When John Stonestreet and I wrote “Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan To Change The World Through Everyday People,” we asked four questions:
- What is good in our culture that we can promote, protect, and celebrate?
- What is missing in our culture that we can creatively contribute?
- What is evil in our culture that we can stop?
- What is broken in our culture that we can restore?
It is not an exaggeration to say that these are the questions that we concern ourselves with every day at The Colson Center, the questions we try to answer with our daily BreakPoint commentaries.
We also try, whenever possible, to answer these questions in the form of a story. Stories are powerful tools. Jesus used stories as a primary teaching tool. Mark 4:34 says that “Jesus did not speak to them except in parables.” The songwriter and novelist Andrew Peterson is fond of saying, “If you want someone to hear the truth, tell them the truth. But if you want someone to love the truth, tell them a story.”
That’s why I was delighted to see the current issue of WORLD magazine. Each year, WORLD highlights the winners of its Hope Awards for Effective Compassion. The Hope Awards go to local Christian organizations that make a meaningful positive difference in their communities without receiving government funds. The current issue highlights the regional winners, plus an international winner. Here’s a summary, with links to the complete story:
Delta Streets Academy is a Christian school in Greenwood, Miss. The founder of the school is 32-year-old Thomas McMillin Howard. The school has 55 students in grades 7 through 12, all black and all male. The goal of the school is “to equip the young men who walk through our doors daily with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the skills needed to live a life that honors God.”
Four Corners Home for Children is a childcare program in Farmington, N.M. This 64-year-old ministry serves mostly people from the Navajo nation, with a mission “to help people through programs that instill hope, restoration, and Christian values.”
Hope Pregnancy Ministries of Kalispell, Mont., provides a medical clinic, including ultrasound services, and a wide range of other services to offer pregnant women a more complete range of choices related to their pregnancy.
New Life Home, in Manchester, N.H., helps opioid-addicted women with a residential program that is unusual in that it lets children live with their mothers. The novel approach works. More than 89 percent of the women who enter the long-term program graduate, and many of them complete GED exams or achieve other educational milestones while there.
Village of Hope is the international winner this year. VOH is a 230-acre orphan village about 30 miles from Zambia’s capital Lusaka. Currently, 83 children live there, but the village is a focal point for an economic engine that includes a school, restaurant, truck park, and other businesses that provide about 60 percent of the funds needed to support the ministry. In total, Village of Hope employs 132 local people while providing part-time work for some of the older children in the orphanage.
These five ministries are, of course, merely the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to Christians who are making a positive difference in the world. Those of us involved in ministry or in our local churches know that if the great work of Christian ministries and local churches went away, there would be a giant sucking sound in civil society. However, most churches and Christian ministries do their work quietly, with little fanfare, so—according to a Pew study—many Americans don’t understand what Arthur Brooks documented in his book “Who Really Cares?” What Brooks knows but most Americans don’t is that Christians are more generous with both time and money than their secular neighbors, and that without this generosity, America would be in deep trouble.
That’s why we Christians need to support the great work of ministries such as those above, we need to use these ministries as models for our own local activism, and we need to tell the stories of these and other great ministries, both because it helps them and because it will—every time a story is told—be a powerful witness to a skeptical world regarding the transformational power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Image courtesy of SvetaZi at iStock by Getty Images.
Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.