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his issue of Embrace focuses forcefully on the issue of poverty. It is, in fact, the major underlying cause for many of the significant risk factors throughout Africa and the world.

The Embrace staff has worked together on a broad perspective article, entitled Defining World Poverty, which we feel will contribute to your understanding of how impacting the issue of poverty is in Africa. Dr. Johanne Mostert writes with a South African perspective – his native homeland. His broad expertise has created a strong statement in his article, Addressing Poverty in Today’s Africa.

Jay Moon, seminary professor with Africa experience, wrote for the Evangelical Missions Quarterly. We felt that his article, Holistic Discipleship: Integrating Community Development in the Discipleship Process, would be a strong contribution toward our purposes for this issue.

The child found in this edition’s cover photograph seemingly appeared out of nowhere, deep in the forest of northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Arising out of one of the most ravaged regions of the continent, everything about this child exemplifies the dilemma of the poor and deprived of Africa. That would include the visible factors of the pathos in expression, the vulnerability in posture, and the inadequacy in apparel. That also includes the hidden factors of this child’s potential, intellect and real value in the eyes of a Creator God. Poverty is binding, restrictive, and destructive. The love of Jesus is releasing, liberating, and constructive. The greatest, of course, is love!

Editor: Don Tucker Assistant Editor: Jerry Ireland Editorial Coordinator: Deborah Tucker Assisant: Michael Davis Regional Director – Africa: Mike McClaflin Graphic Art: Chase Replogle

Embrace 580 D W Central St Springfield MO 65802 Phone: (417) 851-5895 Fax: (417) 851-5899 Email:

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Dr. JoAnn Butrin has published a strong work From the Roots Up – A Closer Look at Compassion and Justice in Missions. We believe Dr. Butrin’s work is worthy of your consideration, enough to present a significant excerpt in this issue. (From the Roots Up is available at and We cannot tell you to enjoy this issue. Its focus is too tragic – too real. We can ask that you allow God to use these pages to make you think, feel, and hopefully, act as an advocate for the poor and hurting of Africa and the world. Hopefully, you will also become part of their solution.

Again, in this issue, we have chosen to remain true to our intent – contrary to contemporary trends – to not shortchange the use of words to communicate with you. Pictures and graphics are powerful. So are words. Please read every word, and allow God to use them as He desires.




Embrace | Number 3 Publisher: Assemblies of God World Missions – Africa Mike McClaflin, Regional Director


s a child growing up on a Wyoming homestead, our family found financial resources scarce and hard to come by. My definition of poverty was limited to the inability to obtain things I felt were wanted, and needed, and the resulting disappointment when lack of finances was the final arbitrator. I realize now that I didn’t have a clue.

Most in western nations cannot comprehend the destruction of health, safety, proper nutrition, peace, and, in many cases, simple human dignity, that abject poverty produces. It seems that no other continent is plagued with the misery and dehumanizing effect that poverty brings to the degree of Africa. Village after village, people group after people group, nation after nation, struggles with the sore of this blatant reality.

Yet, I continue to be buoyed by the hope of the gospel, and the promise of eternal rewards that will accompany an overcoming life. This message of redemption is the cornerstone of our faith and practice.

Competing, however, with the battle of living this overcoming life, is the parallel battle of hopelessness. Sadly, this battle is characterized by the myriad afflictions of the flesh and spirit that the grind of everyday-poverty brings – with no end in sight. So what is the role of the Church in this never-ending dilemma? I commend you, in part, to a thoughtful presentation in this latest issue of Embrace. Indeed, the Church continues to be God’s greatest tool to uplift and secure wholeness for the peoples of this realm from the womb to the tomb.

Please take time and thoroughly peruse this Embrace as we deal with this very difficult and yet tragic issue. Sincerely yours, Mike McClaflin

Regional Director for Africa Assemblies of God World Missions

Mike McClaflin

is a career Assemblies of God missionary to Africa currently serving as regional director for Africa and the surrounding island nations for the U.S. Assemblies of God.


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Editorial Team Note on Statistics


nyone turning to the internet, looking for statistics on any topic, is aware that the sheer volume of information available is overwhelming. Also, statistics from one source occasionally directly contradict statistics from another. This simply evidences the fact that numbers can easily be skewed in favor of any particular agenda. Statistics are also notoriously shortlived—most statistics change almost daily. They also tend to be rather abstract—most of us cannot grasp what a million people looks like. All of this serves to establish the need to proceed with caution in using statistics. Wise, intentional choice of sources, working toward the most viable statistical information possible, must be the guiding rule.

Yet, statistics are vitally important for defining poverty, for developing solutions, and for measuring progress in eliminating it. Vital assessment and ongoing evaluation depend on dependable statistical information. Thus, balance is in order.

Defining Poverty

Defining poverty is a complex issue. Most who have written on the subject have pointed out the need for a multi-faceted understanding. It is too simplistic to say 4 EmbracE Spring 2011

that poverty means living below a certain dollar-per-day income. This is not to say, though, that poverty lines drawn from economic indicators are without value. For instance, the World Bank, the international agency designed to target poverty by providing financial and technical assistance to impoverished nations,1 has determined the international poverty line to currently stand at $1.25 per day or less. Nearly one-and-a-half billion people meet this criterion, or just over twenty percent of the world’s population as of 2005, when the latest figures were calculated. When the poverty line is measured as any amount below $2.50/ day, that figure rises to almost fifty percent of the world’s population.2

Although the economic factor is one aspect of poverty, there are many other important criteria that contribute to the reality that billions of people around the world are barely surviving from one day to the next. Other criteria for measuring poverty include such elements as environment, numerous forms of exploitation, and opportunities for change. For instance, “Africans not only have less money than Europeans and Americans, they also have lower life expectancy and less chance of ever going to school.”3 Most contemporary assessments of poverty, therefore, are attempting to include these many contributing factors in their definitions and assessments.4 Global poverty is inherently difficult to define and even harder to measure. This is true to the point that some feel it is an impossible task. As an example, counting the number of persons in America living below the “poverty line,” and comparing that to the same category of persons

The UN Millennium Project also reports the following statistics on poverty related issues:10


Every year, six million children die from malnutrition before their fifth birthday (or, nearly the entire populations of Chicago and Los Angeles combined).

