Transformation: The Church in Response to Human Need

12 Jun 1983


For two weeks during June 1983 we have come together from local churches and Christian mission and aid agencies at Wheaton College in the USA from 30 nations to pray about and reflect upon the church’s task in response to human need. Some of us belong to churches which are situated among marginalized peoples who live in situations of poverty, powerlessness, and oppression. Others come from churches situated in affluent areas of the world. We are deeply grateful to our heavenly Father for allowing us the privilege of sharing our lives with one another, studying the Scriptures in small groups, considering papers on aspects of human development and transformation, and looking closely at the implications of case studies and histories which describe different responses to human need. Because God hears the cries of the poor, we have sought each other’s help to respond (Exod. 3:7-9; James 5:1-6). We rejoice at what we believe the Holy Spirit has been teaching us concerning God’s specific purpose and plans for His distressed world and the part the church has to play in them.

As we have faced the enormous challenge before God’s people everywhere to alleviate suffering and, in partnership together, to eliminate its causes, we are more than ever aware of the liberating and healing power of the Good News of Jesus. We gladly reaffirm, therefore, our conviction that Jesus Christ alone is the world’s peace, for He alone can reconcile people to God and bring all hostilities to an end (Eph. 2:14-17).

We acknowledge furthermore, that only by spreading the Gospel can the most basic need of human beings be met: to have fellowship with God. In what follows we do not emphasize evangelism as a separate theme, because we see it as an integral part of our total Christian response to human need (Matt. 28:18-21). In addition, it is not necessary simply to repeat what the Lausanne Covenant and the Report of the Consultation on the Relationship between Evangelism and Social Responsibility (CRESR, Grand Rapids, 1982) has already expressed.

What we have discovered we would like to share with our brothers and sisters throughout the world. We offer this statement, not as attempt to produce a final word, but as a summary of our reflections.

Both Scripture and experience, informed by the Spirit, emphasizes that God’s people are dependent upon His wisdom in confronting human need. Local churches and mission agencies, then, should act wisely, if they are to be both pastoral and prophetic. Indeed the whole human family with its illusions and divisions needs Christ to be its wisdom as well as its Savior and King.

Conscious of our struggle to find a biblical view of transformation that relates its working in the heart of believers to its multiplying effects in society, we pray that the Spirit will give us the discernment we need. We believe that the wisdom the Spirit inspires is practical rather than academic, and possession of the faithful rather than the preserve of the elite. Because we write as part of a world full of conflict and a church easily torn by strife we desire that the convictions expressed in this document be further refined by God’s pure and peaceful wisdom.

Some may find our words hard. We pray, however, that many will find them a help to their own thinking and an encouragement to “continue steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).

I. Christian Social Involvement

1. As Christians reflect on God’s intention for the world they are often tempted to be either naively optimistic or darkly pessimistic. Some, inspired by a utopian vision seem to suggest that God’s Kingdom, in all its fullness, can be built on earth. We do not subscribe to this view, since Scripture informs us of the reality and pervasiveness of both personal and societal sin (Isa. 1:10-26; Amos 2:6-8; Mic. 2:1-10; Rom. 1:28-32). Thus we recognize that utopianism is nothing but a false dream (see the CRESR Report, IV.A).

2. Other Christians become pessimistic because they are faced with the reality of increasing poverty and misery, of rampant oppression and exploitation by powers of the right and the left, of spiraling violence coupled with the threat of nuclear warfare. They are concerned, too, about the increasing possibility that planet earth will not be able to sustain its population for long because of the wanton squandering of its resource. As a result, they are tempted to turn their eyes away from this world and fix them so exclusively on the return of Christ that there involvement in the here and now is paralyzed. We do not wish to disregard or minimize the extensive contribution made by a succession of Christians who have held this view of eschatology, through more than one hundred years, to medical and educational work in many countries up to the present day. Nevertheless, some of us feel that these men and women have tended to see the task of the church as merely picking up survivors from a shipwreck in a hostile sea. We do not endorse this view either, since it denies the biblical injunctions to defend the cause of the weak, maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed (Ps. 82:3), and practice justice and love (Mic. 6:8).

3. We affirm, moreover, that, even though we may believe that our calling is only to proclaim the Gospel and not get involved in political and other actions, our very non-involvement lends tacit support to the existing order. There is no escape: either we challenge the evil structures of society or we support them.

