Going to the Poorest of the Poor
Jesus told us that we would always have the poor with us. As Christians we are called to reach the poor and needy. Sometimes we feel unsure of what is most important. Is it evangelism? Is it mercy ministry? Can it be both? Or we ask ourselves “Can we reach the lost, and help the poor, doing both of these well?”
These are important questions. Jesus managed to feed the physically hungry as well as the spiritually hungry. He did all this with great grace that produced much lasting fruit!
Here is an encouraging story about one team who were determined to do both to the glory of God.
The team leader reports:
“At one time we started a successful community development project in Central America. Encouraged by the result, our family returned to the US to equip more YWAM teams to do the same.
“Our ‘two-handed’ plan combined mercy ministry and evangelism. That meant meeting physical and spiritual needs among the poor. In 1982 we held our first training course to multiply workers. It was part of a ministry we called, ‘Operation LORD.’ (Long Range Development).
Physical Hunger, Spiritual Hunger
“Over time, we learned more and more about how to serve the poor. Soon something became clear. The poorest people in the world live in places where there is no gospel witness. And of course there are no churches!
“God was stirring the hearts of our staff and the entire YWAM Center in Tacoma, Washington. We were moved when we saw that these unreached poor are ‘without hope and without God.’ (Ephesians 2:12)
“Our plan was to find the poorest country on our side of the world. Then we would go to the least reached people group in that country. It took many weeks of research. Finally we decided upon Bolivia and had a list of several unreached tribes.”
A Happy Surprise
“We learned so much. A few of the ‘unreached’ tribes on our list had actually been reached! We visited one church in the high Andes, led by the local believers. We were happy to find them spiritually healthy and strong. Later, we met missionaries who were working among another tribe in the upper Amazon. These told us that their work was completed and they were moving on. There was no need for us to go where God was already using the local believers.”
“Finally we found a Bolivian tribe that was truly unreached and needed outside help. Later that year we sent a pioneering team.
“Our goal was to find those with the greatest physical and spiritual need. The process was slow and difficult back then. That is why we are so grateful for 4k resources now.* It has such potential! Today, we want to focus on our efforts to reach those who know nothing about Jesus. But we also care about people who are suffering. They may lack clean water, food, hygiene and other necessities of life. The 4k framework is a tool to point us in the right direction.
Let’s Go Where No One Has Gone!
“We have a growing vision in YWAM to pioneer where we are not. In many omega zones, it isn’t just that we YWAM, are not there. (After all, we are building God’s Kingdom- not a YWAM empire.) Rather, we the body of Christ, are not even there. These unreached peoples are our top priority. The 4k project helps us find them, pray for them, go to them, and see God bless them!
It’s About Fruit That Will Last!
“God’s kingdom has been spreading among that Bolivian tribe for many years now. The churches and community projects were begun by foreign helpers. But now all are led by local people! The leaders of the team are beginning to train Bolivians and other South Americans. These men and women will be working in Central Asia!”
A Prayer Of Thanksgiving
Lord, thank You for the work You have been doing in the midst of this tribal group in Bolivia. Continue to draw more of their people into a relationship with You. And we pray that You will multiply Your community transforming work throughout their region.
Thank You also for the resources available to help us reach the poor and unreached today. We are especially grateful for the access that the 4k tool brings to the Body of Christ. Help us to use these resources wisely as we follow You to the places where Your Name is still not known!
Would You Like to Go Where the Need is Greatest?
A good place to start is the 4K Global Mapping Project. There are many resources there. 4K can help you identify those who are least reached by the gospel and without basic resources. The site divides the world according to spiritual needs, population, and physical needs. There are about 4000, which is why it is called “4K”.
The Lord longs that everyone should hear. He cares about the poor and needy. Make yourself available to be part of the answer!