More than fifty percent of Africans suffer from waterrelated diseases such as cholera and infant diarrhea.

Every day, HIV/AIDS kills 6,000 people and another 8,200 people are infected with the virus. Every 30 seconds, an African child dies of malaria—more than one million child deaths a year.

Each year, approximately 300 to 500 million people are infected with malaria. Approximately three million people die as a result. TB is the leading AIDS-related killer, and in some parts of Africa, seventy-five percent of people with HIV also have TB.


in sub-Saharan Africa, is actually problematic. Poverty in these two geographical areas is simply not the same thing.5 For instance, “the average per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa today is less than one twentieth of per capita income in the United States.”6 This has led most current statistical studies of poverty to employ a myriad of criteria and local adjustments to more precisely determine what it means to be poor. Some, for instance, define poverty according to its consequences, such as inadequate food resources, children not attending school, and social exclusion.7 Countries often define their poverty line as the income required to provide basic necessities, such as shelter, food, clothing, and other essential items.8 The United Nations Millennium Project sums the situation up this way:

More than one billion people in the world live on less than one dollar a day. Another 2.7 billion struggle to survive on less than two dollars per day. Poverty in the developing world, however, goes far beyond income poverty. It means having to walk more than one mile everyday simply to collect water and firewood; it means suffering diseases that were eradicated from rich countries decades ago. Every year, eleven million children die—most, under the age of five, and more than six million from completely preventable causes like malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia. In some deeply impoverished nations, less than half of the children are in primary school, and under twenty percent go to secondary school. Around the world, a total of 114 million children do not get even a basic education and 584 million women are illiterate.9


More than 800 million people go to bed hungry every day ... 300 million are children. Of these 300 million children, only eight percent are victims of famine or other emergency situations. More than ninety percent are suffering long-term malnourishment and micro-nutrient deficiency.

Every 3.6 seconds, another person dies of starvation. The large majority are children under the age of five.


More than 2.6 billion people—over forty percent of the world’s population—do not have basic sanitation. More than one billion people still use unsafe sources of drinking water. Four, out of every ten people in the world, do not have access even to a simple latrine. Five million people, mostly children, die each year from water-borne diseases.


In 1960, Africa was a net exporter of food; today the continent imports one-third of its grain.

More than forty percent of Africans do not even have the ability to obtain sufficient food on a day-to-day basis. Declining soil fertility, land degradation, and the AIDS pandemic have led to a twenty-three percent decrease in food production per capita in the last twenty-five years, even though population has increased dramatically.

For the African farmer, conventional fertilizers cost two to six times more than the world market price. Spring 2011 EmbracE 5

The devastating effect of poverty on women Over eighty percent of farmers in Africa are women.

More than forty percent of women in Africa do not have access to basic education.

If a girl is educated for six years or more, then as an adult, her prenatal care, postnatal care and childbirth survival rates, will dramatically and consistently improve. Educated mothers are fifty percent more likely to immunize their children than mothers who are not educated.

AIDS spreads twice as quickly among uneducated girls than among girls that have even some schooling.

The children of a woman with five years of primary school education have a survival rate forty percent higher than children of women with no education.

A woman living in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth. This compares with a similar risk factor of 1 in 3,700 for a woman in North America. Every minute, a woman somewhere dies in pregnancy or childbirth, amounting to 1,400 women dying each day—an estimated 529,000 each year—from pregnancyrelated causes. Almost half of births in developing countries take place without the help of a skilled birth attendant.

Is Progress Being Made?

According to the United Nations Development Project (UNDP), there has been tremendous progress in fighting worldwide poverty..11 For instance:

The number of people living under the international poverty line of $1.25 a day declined from 1.8 billion to 1.4 billion between 1990 and 2005. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty in developing regions dropped from forty-six percent to twenty-seven percent — on track to meet the target globally.

About one in four children under the age of five is underweight in the developing world, down from almost one in three in 1990.

True Progress, or Fuzzy Math?

One of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals was to reduce extreme poverty and hunger by half between 1990 and 2015.12 While the UN has touted apparent success regarding this goal, some critics have pointed out a flaw in the calculations.

It is true that worldwide numbers regarding poverty have fallen from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 1.4 billion as of 2010, representing a decline of about 500 million people. Thus, according to the UN, the poverty reduction goal should easily be reached.13

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However, some believe that these statistics are misleading, because the same set of data also indicates that in China alone, poverty declined by 627 million people. This means that elsewhere, there was a net increase in poverty by 127 million people.14

In sub-Saharan Africa for instance, poverty increased from 1990-2005 by some 90 million people. This, too, can be misleading. In truth, the population also increased dramatically over this same period. Thus, if we express this same number in percentages, we find that poverty in sub-Saharan Africa dropped from 58%-51%.15 Even so, this region of the world is lagging far behind other areas, such as Asia, when it comes to eliminating poverty. To say that worldwide poverty is declining – even though technically this is true – does not present an accurate picture. Such conclusions can lead to false assumptions about the realities of poverty in places where decline is less apparent, or even non-existent. The earlier statement that global poverty is inherently difficult to define, is thus confirmed. Still, these numbers do assist in grasping the magnitude of the situation and in identifying those areas among the world’s community of nations where significant work remains.