4. There have been many occasions in the history of the church–and some exist today–where Christians, faced with persecution and oppression, have appeared to be disengaged from society and thus to support the status quo. We suggest, however, that even under conditions of the most severe repression, such Christians may in fact be challenging society and even be transforming it, through their lifestyles, their selfless love, their quiet joy, their inner peace, and their patient suffering (1 Pet. 2:21-25).

5. Christ’s followers, therefore, are called, in one way or another, not to conform to the values of society but to transform them (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 5:8-14). This calling flows from our confession that God loves the world and that the earth belongs to Him. It is true that Satan is active in the world, even claiming it to be his (Luke 4:5-7). He is, however, a usurper, having no property rights here. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ Jesus (Matt. 28:18; Col. 1:15-20). Although His Lordship is not yet acknowledged by all (Heb. 2:8) He is the ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5), King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). In faith we confess that the old order is passing away; the new order has already begun (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph 2:7-10; Matt. 12:18; Luke 7:21-23).

II. Not only Development but Transformation

6. The participants at this conference have entered into the current discussion concerning development. For many Western political and business leaders development describes the process by which nations and people become part of the existing international economic order. For many people of the Two-Third World it is identified with an ideologically motivated process of change, called “developmentalism.” This process is intrinsically related to a mechanistic pursuit of economic growth that tends to ignore the structural context of poverty and injustice and which increases dependency and inequality.

7. Some of us still believe, however, that “development,” when reinterpreted in the light of the whole message of the Bible, is a concept that should be retained by Christians. Part of the reason for this choice is that the word is so widely used. A change of term, therefore, would cause unnecessary confusion.

8. Other in our Consultation, because of difficulty in relating it to biblical categories of thought and its negative overtones, would like to replace “development” with another word. An alternative we suggest is “transformation,” as it can be applied in different ways to every situation. Western nations, for example, who have generally assumed that development does not apply to them, are, nevertheless, in need of transformation in many areas. In particular, the unspoken assumption that societies operate best when individuals are most free to pursue their own self-interests needs to be challenged on the basic of the biblical teaching on stewardship (Luke 12:13-21; 16:13-15; Phil. 2:1-4). People living in-groups based on community solidarity may help these kinds of societies see the poverty of their existence.

9. Moreover, the term “transformation,” unlike “development,” does not have a suspect past. It points to a number of changes that have to take place in many societies if poor people are to enjoy their rightful heritage in creation.

10. We are concerned, however, that both the goals and the process of transformation should be seen in the light of the Good News about Jesus, the Messiah. We commit ourselves and urge other Christian believers to reject the cultural and social forces of secularism, which so often shape our idea of a good society. We believe that notions alien to God’s plan for human living are often more powerful in forming our opinions about what is right for a nation than the message of Scripture itself.

11. According to the biblical view of human life, then, transformation is the change from a condition of human existence contrary to God’s purpose to one in which people are able to enjoy fullness of life in harmony with God (John 10:10; Col. 3:8-15; Eph. 4:13). This transformation can only take place through the obedience of individuals and communities to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whose power changes the lives of men and women by releasing them from the guilt, power, and consequences of sin, enabling them to respond with love toward God and toward others (Rom. 5:5), and making them “new creatures in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17).

12. There are a number of themes in Bible, which help us focus on the way we understand transformation. The doctrine of creation speaks of the worth of every man, woman, and child, of the responsibility of human beings to look after the resources of nature (Gen. 1:26-30) and to share them equitably with their neighbors. The doctrine of the Fall highlights the innate tendency of human beings to serve their own interests, with the consequences of greed, insecurity, violence, and the lust for power. “God’s judgement rightly falls upon those who do such things” (Rom. 2:2). The doctrine of redemption proclaims God’s forgiveness of sins and the freedom Christ gives for a way of life dedicated to serving others by telling them about the Good News of Salvation, bringing reconciliation between enemies, and losing one’s life to see justice established for all exploited people.

