Alliance Justice and Compassion resources and promotes the local and global ministries of The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada that seek to bring wholeness and well-being to people made vulnerable by circumstances of poverty, disaster, and injustice. May the stories and thoughts inspire the reader to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pigs + Prayer = Powerful Presence

On a recent trip to a Caribbean Island to visit our international workers and the microeconomic program they oversee, I was deeply impacted by what I experienced. Our 25 churches on this island are house churches.  
The pastors of these churches sacrifice their living space in their homes in order to provide a ‘sanctuary’ for their small congregations.  A wall knocked down between a living room and a bedroom creates a space large enough to hold some pews.  Many families then share one bedroom!  As many of the pastors and members of the congregations live in poverty, our team initiated a microeconomic program for church members several years ago. 
I walked through small communities visiting members’ projects – one after another:  some were raising pigs (the most common project), some growing crops, others sewing clothes, or painting furniture... the initiatives too varied to list them all here.  

Our leaders invited other denominations to participate and currently 20 churches from 7 denominations are involved.  The goal of the program is to provide financing for the poor so they can develop small businesses to help them out of poverty.  Another objective is to empower the national church to become economically self-sustaining through the tithes of their members.   As we visited with pastors and members they told me about a 24/7 prayer movement that has been birthed within this interdenominational relationship.  Their annual prayer retreat was attended by 280 pastors and leaders last time.  
Some of the microeconomic groups have started to include prayer and fasting at their weekly meetings. One of the pastors had the vision to invite people in the neighbourhood to participate in the micro program as a way to serve the community and express the love of Christ.  During the first 6 months of their involvement with the program, 20 community participants have made decisions to follow Jesus.  
One man told me that he sensed something very different in the people.  As he engaged with the small groups he soon came to know that it was the presence of Jesus that he was sensing.  He told me, “Now my life has been transformed; I am so thankful that they opened their group up to me!” 

I, too, discerned a powerful Presence in these believers.   Their passion for Jesus is contagious.  Through pigs and prayer, God is empowering His Church to impact that island nation!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

International Women's Day...For Many, Not Much to Celebrate

On March 8th the world is encouraged to celebrate International Women’s Day.  As I reflect on the reality for millions of women around the world, my heart is saddened for the fact that so many suffer injustices.  It is experienced in various forms such as: trafficked into the sex trade, prohibited from going to school, held in illiteracy, raped and abused,  forced to work in unsafe environments, chained in slavery, or even what might seem trivial, in light of the aforementioned - not allowed to drive a vehicle or to play sports.  As I have traveled and been exposed to many different cultures, it has become apparent that the only hope for these women is that Jesus would transform the worldviews of those that perpetrate these injustices. 

Worldview is defined as the way that someone sees and understands the world, especially in relation to their religious or political beliefs and ideas.   One aspect of a distorted (or sin affected) worldview sees women as second-class citizens, or even worse, valued less than property or animals – not worthy of having rights.  This ideology is one factor that precipitates unjust treatment.   Justice, from a biblical perspective, ensures all people are treated with dignity and fairness because all people are made in the image of God.

As I consider the ministries happening every day either by our global teams or local churches in Canada, I am encouraged by those that are intentionally ministering to girls and women that suffer injustices.  Whether offering literacy classes, vocational/skills training, maternal health education, goat-loaning, micro-economic opportunities, participating in the Defending Dignity initiative here in Canada (; as we are implementing these kinds ministries, we are ultimately reflecting a biblical worldview of Jesus’ love for and value of these individuals. 

So this month, as I think about the enormous issues women face in our world, I am motivated by Jesus, who declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Luke 4) As we continue Christ’s ministry of demonstrating and declaring this Good News, it is my prayer that the hearts and minds of the oppressors will also be transformed and that women who experience these injustices will truly be free!   

Friday, March 18, 2011

Compassion Ministries - Our Best Kept Secret

     Whether it is a poor widow in West Africa receiving loaner goats to start her own herd, or a hungry man that lives on the street being fed by a local church in Canada - these ministries are not the first thing you think about when you consider what the Christian and Missionary Alliance is.  In reality, the family of Alliance Churches in Canada is recapturing the strategic priority of justice and compassion that was a part of our genesis over 100 years ago.  We are on a journey towards restoring a biblical balance of experiencing and expressing the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ.
     I have been mandated with the task of nurturing, resourcing, and promoting this by communicating our stories, promoting opportunities for individuals and churches to engage, and providing avenues for dialoguing, reflecting theologically and sharing best practices.  
     This blog will be one avenue to highlight stories from both churches and global ministry teams.  Here is a list of the kinds of ministries that we are engaged in: 

  • Community Health Education 
  • Medical clinics
  • HIV/AIDS education and care
  • Microeconomics
  • Well / clean water projects
  • Animal loans
  • International food aid
  • Agricultural development
  • Literacy 
  • ESL (English as a Second Language)
  • Work among refugees
  • Education for refugee children
  • Work with girls at risk
  • Vocational training 
  • abandoned baby rescue
  • Care for terminally ill cancer patients
  • Food banks
  • Clothing banks
  • Cold weather shelters
  • Chaplaincy
  • Parish nursing

Watch for specific stories in the coming days...