There is clearly a need for critical evaluation of all statistics, and care to be taken in using them ethically and cautiously. | _______________________________________________ 1

See World Bank, “About Us” at


Ibid, 11-13.



5 6 7 8 9

Abhijit V. Banerjee, Roland Benabou, and Dilip Mookherjee. Understanding Poverty, (Oxford UniversityPress, 2006), xiii; “Poverty Around The World,” Global Issues, http://www. /article/4/poverty-around-the-world (accessed December 9, 2011).

See Duncan Green, “From Poverty to Power,” (accessed December 9, 2011); “United States: Measure by measure; Defining poverty.” The Economist, January 22, 2011, 36-37. (accessed December 9, 2011). Banerjee, et. al., 12-13. Banerjee, et. al., 19.

“Global Poverty Guide”, One World, Ibid.

Millennium Project, “Fast Facts: The Faces of Poverty,”




“Millennium Development Goals,” millenniumgoals/poverty.shtml.


“Is Global Poverty Reduction a Political Myth?”, IPS


United Nations Development Program, “Where do we stand?” content/undp/en /home/mdgoverview/mdg_goals/mdg1/Where_do_we_stand.html.


World Bank, TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/0 ,,contentMDK:21881954~menuPK:336998~pagePK:64020865~piPK:149114~theSite PK:336992,00.html.


“Global Povety Guide,”

Caption for this photo placed here.

Jesus, in His own words, linked his anointed mission with the poor of this world: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor� (Luke 4:18, NASB). With such high and visible importance to those living in poverty, how should we, today, view this dilemma? How should we respond to it in His name, representing Him to this generation? ________________________________


ow poverty is defined will always prescribe the strategy to deal with it.

Most people say that poverty is a lack of money, food, or housing. In fact, most Western strategies place a strong focus on financial aid, food programs, or construction projects for housing and schools for poverty alleviation. Some economists, however, are of the opinion that, in spite of an estimated $2.3 trillion of aid flowing into Africa over the past 60 years, there is very little to show for it 1. Some of this ineffectiveness likely stems from corruption and administrative failure that prevents the money from ever reaching those most in need. The point to be made is that Spring 2011 EmbracE 7

poverty is a complex problem. Although financial resources can be helpful, rarely does money alone solve the problem. Some would further simplify the issue by erroneously concluding that sin is the cause of poverty. There is no doubt that mankind’s rejection of God’s grace has led to all forms of distress, disease and deficiency. Ultimately, poverty is a product of a world in rebellion against God. Spiritual matters do, indeed, play a role in the solution to poverty. Therefore, it is vitally important that people understand the message of redemption through Christ.

However, throughout Africa and around the world, people who love God deeply and serve Him faithfully still suffer illnesses, experience significant risk factors to their wellbeing, and live in material poverty. And the Church, if it is to be biblical, must address all of these issues.

Bryant Meyers, writing in Walking with the Poor, defines the causes of poverty clearly: “Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings.”2The biblical concept of shalom is one of the most prominent themes in Scripture. It refers to being in right relationship with God and others, and enjoying physical and financial security as the product of God’s blessing (see Gen. 29:6; Num. 6:2426; Isa. 57:18). DEFINING GOOD NEWS

If poverty can be defined by the absence of shalom, then the Good News is the presence of shalom.

When Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, He proclaimed

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that He had good news for the poor; God had created a way to restore the image of God in us, and to repair our isolation and broken relationships. That must be the beginning of our understanding of Jesus in Luke 4:18 … The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to preach the Gospel (good news) to the poor.

In a fascinating chapter in their book, “Mission as Transformation,” authors Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden pose the question, “So what’s so good about the good news to the poor?3” Sugden recounts the story of visiting missionaries who worked with people making their living off the garbage dumps of their city. When asked who they were, they replied, “We are nobodies”. But those missionaries were committed to those people, and demonstrated it by building a school for their children on the dumps. When Sugden asked them to name the greatest transformation they were seeing in this group of people, the missionary pointed to the fact that they no longer referred to themselves as “nobodies”. In other words, they had come to see through the love of Christ shown to them that they were somebody in the eyes of God and in the eyes of His people. Spiritual transformation often begins when the love of God breaks through to those who may have previously viewed themselves as being unlovable. Such transformation helps them see their value in the eyes of their Creator. Jesus said that loving God and loving our neighbors are the two greatest commandments (Luke 10:27). For one hundred years, our global Pentecostal missionary endeavors have succeeded in empowering the church in the Global South to understand this essential part of total transformation: the transformation of the human heart.


Believers across Africa now excel in evangelism and church planting. A century ago, the church of the Global South represented only 10% of the Global Christian Church. Today, that percentage has increased to more than 70%.4 Africa has been an integral part of that growth. We must not, however, grow too comfortable in this success. There remains much work to be done, and especially so, in two significant areas: discipleship, and holistic engagement. DISCIPLESHIP

The logical progression to the transformation of an individual’s heart includes the ongoing transformation of their character by the Holy Spirit. The Redeemed should grow in their Christian lifestyle. Discipleship is as important to the continent of Africa as to any other region of the world. Care must be taken to assure that popular and successful evangelism ministry does not overshadow, or even inhibit, effective discipleship. The presence of growing, progressing, maturing believers is, indeed, good news to Africa! HOLISTIC ENGAGEMENT

There is a logical progression of spiritual transformation of individual lives in the African Church, through discipleship development. It encompasses integrated transformation of the whole person, maximizing the faith community’s treasure trove of available knowledge, assets, and skills necessary to combat poverty, disease, and ignorance. Following Jesus in His mandate to bring good news to the poor, the church must engage in education programs, skills training, and poverty alleviation.

