly, the Local Transformational Missions office is working with the Galveston Baptist Association to assess and compile a list of needs of the GBA Churches and their families.  This list of needs will be compiled into a monthly booklet and it will also be place on the www.BGCT.org/disaster website.  The needs will be formatted into ministry / mission projects where you’ll be able to respond to a need(s) by offering volunteer support and/or funds to help these families and churches.

We are our brothers keeper and many of our brothers and sisters are hurting and suffering loss along the Gulf coast.  Will you be in prayer about what your response should be?  Feel free to call 888.244.9400 for more information or contact:

Susan Ater
Disaster Response Field Coordinator

Marla Bearden

Administrative Coordinator

Wayne Shuffield
Disaster Response Director

Carolyn Porterfield
C2C Missions Coordinator

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A Texas CCDA Network is Forming

ccdaTexas, in the house!!  Over 2,100 Ministry Practitioners attended this years’ CCDA Miami Conference.  135 of these were from Texas representing 32 organizations (churches, ministries, institutions) across the state.  The Local Transformational Missions office of the BGCT supported 21 church leaders from across the state in attending this Kingdom focused conference.  Certainly Texas was well represented which indicates that CCDA is spreading across Texas.  It’s my hope that this representation will form into a CCDA Texas Network that’s focused on the needs and brokenness of hurting individuals in Texas.  3.9 million Texans live below the poverty rate; 2.6 million people in the state experience shortages of food; 1 million experience hunger based on percentages from a national survey conducted by the US Department of Agriculture.  These just name a few of the social ills of our State.  These ills are too many and too drastic for any one of us to tackle alone.  Together we can do more to expose the ills and injustices and to bring the Shalom of God to our State.  After all, Seeking the Peace of the City is our mandate.

I’m delighted to see the efforts that are taking place in San Antonio to launch a CCDA Institute in 2009.  The date has been set for March 28th & 29th.  What’s so significant about this effort is that the focus is not just on having another conference but the aim is to launch a movement to increase the High School Graduation rate and to alleviate poverty in San Antonio.  It’s so exciting to see this planning group strategize and plan for the 2009 conference.  The group is made up of several grass root ministries and institutions in San Antonio who have pulled together to collaborate, share resources and bring the CCDA Leadership to San Antonio to conduct a CCDA Institute.  More information is forth coming.  In addition to this particular effort, the “No Need Among You” Conference will take place again in Waco.  The date hasn’t been determined but it is projected to be towards the end of July.

I’m hoping that this kind of synergy will continue to take root across our State and more of these kinds of initiatives will spring forth to address the social ills and injustices in Texas.  The BGCT and the Local Transformational Missions Team would love to be a part of these kinds of efforts that are focused on bringing transformation to the brokenness in our communities.   Please feel free to contact our office to let us know how we can become involved – 214 828 5392.

Gerald Davis
Local Transformational Mission – BGCT
CCDA Board

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“New Evangelicals” Converge at Miami Conference

miami1Bipartisan Christian leaders of all walks discuss social issues weeks before presidential election

CHICAGO, IL — Evangelical Christians with a passion for empowering the disenfranchised and saving the planet will put aside their political and denominational differences next month at the 19th Annual Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) Conference, a gathering of members of the largest Christian community development organization in the nation. At the event, held this year in Miami, the 2000-plus member group will tackle some of the core issues defining the current presidential race—unity, peace, change, and the environment–from a faith-based perspective, with a common focus on being a voice for the voiceless.

A September Newsweek noted: “Since 2004…evangelicals have softened. Sure, they still care about abortion and gay marriage. But a new, outspoken generation also cares about global warming, Darfur, illiteracy, human trafficking, preventable disease…Eager to help care for the planet, these Christians are building bridges between left and right, between the secular and the devout…” Sept 6, 2008

“This call for unity, change and bridge-building is not just political rhetoric to us,” says Noel Castellanos, CCDA’s CEO. “Bridging racial, socio-economic and political divides and fostering hope amidst the devastation in our poorer communities at home and abroad–are pillars of CCDA’s overall mission. If that passion makes us “new evangelicals” then that’s what we are!”