13. We have come to see that the goal of transformation is best described by the biblical vision of the Kingdom of God. This new way of being human in submission to the Lord of all has many facets. In particular, it means striving to bring peace among individuals, races, and nations by overcoming prejudices, fears, and preconceived ideas about others. It means sharing basic recourses like food, water, the means of healing, and knowledge. It also means working for a greater participation of people in the decisions which affect their lives, making possible an equal receiving from others and giving of themselves. Finally, it means growing up into Christ in all things as a body of people dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit and upon each other.

III. The Stewardship of Creation

14. “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Ps. 24:1); “The land is mine” (Lev. 25:23). All human beings are God’s creatures. As made in His image they are His representatives, given the responsibility of caring wisely for His creation. We have to confess, however, that God’s people have been slow to recognize the full implication of their responsibility. As His stewards, we do not own the earth but we manage and enhance it in anticipation of Christ’s return. Too often, however, we have assumed a right to use His natural resources indiscriminately. We have frequently been indifferent, or even hostile, to those committed to the conservation of non-renewable sources of energy and minerals, of animal life in danger of extinction, and of the precarious ecological balance of many natural habitats. The earth is God’s gift to all generations. An African proverb says that parents have borrowed the present from their children. Both our present life and our children’s future depend upon our wise and peaceful treatment of the whole earth.

15. We have also assumed that only a small portion of our income and wealth, the “tithe,” belongs to the Lord, the rest being ours to dispose of, as we like. This impoverishes other people and denies our identity and role as stewards. We believe that Christians everywhere, but especially those who are enjoying in abundance “the good things of life” (Luke 16:25), must faithfully obey the command to ensure that others have their basic needs met. In this way those who are poor now will also be able to enjoy the blessing of giving to others.

16. Through salvation, Jesus lifts us out of our isolation from God and other people and establishes us within the worldwide community of the Body of Christ. Belonging to one Body involves sharing all God’s gifts to us, so that there might be equality among all members (2 Cor. 8:14-15). To the extent that this standard is obeyed, dire poverty will be eliminated (Acts 2:42-47).

17. When either individuals or states claim an absolute right of ownership, that is rebellion against God. The meaning of stewardship is that the poor have equal rights to God’s resources (Deut. 15:8-9). The meaning of transformation is that, as stewards of God’s bountiful gifts, we do justice, striving together through prayer, example, representation, and protest to have resources redistributed and the consequences of greed limited (Acts 4:32-5:11).

18. We are perturbed by the perverse misuse of huge amounts of resources in the present arms race. While millions starve to death, resources are wasted on the research and production of increasingly sophisticated nuclear weapon systems. Moreover, the constantly escalating global trade in conventional arms accompanies the proliferation of oppressive governments, which disregard people’s elementary needs. As Christians we condemn these new expressions of injustice and aggression, affirming our commitment to seek peace with justice. In the light of the issue of the stewardship of creation we have discussed here, we call the worldwide evangelical community to make the nuclear and arms trade questions a matter of prayerful concern and to place it on their agenda for study and action.

IV. Culture and Transformation

19. Culture includes world-views, beliefs, values, art forms, customs, laws, socioeconomic structures, social relationships, and material things shared by a population over time in a specific area or context.

20. Culture is God’s gift to human beings. God has made people everywhere in His image. As Creator, He has made us creative. This creativity produces cultures. Furthermore, God has commissioned us to be stewards of His creation (Ps. 8; Heb. 2:5-11). Since every good gift is from above and since all wisdom and knowledge comes from Jesus Christ, whatever is good and beautiful in cultures may be seen as a gift of God (James 1:16-18). Moreover, where the Gospel has been heard and obeyed, cultures have become further ennobled and enriched.

21. However, people have sinned by rebelling against God. Therefore the cultures we produce are infected with evil. Different aspects of our culture show plainly our separation from God. Social structures and relationships, art forms and laws often reflect our violence, our sense of lostness, and our loss of coherent moral values. Scripture challenges us not to be “conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2) insofar as it is alienated from its Creator. We need to be transformed so that cultures may display again what is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

22. Cultures, then, bear the marks of God’s common grace, demonic influences, and mechanisms of human exploitation. In our cultural creativity, God and Satan clash. The Lord used Greek culture to give us the New Testament, while at the same time He subjected that culture to the judgement of the Gospel. We too should make thankful use of cultures and yet, at the same time, examine them in the light of the Gospel to expose the evil in them (1 Cor. 9: 19-23).