The church, called to proclaim and propagate Christ’s good news, should be a bulwark of hope against the scourges of malaria, HIV/AIDS, and malnutrition. Christ’s church should be concerned about job creation and other effective means of assuring that families are healed and kept whole.

Biblically, in the pattern of Christ’s good news, the Church should be known as a sure place of safety and acceptance for the widows and the orphans, and those who have been enslaved by the sex trade. With an authentic burden for the poor, in the pattern of Jesus, the Church needs to become the place where people can learn skills, develop business plans, and catch the vision for wholeness and justice for their nations.

Effectively confronting poverty – with any hope of breaking the bondage thereof, will require new approaches, and new strategies with the worthy goal of integrated (holistic) transformation. It is understood and underlined that we will always need pastors and evangelists. They are

essential to our task as the Body of Christ. Yet, more than ever before, we need teachers and farmers as well. Africa needs engineers, nurses, business people, and community workers. We need IT specialists and business coaches. We need a new breed of socio-missional entrepreneurs. Equipped with a love for God, and a commitment to adequately represent our God to the peoples of Africa, Holy Spirit-inspired creativity will enable them to find answers to complex social and economic issues. This is the type of intervention that could become VERY GOOD news for the poor! There is no quick or easy method for dealing with poverty. Yet, by setting forth a better definition, we can begin to address it appropriately and holistically. Only then, can God grant us the broad African Renaissance that we so desperately desire from Him. | ____________________________________________________________________

Editor’s Note:

The Global North refers to the 57 countries with high human development that have a Human Development Index above .8, as reported in the United Nations Development Program Report 2005. Most, but not all, of these countries are located in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Global South refers to the countries of the rest of the world, most of which are located in the Southern Hemisphere. It includes both countries with medium human development (88 countries with a Human Development Index less than .8 and greater than .5) and low human development (32 countries with an HDI of less than .5). Some twenty countries do not provide information necessary to develop their HDI. Seven of these probably belong in the high human development category. (Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Taiwan, and the Vatican State.) Thus defined, the Global South is made up of some 133 countries out of a total of 197. Most of the Global South block is located in South and Central America, Africa, and Asia.

See William Easterly’s, “White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good” (2007) and Dambisa Moyo’s “Dead Aid: Why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa” (2010).


Bryant L. Myers, “Walking with the Poor: Principles and practices of transformational development”, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999, p. 86.

2 3

Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden, “Mission as Transformation” (2009)

4 Phillip Jenkins, “The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity” (3rd Edition, 2011)

Johan Mostert

Johan Mostert is a native of Southnurse Africa. Suzanne Hurst is a registered For the past eight years, he has served living in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of as Professor of Community Psychology Congo in Central Africa. She works with at the Assemblies of God Theological local churches on developing community Seminary in Springfield, MO. His book, healthtoand HIV/AIDS “How become HIV+:ministries. Guidelines for PHOTO RIGHTS: LEFT: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM the Local Church” was published by Kerus Global Education in 2011.

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ith excitement in her voice, a missionary friend described the phenomenal growth of the churches in sub-Saharan Africa. Gradually, though, her smile faded as she leaned closer to confide, “It is great to see the churches growing, but I am concerned about the lack of discipleship. The African church leaders asked me to find a discipleship program that I can take back with me to help.” The underlying assumption is that there should be a “How to Make Disciples” manual. Unfortunately, a written manual is often not enough to transform the character of young believers.

While effective discipleship patterns have been observed in oral cultures, 1 this article focuses on holistic discipleship that integrates community development. I will first define holistic discipleship and then describe how this process is applied in various contexts to demonstrate that holistic discipleship helps followers of Jesus to: 1. Experience the ultimate God addressing their intimate daily needs. 2. Identify areas of poverty that are often overlooked and which may stunt the discipleship process if not recognized and addressed.

3. Engage the long-term process of community growth from relief to sustainability in order to foster personal and community transformation.


“Discipleship” is a process whereby Jesusfollowers center their lives on the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33) and obey Christ’s commands in the cultures in which they live (Matt. 28:1920). As they encounter daily issues, they respond in a manner that is both biblically faithful and culturally relevant in order to maintain a kingdom-centered life. 2 This lifelong process forms mature followers of Christ who overcome the extremes of syncretism (culture is not critiqued, thereby blending two faith systems) and isolation (culture is rejected). Holistic discipleship also addresses “split-level

Christianity,” 3 in which Christianity responds to merely the ultimate life issues (e.g., salvation, problem of evil, etc.), but neglects intimate life issues (e.g., sickness, finding/keeping a spouse, etc.). The latter are then left to be addressed by other sources such as African Traditional Religions.

“Holistic” implies a concern for the totality of life instead of being limited to certain “spiritual” areas. This means that both the ultimate and the intimate issues of life are important to God. This is modeled by the incarnation, in which God demonstrated a concern for both by sending the divine Son of God to preach good news and address poverty/justice issues (Luke 4:18-19).

The Micah Network uses the term “integral mission” to indicate that both the proclamation (words) and demonstration (deeds) of the gospel need to be integrated. 4 A holistic perspective reminds us that the combination of words and deeds are crucial for Christian witness and discipleship. 5

Combining the two terms, “holistic discipleship” is a process whereby Jesus-followers center their lives on the Kingdom of God and obey Christ’s commands by integrating the words and deeds of Jesus in the development of their community. Practically speaking, holistic discipleship addresses questions like, “How do we transform Christians who are shaped by unspoken cultural influences like secularism, consumerism, individualism, or fatalism?” and “Where should discipleship start for those living in povertystricken communities?” Holistic discipleship even addresses intimate concerns like “Can Christ save my marriage?”




