One of the longest standing tensions within Christianity is whether we serve God best by our words or our works. Even beyond questions of faith vs. obedience, people squabble over which should take priority: the preaching of the gospel or living it out in the lives of others?
In his recent conversation with the Colson Center’s Shane Morris, Jonathan Grooms of Global Partners in Peace and Development argues that we really don’t have to make that choice. The love and truth of God in our lives inevitably spills itself out in restoring His world in some way, often leading others to seek the truth that has led us to them.
Below is an edited excerpt of their conversation, or you can hear the entire talk.
I think one thing that you hear a lot of today is people talking about the social gospel and being concerned that we’re more focused on meeting people’s needs and feeding the hungry, taking care of the poor, helping the refugees, and not really meeting the true spiritual needs of people. I would say, from my standpoint, even from what we read in James 2 is that the two work together, hand in hand. I think that’s one of the misconceptions that people have.
I know that with non-profit organizations, with people doing work overseas, there’s been a lot of distrust with that, and I know that that has taken place through the years with a lot of different organizations. I think there’s some mistrust with that, and so I encourage people, with giving to organizations, to check them out, to really find out what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, what accountability practices that they have in place. That way they can know that the funds that they’re giving to help people in need are actually going to help people who are in need.
The way that Global Partners really works is we don’t go to a place and say, “This is what we’re going to do.” We see what the needs are, in that place, and we pray that God provides the people, the resources, the funds to be able to meet the needs in those specific places.
If you go to the website, you’ll see that in each place we do things a little differently, and we like it that way. Again, we’re simply joining God in what He’s already doing in those places. Here in Jordan, mainly we’re working with refugees. I believe now there’s 755,000 refugees that are living here in Jordan. The majority of those are from Syria, many Iraqis and then, of course, a lot of other countries with smaller numbers.
In India, we’re mainly serving the impoverished, working in rural communities. We work with these local pastors and churches. One of the big things that we’ve had focus on a lot, in recent years, is putting in clean water wells in these villages. This really is actually stopping the cycle of poverty in these communities. We’re seeing a great change happen. Kids are able to go to school more often. Families are able to spend more time together, and children are not getting sick and dying. I think the statistics are that every 20 seconds in our world, there is a child that dies due to a preventable disease caused by the lack of clean water.
This is a way that we’re really impacting these communities. As we go in through the local church in these communities, we’re actually seeing a great harvest take place. I think just last year in India, from our Partners and through the local churches and the pastors that we are working with, they reported over 22,000 professions of faith within their local churches, within their communities, and beyond that.
What’s even more exciting to me, in some ways, is that there was 20,000 baptisms that took place. As you know, there in India, when you get baptized, you’re truly saying that, “I am a follower of Jesus Christ,” because your family, the community, everybody knows that you’re a follower of Christ.