23. Social structures that exploit and dehumanize constitute a pervasive sin which is not confronted adequately by the church. Many churches, mission societies, and Christian relief and development agencies support the sociopolitical status quo, and by silence give their tacit support.

24. Through application of the Scriptures, in the power of the Spirit, we seek to discern the true reality of all sociocultural situations. We need to learn critically from both functionalist and conflict approaches to human culture. The “functionalist socio-anthropology” approach emphasizes the harmonious aspect of different cultures and champions a tolerant attitude to the existing structures. This position is often adopted in the name of “scientific objectivity.” By contrast, the “conflict” approach exposes the contradictory nature of social structures and makes us aware of the underlying conflict of interests. We must remember that both approaches come under the judgement of God.

25. Give the conflicting ethical tendencies in our nature, which find expression in our cultural systems, we must be neither naively optimistic nor wrongly judgmental. We are called to be a new community that seeks to work with God in the transformation of our societies, men and women of God in society, salt of the earth and light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16). We seek to bring people and their cultures under the Lordship of Christ. In spite of our failures, we move toward that freedom and wholeness in a more just community that persons will enjoy when our lord returns to consummate His Kingdom (Rev. 21:1-22:6).

V. Social Justice and Mercy

26. Our time together enabled us to see that poverty is not a necessary evil but often the result of social, economic, political, and religious systems marked by injustice, exploitation, and oppression. Approximately eight hundred million people in the world are destitute, and their plight is often maintained by the rich and powerful. Evil is not only in the human heart but also in social structures. Because God is just and merciful, hating evil and loving righteousness, there is an urgent need for Christians in the present circumstances to commit ourselves to acting in mercy and seeking justice. The mission of the church includes both the proclamations of the Gospel and its demonstration. We must therefore evangelize, respond to immediate human needs, and press for social transformation. The means we use, however, must be consistent with the end we desire.

27. As we thought of the task before us, we considered Jesus’ attitude toward the power structures of His time. He was neither a Zealot nor a passive spectator of the oppression of His people. Rather, moved by compassion, He identified Himself with the poor, whom He saw as ” harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:36). Though His act mercy, teaching, and lifestyle, He exposed the injustices in society and condemned the self-righteousness of its leaders (Matt. 23:25; Luke 6:37-42). His was prophetic compassion and it resulted in the formation of a community which accepted the values of the Kingdom of God and stood in contrast to the Roman and Jewish establishment. We were challenged to follow Jesus’ footsteps, remembering that His compassion led Him to death (John 13:12-17; Phil. 2:6-8; 1 John 3:11-18).

28. We are aware that a Christlike identification with the poor, whether at home or aboard, in the North, South, East, or West, is always costly and may lead us also to persecution and even death. Therefore, we humbly ask God to make us willing to risk our comfort, even our lives, for the sake of the Gospel, knowing that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).

29. Sometimes in our ministry among the poor we face a serious dilemma: to limit ourselves to acts of mercy to improve their lot, or to go beyond that and seek to rectify the injustice that makes such acts of mercy necessary. This step in turn may put at risk the freedom we need to continue our ministry. No rule of thumb can be given, but from a biblical perspective it is clear that justice and mercy belong together (Isa 11:1-5; Ps. 113:5-9). We must therefore make every possible effort to combine both in our ministry and be willing to suffer the consequences. We must also remember that acts of mercy highlight the injustices of the social, economic, and political structures and relationships; whether we like it or not, they may therefore lead us into confrontation with those who hold power (Acts 4:5-22). For the same reason, we must stand together with those who suffer for the sake of justice (Heb. 13:3).

30. Our ministry of justice and healing is not limited to fellow Christians. Our love and commitment must extend to the stranger (Matt. 5:43-48). Our involvement with stangers is not only through charity, but also through economic policies toward the poor. Our economic and political action is inseparable from evangelism.

31. Injustice in the modern world has reached global proportions. Many or us come from countries dominated by international business corporations and some from those whose political systems are not accountable to the people. We witness to the damaging effects that these economic and political institutions are having on people, especially on the poorest of the poor. We call on our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ to study seriously this situation and to seek ways to bring about change in favor of the oppressed. “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern” (Prov. 29:7).