In holistic discipleship, the maturing follower of Christ experiences how the ultimate God addresses intimate human needs (Zahniser 1997, 41). Instead of separating our activities into the two categories of secular work vs. spiritual work, holistic discipleship anticipates that a change in “secular” areas of life will create changes in “spiritual” areas of life. Spring 2011 EmbracE 11

To describe how this is carried out in discipleship, an understanding of the “functional integration” of culture is helpful. For the purposes of understanding a local culture, culture can be divided into three major sectors. In this model, each of the pie pieces represents major sectors of a culture that must be explored and researched in order to understand the local culture (see Figure 1).7

The joy in the women’s eyes brought a smile to my face and a realization of the wisdom in the elders’ words. While skeptics may claim that well-digging is secular work, holistic disciple-makers realize that there is no secular work… unless you make it that way. A new well began an obvious change in the Economics & Technology sector. This led to a change in the Social Relationships sector as well, since the relationships between husbands and wives (and the entire family) were affected. This, then, created a change in the Ideology & Belief sector as the elders saw the positive role of the church and how the ultimate God is concerned about the intimate needs of newlyweds. Holistic discipleship helped the young men and new brides further their growth in faith as they appreciated the God who cares enough about their marriages to send a church to help. While holistic discipleship benefits the poor with clean water, it also helps those who classify themselves as “nonpoor” to identify areas of their own poverty.

These sectors are functionally integrated such that a change in one will result in a change in another. In order to create a change in the ideology and belief of a maturing Christian, for example, holistic disciple-makers do not have to start in the Ideology & Beliefs sector. Introducing a change in other sectors will create a change in ideology and belief.

Example: The Bible Church of Africa and SIM introduced a hand-dug well program in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Villagers worked with church members to dig and construct wells. At the well dedication in the village of Kalijiisa, villagers came from near and far dressed in their Sunday best. The sunflower yellows and electric blues of their clothing swirled against a backdrop of a massive Baobob tree. Dancing under the shade of the tree, the women kept time with the beat of the pounding drum. Children smiled in delight as the music filled the air. Handkerchiefs were hoisted in the air and waved about in celebration of this joyous occasion. Everyone from white-haired men to babies carried on their mothers’ backs gathered around the well. Slowly, the elders came forward and announced, “We thank the church for this new well. Now, we are confident that our newly-married wives will not leave us!” I stared blankly from face to face. Confused, I asked the elders for an explanation.

They continued, “The first morning after the wedding, a young bride was asked to fetch water. She had to walk a long way to get water from a place where the water was not clean. This alarmed her so much that she quickly ran home to her father’s house and did not come back again. Now that the well is close to the house and has clean water, the new wives will stay.” 12 EmbracE Spring 2011


While poverty is often defined by one sector (Economics & Technology) as a lack of basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter, this definition overlooks poverty that exists in other sectors. Considering Figure 1, what would poverty look like if it occurred in the other two sectors of culture? Bryant Myers describes “non-poor” poverty as those who are wealthy in Economics & Technology but are lacking in other sectors. Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert use the term “non-material poverty.”8 Poverty can also be defined by broken relationships.9 If a lack of caring, trusting relationships exists, this leads to poverty in the Social Relationships sector. If poverty in this sector is not addressed, then discipleship is stunted.

Example 1: After a short-term mission trip to help the poor, an American youth asked me, with astonishment in her voice, “Why are those poor kids so happy with so little?” As she considered her own “non-poor” poverty in the Social Relationships sector, she was forced to challenge the Western assumptions of secularism and consumerism that promise happiness through the purchase of a Louis Vuitton purse, a BMW car, or an iPhone. Here is a shocking revelation: perhaps that large suburban home in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine can lead to isolation, loneliness, and eventually depression, thereby creating “non-poor” poverty in the Social Relationships sector. Holistic discipleship exposes “non-poor” poverty and creates an environment for deep learning and kingdom focus.

Similarly, Myers notes that people who live in fear have a different form of poverty. They may be afraid of evil spirits, government, neighbors, etc. As a result, they stifle initiative and breed fatalism.10 This is poverty in the Ideology & Beliefs

sector. Since poverty is not limited to one sector, discipleship must identify and address poverty issues that are preventing them from living kingdom-centered lives. Example 2: The Sioux Falls Seminary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, embarked on a bold holistic discipleship contextual learning experiment in 2008. A large house, called the Summit House, was purchased in an area of the city targeted for revitalization due to high crime, low incomes, etc. Seminary students voluntarily moved into the house in order to become servant leaders for Christ in this at-risk community.

Since the neighborhood composition was multi-ethnic, students learned intercultural ministry and community development through a combination of seminary courses and practical experiences in the neighborhood. In addition to spiritual formation classes, they committed to spend at least five hours per week in ministry to the community. Not only did the students have a significant impact in the development of this neighborhood, but they were also challenged in areas that were previously neglected, thereby revealing their own “non-poor” poverty. For instance, many students realized that the high Western value of privacy led to a “poverty” of community with others (Social Relationships sector), but they did not realize the roots of this lie in the Ideology/Beliefs sector.

By living and serving in a missional location, they started to understand how privacy and community are in inverse relationship to one another. Clinging to a high value of privacy (an unchallenged American value) resulted in a low degree of community with others. See Figure 2.

of holistic discipleship, their “non-poor” poverty in the Ideology & Beliefs sector was exposed, leading to lifestyle transformation.


Holistic discipleship also reveals that discipleship is a longterm process of community growth, which may not be evident in a short-term individualistic culture clamoring for instant results. It recognizes that individuals do not exist in isolation; rather, we are part of larger systems. Healthy, maturing disciples often arise from healthy, maturing communities. This requires the holistic disciple-maker to look at the larger community growth process that leads the community toward wholeness.

