Love Thy Neighbor
Originally posted at: http://agmp-na.org/2017/06/14/love-thy-neighbor/
ARDF went to the 2017 Justice Conference in Chicago last week. The theme was “Love Thy Neighbor.”
While many of us might think of doing justice work as an add-on to the real work of spreading the Gospel, several conference speakers – including Scott Arbeiter of World Relief and Pastor Ed Rene Kivitz of Agua Branca Baptist Church in São Paulo, Brazil – reiterated that justice work IS the work of the Gospel. We believe that because of the Fall, the world as we know it is broken. Seeking justice is – at its core – working to make what is wrong, right. If we want to be doing God’s work here on earth, we must accept this as our mission: to make what is wrong, right.
ARDF has been spreading peace and justice for over a decade, knowing that there is no clear division between the spiritual side and the physical side of a person. ARDF Global Trustee Archbishop Rwaje Onesphore of Rwanda says, “The spiritual side and the physical side, they come together and do the same work. One cannot do it, forgetting the other one.” He has seen firsthand the effectiveness of development projects that manifest the Gospel.
Trip Lee, an artist from Atlanta, expounded on the Love Thy Neighbor theme as he preached “How should we love our neighbor?” If we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, it means not only “not being mean to them” or merely tolerating them. We are actually called to enable good for them.
And who is our neighbor? Unfortunately, not just people who are like us. The injured man in Luke chapter 10 learned this as he lay dying on the side of the road; the Samaritan was the only “neighbor” who helped! Trip challenged us to think of everyone with whom we come in contact as our neighbor. For Anglicans who share a global faith with 85 million people, perhaps these are our neighbors?
Pastor Mike McBride of Oakland, CA, challenged listeners to focus on the devil we can see, not only on the devil we can’t. Within the ARDF context, this might mean building health centers in areas where villages are, rather than accepting the existing situation that forces the sick and weary to travel hours, often by foot, to the nearest health facilities. A new clinic in Ghana is doing just this.
There was a lot of encouragement to work within the community we are trying to serve. ARDF already thrives in this model, where the communities with whom we partner bring their needs to their local church. Community members are equal partners in our projects, which most often have no Westerners on the ground implementing them! God’s people are building the kingdom in their own communities.
Of course, deciding what justice looks like in your context can lead to a lot of hard conversations! There is so much brokenness in the world and not everyone can solve every problem. Sometimes we are called only to walk alongside of our neighbors as they go through difficult circumstances.
Will you walk alongside our Anglican brothers and sisters by supporting an ARDF project?
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