VI. The Local Church and Transformation

32. The local church is the basic unit of Christian society. The churches in the New Testament were made up of men and women who had experienced transformation through receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, acknowledging Him as Lord, incarnating His servant ministry by demonstrating the values of the Kingdom both personally and in community (Mark 10:35-45; 1 Pet. 2:5; 4:10). Today similar examples of transformed lives abound in churches worldwide.

33. We recognize that across the generations local churches have been the vehicle for the transmission of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that their primary, thought not their only, role is a threefold ministry: the worship and praise of God, the proclamation in word and deed of the Gospel of the grace of God, and the nurture, instruction, and discipleship of those who have received Jesus Christ into their lives. In this way transformation takes place in the lives of Christians as individuals, families, and communities; through their words and deeds they demonstrate both the need and reality of ethical, moral, and social transformation.

34. All churches are faced at times with the choice between speaking openly against social evils and not speaking out publicly. The purpose for the particular choice should be obedience to the Lord of the church to fulfill its ministry. Wisdom will be needed so that the church will neither speak rashly and make its witness ineffective nor remain silent when to do so would deny its prophetic calling (1 Pet. 3:13-17). If we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and are socially aware, we will always be ready to reassess our attitude toward social issues (Lk. 18:24-30).

35. Integrity, leadership, and information are essential for the transformation of attitudes and lifestyles of members of local churches. Churches are made up of people whose lives are pressured by the way their neighbors spend their money. They are often more aware of this than of the suffering and human need in their own and other countries. Often, too, they are reluctant to expose themselves to the traumas of global need and to information which would challenge their comfort. If church leadership fails to adequately stress the social dimensions of the Gospel, church members may often overlook these issues (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Heb. 13:17).

36. We should sensitive and responsive to need within the local church. Windows, prisoners, the poor, and the stangers are people who are particularly the responsibility of the local church (Gal. 6:10). We should attempt to be well informed about local human need and to seek God’s will for us in meeting those needs. We should seek to minister to the poor in our local areas who are not members of the church (James 1:27; Rom. 12:17).

37. Our churches must also address issues of evil and of social injustice in the local community and the wider society. Our methodology should involve study, earnest prayer, and action within the normative, ethical guidelines for Christian’s conduct set out in Scripture. Within these guidelines there are times, no matter the political system, when protest can be effective. Christians should carefully consider the issues and manner in which they protest so that the identity and message of the church is neither blurred nor drowned.

38. The local church has however to be understood as being a part of the universal church. There is therefore a genuine need for help and sharing (diakonia) built on fellowship (koinonia) between churches of different localities and contexts. In this connection we considered a model for relating churches in different areas of the world. In such “church twinnings” the relationship should be genuinely reciprocal with giving and receiving at both ends, free from paternalism of any kind (Rom. 15:1-7).

39. Such reciprocal relationship in a spirit of true mutuality are particularly needed in view of the fact that every local church always lives on the edge of compromise with its context (Rom. 12:3-18). Some churches are immersed in the problems of materialism and racism, others in those of oppression and the option of violence. We may help each other by seeking to see the world through the eyes of our brothers and sisters.

40. Within regard to the wider world community, Christian churches should identify and exchange people who are equipped through their personal characteristics, training, and Christian maturity to work across cultures in the name of Christ and of the sending church. These men and women would go as servants and stewards characterized by humility and meekness; and they would work together with members of the Body of Christ in the countries to which they go.

VII. Christians Aid Agencies and Transformation

41. In reflection upon the Christian to human need, we have recognized the central place of the local church as the vehicle for communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ both in word and deed. Churches around the world have throughout history displayed active concern for the needs around them and countries to serve the needy. We call upon the aid agencies to see their role as one of facilitating the churches in the fulfillment of their mission.

42. We recognize the progress, which in recent years has been made, in our understanding of the Gospel and its social and political implications. We also recognize, however, the deficiencies in our witness and affirm our desire for a fuller understanding of the biblical basis for our ministry.

43. We acknowledge that the constituency of the aid agencies is generally concerned with human suffering, hunger, and need. However, we recognize that this concern is not consistently expressed with integrity. In efforts to raised funds, the plight of the poor is often exploited in order to meet donor needs and expectations. Fund-raising activities must be in accordance with the Gospel. A stewardship responsibility of agencies is to reduce significantly their overheads in order to maximize the resource for the ministry.