Tetsunao Yamamori noted that there are four stages in the community growth process. Each stage requires holistic disciple-makers to respond differently.11 While both words and deeds are required throughout; the proportion of each varies, based on the stage in the growth process. See Figure 3. The x-axis refers to the stage of community growth; the y-axis refers to the amount of ministry focus on words and deeds. At the relief stage, the focus on deeds is much higher than words. Moving further along the growth process, the amount of ministry through words increases as the ministry through deeds decreases.

Example 1: Shortly after Hurricane Katrina occurred, seminary students went to provide immediate relief. Deeds were required to stop the bleeding and keep people alive. In the process of performing these deeds, words were used to comfort, pray, console, etc. Figure 3 anticipates that the amount of time spent on ministry through deeds would exceed ministry through words during the relief stage. A year later, the seminary students returned. This time, however, they found the community in the second stage, recovery. At the recovery stage, there were still a fair amount of deeds needed (e.g., reinstalling drywall and repairing roofs) in order to restore the community to the level of

To achieve a high sense of community, privacy must be reduced. In practice, this means being available to sit with neighbors, having a meal with others, and spending more time in “community locations.”

The students eventually realized that the benefit of having more emotional strength through community significantly outweighed the cost of reducing their privacy. This shift in ideology did not occur simply by reading books. As a result Spring 2011 EmbracE 13

development that existed prior to the hurricane. However, the amount of time spent on ministry through words significantly increased through counseling, listening to stories, praying, etc.

In the third stage, development, time spent on physical deeds further decreases because those ministering discuss strategies to further improve the community and prepare for any similar future events. The last stage, sustainability, occurs when the local community has the capacity to respond to future emergencies. At this stage, they are also a resource for others by sharing their experiences and lessons learned. The role of disciple-makers here is to minister primarily through words. Problems often occur when people come for a short-term mission and disregard the stage of community growth.

Example 2: Each summer, short-term teams visit the Rosebud Lakota Sioux Native American Reservation in South Dakota. When they view the state of houses, transportation, and lack of amenities, they assume this is a relief context. After all, if their neighborhoods looked this way, this would be a crisis! As a result, they spend most of their time ministering through deeds (building, painting, repairing, etc.), with a minimal amount of ministry by words. While this would be appropriate for a relief situation, it is not appropriate for other stages of community growth. Many Native Americans, themselves, see their context as either in the recovery or development stage. They would prefer that outsiders spend more time developing relationships through conversation (more words along with deeds). When bringing a team to Rosebud, we informed the local ministry leader that we were available to learn and serve. For the entire week, they were happy to teach us their culture, history, rituals, visit families, counsel at-risk youth, etc. They only asked us to serve with deeds for a small amount of time. As relationships were developed with succeeding visits, this led to more intimate and long-term engagement of pertinent discipleship issues. Understanding the various stages of development helps identify the appropriate focus on words and deeds for holistic discipleship.


Holistic discipleship that incorporates community development is often overlooked in many discipleship programs. In holistic discipleship, the ultimate God addresses intimate needs in ordinary areas of life, furthering trust in God. Areas of “non-poor” poverty are also exposed in order to address unspoken cultural assumptions. In addition,

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holistic disciple-makers consider the long-term community growth process from relief to sustainability.

While there is no “silver bullet” for the discipleship process, there is hope that holistic discipleship can help transform disciples of Christ, whether they are in an urban poor ethnic neighborhood, Native American reservation, African village, or disaster area. This approach helps engage the local culture with the words and deeds of Christ to transform individuals and communities. That is good news that cannot simply be learned from a discipleship manual. | ____________________________________________________________________





Corbett, Steve and Brian Fikkert. 2009. When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Ourselves. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Publishers.

Hiebert, Paul G. 1994. “The Category Christian in the Mission Task.” in Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues. Ed. Paul Hiebert. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

Hiebert, Paul G., R. Daniel Shaw, and Tite Tienou. 1999. Understanding Folk Religion: A Christian Response to Popular Beliefs and Practices. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books. Hughes, Dewi. 2008. Power and Poverty: Divine and Human Rule in a World of Need. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

Kraft, Charles H. 1996. Anthropology for Christian Witness. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis.

5 6

7 8 9

Micah Network. 2001. “Micah Declaration on Integral Mission.” Paper read at in Oxford.

Moon, W. Jay. 2010. “Discipling through the Eyes of Oral Learners.” Missiology: An International Review 38(2):127-140.

Myers, Bryant L. 1999. Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis.

Parris, Matthew. 2008. “As an Atheist, I Truly Believe Africa Needs God.” Times Online. Accessed May 20, 2011 from comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article5400568.ece.

10 11 12

Whiteman, Darrell L. 2001. Definitions of Culture. Unpublished class notes, “MB 700 Anthropology for Christian Mission.”

Yamamori, Tetsunao. 1993. Penetrating Missions’ Final Frontier: A New Strategy for Unreached Peoples. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press. Zahniser, A.H. Mathias. 1997. Symbol and Ceremony: Making Disciples across Cultures, Innovations in Mission. Monrovia, Calif.: MARC.

“Why didn’t we get any socks or belts?” the leper spokesman asked.

