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billion people lack improved sanitation

global vulnerable employment

of global population lives below the international poverty line

children die daily from poverty rated issues

Shortly after the fall of communism in Romania, images of children living in the deplorable conditions of state orphanages began to flood news agencies around the world. The extreme conditions of these children tethered to their cribs and lying in their own urine captured the heart of the West like nothing before. Obviously handicapped children were simply cast aside often without experiencing the touch of another human being. You could see in these small children’s faces the yearning for a simple touch or acknowledgment that they existed. The plight of these children caused many to rush to their aid. In 1991 when I lived in Craiova, Romania I was invited by World Vision to visit one of the local state orphanages. I took along with me a group of Romanians from our church to see the conditions of these orphans, many of whom were brought by their parents because they could not afford to care for them. I can remember thinking as we entered the building and smelling the stench of urine that no one should have to live in such conditions. In spite of the new found freedom in the country, many of the children continued to live in the same conditions as before. We walked through the orphanage and child after child stood in their crib with outstretched arms longing for attention. Others were curled up in a fetal position devoid of any emotion at all. The clearly handicapped were tethered to the side of their soiled beds in fear that they would somehow climb out. Occasionally we would hear the screaming of a nurse yelling at a child who could not even understand what precipitated the anger. While we never saw children getting hit, the verbal and emotional abuse was obvious.

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Some of the cutest children I had ever seen stood before me and I could hardly contain my emotions. I remember the pain I felt in my heart as I thought to myself that I couldn’t take seeing these children in this condition. The emotional pain was so great that it was all I could do to suppress it and stoically move from room to room until we left the orphanage. I vowed to myself that I would never go into another orphanage because I simply could not take feeling like my stomach was about to split when looking at the plight of those innocent children. Our church in Craiova, however, became extremely involved. The young people began to visit the orphanage on a weekly, if not daily, basis and they played with the children, held them and cared for them. They gave them the human touch that so many had never experienced and it was life changing as much for the young people as it was for the orphans. One of our church members eventually went to work for World Vision and cared for the children as if they were his own. On many occasions, he was instrumental in connecting an orphan with an adoptive parent and continued those relationships for years to come. Admittedly, there was a sense of pride that I found in the fact that I was able to get our church involve in the plight of these children. By passing the responsibility on to someone else I could go about guarding my emotions and focusing on the spiritual aspects of why I was in Romania in the first place. Over the years, however, I have learned that simply ignoring problems of social concern does not make them go away. In fact, I have learned that there is great danger to my own Christian life if I do not directly address such issues. In a very real sense, I have been on a twenty-year journey to learn about Christian social responsibility.

The formation of the Timothy Center for Sustainable Transformation is the culmination of years of understanding not only the plight of the marginalized, but also the Christian responsibility for being involved in raising the dignity and quality of life of those who are created in the image of God. That responsibility begins with an awareness of social issues, it is held accountable to the whole gospel and it acts as Jesus acted. We understand that our love for God and neighbor (Matt 22.36-40) and desire to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28.18-20) act as book ends to a Christian faith that considers the least of these (Matt 25.33-40). When Jesus taught is disciple to care for the marginalized he communicated in such a manner that he clearly identified himself with their conditions. In fact, he taught that the acts of kindness toward these brothers and sister were indeed acts toward him leaving us the understanding that there is something of Jesus in the marginalized. The concern for the least of these in Matthew 25 reminds us that not only are Christians created in the image of God, but the marginalized are also co-image bearers. I look back now on my ten years in Romania and realize that the orphan I passed by, or the child on the street begging for money, even the parent who was homeless, all bore the image of God. I did not have the luxury simply to walk by and ignore my fellow co-image bearer, but I did. It has been a difficult lesson that challenges me as we continue our work in Haiti, Nicaragua and Pine Ridge Indian Reservations, three of the poorest regions of the Western Hemisphere. The Timothy Center will not ignore the plight of the least of these and we hope that you will join us in making a difference in the lives of people.

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Our name reflects who we are. Timothy was the long time co-worker of the Apostle Paul who coauthored many of the New Testament letters and travelled the Roman world establishing communities of Christ-followers while teaching them Christian social responsibility. Timothy exemplifies what we mean by a social innovator. He equipped people to care for others, especially the vulnerable and dispossessed. He taught the wealthy to seek their significance in doing good, not in collecting the world's goods, which leads to ruin. He taught everyone to work diligently and honorably, with love and humility and so to imitate Christ. He knew that wrangling about silly issues was not conducive to social engagement. Instead, he encouraged and inspired people to be like Christ and it ultimately cost him his life.

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