The CCDA conference theme of “Seeking the Shalom of the City” offers speakers and presenters that represent both older guard and younger movers and shakers, tackling issues as diverse as adult illiteracy, environmental racism, global partnerships, children and poverty, fighting gentrification, time-banking, asset-mapping and radical unity, in more than 120 workshops. Speakers at the event include: association founder and activist Dr. John Perkins, author of Let Justice Roll Down and 2008 Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner; Soong Chan Rah, seminary professor, theologian and expert on the emerging Asian-American church; Phil Jackson, director of the National Student Leadership Intensive, and pastor of The House, one of the nation’s few “hip hop” churches reaching urban youth; Juanita Irizarry, DePaul professor, public policy and housing development expert, and Harvard MPA; and Shane Claiborne, activist and touring author of the popular Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals.

With the presidential election six weeks away, the political power held by “new evangelicals” who faithfully attend conferences like CCDA’s is noteworthy, as both parties vie for swing votes. How candidates intend to tackle social and environmental issues such as those being explored at “Seeking the Shalom of the City,” is an important part of the discussion for younger Christian voters who are serious about living out their faith in meaningful ways.

As CCDA conference presenter Shane Claiborne notes, “It’s certainly easy to walk into a voting booth every four years and feel like you’re going to change the world, but that’s not going to do it,” he told CNN, soberly. “The call of Christ has more to do with how people live their lives on November 3rd and 5th, than how they vote on November 4th.”

CCDA was founded by Dr. John Perkins and Dr. Wayne Gordon in 1989 with a vision to gather and train Christian leaders who seek to bear witness to the kingdom of God by reclaiming and restoring under-resourced communities.

For more information, visit www.ccda.org

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A Deeper Insight- October 2008

Down and Dirty, Mark 2:1-5
The ongoing aftermath of Hurricane Ike along the Gulf coast of Texas brings to mind the thought for this month’s Deeper Insights.  A group of Pastors in the Elm Grove Network of Churches across Mansfield and Fort Worth led the men of their churches on a mission trip to Sabine Pass, Texas where First Baptist Sabine Pass and most of the city received extensive flooding and wind damage from Hurricane Ike.  Most of the residents and businesses were affected to the extent that they needed and still need teams of volunteers to assist them in the mudding out of their home or business.  First Baptist Sabine Pass which is a two story facility had its entire first floor submerged under 7 plus feet of water.  The first floor was to be their Outreach Center and they are anxious to get it mudded out and rebuilt so that they can begin to be of service to their community during this time.

Mud out is a dirty job. Due to the fact that the flood waters become contaminated with fuel, raw sewage and chemicals anything that comes in contact with the flood waters have to be decontaminated or thrown away.  So mudding out a home involves clearing out all of the furniture and appliances in the home which in most cases have been damaged and are un-salvageable.  All clothing, utensils, furniture and belongings that cannot be washed and decontaminated must be thrown away.  The mud and slush that’s left in the building has to be shelved out and disposed of.  The flooring in most cases has to be pulled up and thrown away.  The sheet rock has to be cut out one foot above the water line and thrown away.  Now the rooms of the affected home or business are ready to be washed down and treated with bleach, kills, or suitable chemicals to disinfect and protect against mold.  Again, mud out is a dirty job but it is required before any rebuilding can take place.  So where is the deeper insight in this?  I’m glad you asked.

If the truth be told, our lives could be described in a similar fashion.  Sin has lead many of us into deep pits of filth and debauchery.  Because of ungodly choices we have deprived ourselves of God’s righteousness.  In fact the Word of God declares that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory.  But thanks be to God, He has given His Son Jesus to mud us out!  He has washes and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  But for many of us the mudding out happens through the sacrificial life of another.  God used or is using someone to get down and dirty with the hard to reach.  He uses his children to enter into the lives of others, those that are far from Him so that they might be saved.  He wants to cleanse and makes us whole.  It’s like the men that came bringing the paralytic to Jesus.  They went to great lengths which included carrying him, lifting him up, cutting out an opening to let him down into the presence of Jesus.  And Jesus, seeing their faith healed the paralytic (Mark 2:1-5).  So this bids the question, who are you suffering and sacrificing for so that God’s Spirit can reach a soul that is lost.  How far are you willing to go for the sake of another?  It’s not about you.  Your suffering and sacrifice could be for the sake of someone else so that they might be saved.  What a privilege!  Are we willing to get down and dirty so that some soul can be saved and come into a righteous, peace and eternal relationship with our Lord.  He did it for us, He came down from heaven and gave His life for us so that we could be saved and brought into an eternal relationship with Him.  Thank God for the down and dirty saints that give of themselves for the sake of the lost. AMEN!!

Gerald Davis

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