“We have these nice pants and shirts but no belts. How are we supposed to hold our pants up?” These seemed like ludicrous statements to me. Here we were out in an isolated jungle mission station, in Zaire, Africa (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), many miles from anywhere, an eight-hour drive to the nearest town, nothing but forest all around, and this person had previously been wearing rags. Now suddenly, there was tension and anger in the air because the dear ladies in the United States who had sent clothing had not thought to include belts or socks, or more personally, the two missionary ladies in front of this man had not thought to ask for socks and belts. “How could we have been so thoughtless?” was the clear implication. What was this man really saying? What was the underlying anger that I thought I heard? What was that steely look in his and the others’ eyes that didn’t reflect the gratitude that was verbally expressed? Was it similar to what the Creekside Community Church members reported when they delivered Christmas presents to the poor families in their community and noted that fathers often went out

the back door, too ashamed to see strangers giving their children the gifts that they were unable to buy for their children?

Persons were acting out of the compassion of their hearts in both of the above examples, yet something was going awry between the giving and the receiving.


Often as outsiders, we see need through our cultural filters. Not being part of the culture to which we are sent, we cannot, at first, completely understand the root causes for the needs that we see.

We see that children are hungry, abandoned, on the streets, seemingly orphaned, and homeless, and our hearts are immediately touched and filled with compassion for their plight. We see shanty towns and slums, and hundreds upon hundreds of people living in poverty conditions, and we cannot sleep at night from the sights that we have seen. We walk through hospitals and see people dying from AIDS and TB and malaria, and know that there have to be answers to these issues. We travel to rural areas and see that people have no clean water or sanitation, and immediately think of wells that could be dug and latrines Spring 2011 EmbracE 15

that could be constructed. We see school houses that are made of mud and falling down, and churches in ill-repair, and our mind goes to the construction teams that could so easily and quickly put up school and church buildings. Coming from a world of “have” to a world of “have not,” from a world where most things can be fixed to worlds where it seems that the problems just keep getting bigger, can be pretty overwhelming.

Often, our initial response is somewhat kneejerk when confronted with need, and we begin to try to solve some of the immediate problems that we see. To rescue. To be the provider. Though these are very understandable responses, they are usually not very successful ones, and usually not very sustainable. Often, these types of responses leave the responder worn out and soon without resources. It also, usually, does nothing to actually address the root problem causing the issue, and doesn’t increase the capacity of the people involved. It also, in many cases, may actually do more harm than good in that it lessens the dignity of those involved by making them recipients of charity rather than participants in solutions.


How do we truly know what people want and need? Ask them. We really do need to enter into dialogue with people when we are outsiders to understand what they want and need. But it is not a street corner conversation. Before we begin talking about need, it is important to begin the conversation with what is positive. What is working for them? What is best about their lives? What are they happy about? What brings satisfaction? If we jump right into needs conversations then we immediately establish an imbalance—they are in deficit somehow. More will be said about eliciting assets in later chapters, but it is always good to begin relationship building with the “haves,” not the “have-nots.”

There are many ingredients that need to be present before a true understanding can occur and/or a true partnership effort can develop that can be mutually beneficial and have long-term impact.

1. Establishing Trust—Before either the givers or recipients of help can know how or what to do together, it is essential that they trust each other. Trust does not happen without time together. Covey (2009) points out that low trust slows everything, every decision, every communication. It creates hidden agendas, interpersonal conflicts, defensive and protective communication in every relationship. Having trust, on the other hand, gives a sustaining quality of life to all relationships, he feels, changing and affecting every effort in which we are engaged. People begin to trust individuals, groups, and churches when they see: - Consistency

- Integrity at every strata of interaction - Honesty

- Follow-through - Results

- True caring (which becomes evident over time as trust is established) 2. Listening—As the above characteristics are being demonstrated, an important ingredient that speeds the process of building trust is when people realize that they are valued by those who want to help. One of the ways this can be shown is when those in need understand that their voice matters. Rarely is the input of those that are poor sought. So often, interventions are done “to” or “for” the poor, not with them. When recipients of any intervention are actually involved in the decision-making process of their own solutions, it communicates to them that their opinion matters, therefore, they also matter. The only way that can occur is through listening. Cross-cultural listening is often difficult, as filters do not always allow for true hearing to occur. Language barriers can also distort the message. But an honest effort to ask open-ended questions that have a true intent of seeking the opinions, involvement, and solutions from those who are in need, truly communicates a message of value to the poor and helps to create an atmosphere of cooperation and trust. It is critically important if an effective, long-term impact to any problem is being sought.

3. Assessment—Because of the importance of finding out what people want and need, an entire chapter will be dedicated to the discussion of assets and needs assessment. But critically important to include in this chapter is the idea that somewhere along the way, together, there will be a formal or informal assessment of what is available and what is needed. It is a step that is often missed and can cause a lot of wasted time and money in the long run. Recently, on a relief trip, this step was missed. A container of food that had to be prepared by cooking was PHOTO RIGHTS: ABOVE: AFRICA AG CARE BY PERMISSION 16 EmbracE Spring 2011

sent to people who had lost their houses, their stoves, and their dishes. Needless to say, it didn’t make those affected too happy when they stood in line a long time to receive something they couldn’t use. A quick assessment done on the ground with the people involved in the crisis would have avoided that huge, expensive mistake.

4. Participation in Solutions—What prompts you to give more? The person sitting by the road with a sign that says, “Hungry, please give,” or the one that says, “Willing to work for food”? Most people would probably think that the person who is willing to work might be a little more worthy of their donation. In any case, most people truly want to be a part of solving their own problems. Research in refugee camps following disasters has shown that the sooner people can be involved in some type of work to try to put some order back into their existence, the sooner they begin to heal from the trauma of what has occurred. It seems to help give them back a sense of control when so much of their lives has suddenly gone out of control.

Persons who live in chronic need and poverty often feel like life is out of control all of the time. When others come and want to help but give them little opportunity for opinion, voice or participation in the solutions, much less to allow the solutions to come from them, their sense of being out of control can be heightened. Even though the help might be needed and appreciated at some level, as in the Christmas presents for the children mentioned earlier, there is still a sense of helplessness that is not addressed, and even advanced by their lack of inclusion. By giving voice, and then by participation and facilitating people to be a part of the design and implementation of their own solutions, ownership of the end result emerges. The greatest benefit, of course, is that people begin to take pride in what they accomplish for themselves. If children have Christmas presents, or more importantly, food to eat, parents can feel good about being the providers. Their self-esteem at having accomplished the role of a providing parent has heightened and they own what they have participated in. By doing everything for them, we rob them of that ownership and sense of accomplishment. What parent wouldn’t rather present their child with a new coat than have someone else give the child a coat?

I remember when vaccines became available in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Many children died each year from the complications of measles, so it was indeed good news that the government was providing free measles vaccine. Getting the vaccine to bush areas and keeping it cold, however, was no small challenge for us, the transporters of the vaccine. I recall a time when we got stuck in a mud hole for many hours, and our hearts sank as we knew that that batch of vaccine would be useless by the time we reached our destination. In any case, in the village where my co-worker and I resided, we decided to give the organization of the vaccination program over to the villagers. It was led by the pastor and women’s group.

We simply stated that we’d provide vaccines for the entire area if they could come up with a schedule, an incentive to get the women to come with the babies, and organize the whole thing, which they did wonderfully well. The next year, when very few babies were lost due to measles, it was they who felt good about saving their own kids. Not the white person—not the outsiders, but they themselves who had taken pride and ownership in the process and the results.

And back to the lepers. How could we have handled that scenario differently? What could have been happening that caused that seeming undercurrent of anger? I cannot recall at any time in my dealings with these wonderful people, having a meeting with them where we just sat down and talked about what they really needed. Though we often went to their village and dressed their wounds and took bandages to them, we offered Bible studies and spoke in their little church and even dined with their pastor, we never really sat with them as a group and just said, “So, how are you doing?” and “What are the things that concern you most?” These are people missing limbs and noses and fingers and toes, but I have to wonder if some of their responses might have been something like, “We worry about our children and what will become of them,” or “It’s really hard for us to keep our houses built because, with our limited mobility, we can’t cut the trees for the walls and the leaves for the roofs.” It grieves me to this day that we never had those conversations. I’m sure that at some level they did appreciate the clothes, but given the amount of money it took to get those clothes there, I think about all we could have accomplished together if we would have sat down and had a plan, their plan, to put that money to what would have benefited them the most. Maybe we could have invested the money in something that would have multiplied it so that they could have hired someone to cut trees for them, or started a small co-op, and if any was left over, we could have gotten used clothing brought in from the town down the road. But we never asked. We just assumed what they needed and then assumed their gratitude as well. |

Dr. JoAnn Butrin

Dr. JoAnn Butrin is a career missionary with Assemblies of God World Missions, currently serving as director of International Ministries.

Spring 2011 EmbracE 17

Nik White, a friend of mine, and College Pastor at Central Assembly of God, Springfield, Missouri, held out a thoughtful nugget of truth in a brief meditation a few days ago which has stuck with me.


know that, typically, we think of our eternal destination – “home” – at the end of life’s journey, a future time. But Nik was referring to the important issue of following Jesus all along life’s journey. His call to follow is just that: an imperative, permanent call. Of the multiple times Jesus pronounced that call, John 12:26 NIV, is significant: Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be…

Nik’s point is important. The call to follow is not from point A to point B, not for today, or for tomorrow. It is a permanent directive. And, the lyricists of an old hymn got it right: “Where He leads me, I will follow.”1 Following Him in service will, indeed, find us where He is. That includes encountering the poor, hungry, sick, disabled, marginalized people of our neighborhood and our world. Yes, following Jesus will ultimately lead us to encounter the reality of world poverty. He said, in what is referred to by some as His mission statement, The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor… Luke 4:18-19 NIV.

According to published statistics, 1.4 billion people in developing countries live on $1.25 a day – or less.2 Each day brings 22,000 child deaths worldwide caused by poverty issues.3 The hand of Jesus is there. We followers are those hands.

I knew poverty as a child. Yet … I didn’t know it. We were, indeed, poor, did without many things, and I remember my parent’s angst in the struggle to make ends meet. Yet, Mom and Dad had found a treasure in their encounter with Jesus; and, though we were financially poor, we were spiritually rich. 18 EmbracE Spring 2011

Uplift came to our family when Jesus became Lord of our home. In spite of a severely retarded firstborn child, my dad being harshly impacted by spinal arthritis at an early age, and the rigors of financial hardships all along the way, our home was filled with calm, peace, joy, dignity and self worth. I have seen that same atmosphere grow out of Africa’s poverty. Life does not magically become problem-free for Africans – or for anyone - who finds redemption. There is, however, uplift – a surmounting of the things which drag so many down. Uplift came to our family when Jesus was welcomed, expressed by an ongoing, huge, activist compassion for the poor and needy. I reminisce as I write about the many acts of aggressive kindness I witnessed from my family through, and out of, our own financial hardships. Generosity, largesse, caring, activism were instilled in us – not as an occasional thing – as a lifestyle. Following Jesus is a lifestyle, serving Him by being where He is. No destination. No timeframe. Just follow. He will lead you to confront and bless the poor. | ____________________________________________________________________ Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow, E.W. Bandy, 19th Century Human Development Report, 2007/2008 3 UNICEF State of the World’s Children 2010Publishers. 1 2

Don Tucker: Editor

Don Tucker is a career Assemblies of God missionary to Africa, one of five area directors for the continent, director of Africa AG Care, and editor of Embrace.


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Winter 2012 Issue - Embrace Magazine  

The winter 2012 edition of Embrace magazine focuses on the complex issue of poverty in Africa and the Church's response.

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