44. We are challenged to implement in our organizations a positive transformation demonstrating the values of Christ and His Kingdom, which we wish to share with others. We must, for example, avoid competition with others involved in the same ministry and a success mentality that forgets God’s special concern for the weak and “unsuccessful” (Gal. 2:10; Ps. 147:6). We should continually review our actions to ensure biblical integrity and genuine partnership with churches and other agencies. Decisions on ministry policy, including how resources are to be used, need to be made in consultation with the people to be served.

45. We need to ensure that our promotional efforts describe what we are actually doing. We accept the responsibility of educating our donors in the full implications of the way Christian transformation is experienced in the field. The Holy Spirit has led us to this ministry. In accepting the responsibility of education we recognize the process may cause some to question our approach. We will strive to educate with a sense of humility, patience, and courage.

46. In all of our programs and actions we should remember that God in His sovereignty and love is already active in the communities we seek to serve (Acts 14:17; 17:23; Rom. 2:9-15). Agencies, therefore, should give adequate priority to listening sensitively to the concerns of these communities, facilitating a two-way process in communication and local ownership of programs. The guiding principle is equitable partnership in which local people and Western agencies cooperate together. Many models for development have originated in the Two-Thirds World. Christian aid agencies should in every way encourage these local initiatives to succeed. In this way the redeemed community of the Kingdom will be able to experiment with a number of models of transformation.

47. The agencies’ legitimate need for accountability to donors often results in the imposition of Western management systems on local communities. This assumes that Western planning and control systems are the only ones which can ensure accountability. Since the communities these agencies seek to serve are often part of a different culture, this imposition can restrict and inhabit the sensitive process of social transformation. We call on development agencies to establish a dialogue with those they serve in order to permit the creation of systems accountability with respect to both cultures. Our ministry must always reflect our mutual interdependence in the Kingdom (Rom. 14:17-18; 1 Cor. 12).

48. In focusing on the apparently conflicting requirements of our action as Christian agencies, we are conscious of our sin and compromise. In a call to repentance we include a renunciation of inconsistency and extravagance in our personal and institutional lifestyle. We ask the Spirit of truth to lead us and make us agents of transformation (Acts 1:8).

VIII. The Coming of the Kingdom and the Church’s Mission

49. We affirm that the Kingdom of God is both present and future, both societal and individual, both physical and spiritual. If other have over emphasized the present, the societal, and the physical, we ought to confess that we have tended to neglect those dimensions of the biblical message. We therefore joyfully proclaim that the Kingdom has broken into human history in the Resurrection of Christ. It grows like a mustard seed, both judging and transforming the present age.

50. Even if God’s activity in history is focused on the church, it is not confined to the church. God’s particular focus on the church–as on Israel in the Old Testament–has as its purpose the blessing of the nations (Gen. 12:1-3; 15; 17; Isa. 42:6). Thus the church is called to exist for the sake of its Lord and the sake of humankind (Matt. 22:23-40).

51. The church is called to infuse the world with hope, for both this age and the next. Our hope does not flow from despair: it is not because the present is empty that we hope for a new future (Rom. 5:1-11). Rather, we hope for that future because of what God has already done and because of what He has promised yet to do. We have already been given the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of our full redemption and of the coming of the day when God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). As we witness to the Gospel of present salvation and future hope, we identify with the awesome birthpangs of God’s new creation (Rom. 8:22). As the community of the end time anticipating the End, we prepare for the ultimate by getting involved in the penultimate (Matt. 24:36-25:46).

52. For this reason we are challenged to commit ourselves to a truly vigorous and full-orbed mission in the world, combining explosive creativity with painstaking faithfulness in small things. Our mission and vision are to be nurtured by the whole counsel of God (2 Tim. 3:16). A repentant, revived, and vigorous church will call people to true repentance and faith and at the same time equip them to challenge the forces of evil and injustice (2 Tim. 3:17). We thus move forward, without either relegating salvation merely to an eternal future or making it synonymous with a political or social dispensation to be achieved in the here and now. The Holy Spirit empowers us to serve and proclaim Him who has been raised from the dead, seated at the right hand of the Father, and given to the church as Head over all things in heaven and on earth (Eph. 1:10, 20-22).

53. Finally, we confess our utter dependence on God. We affirm that transformation is, in the final analysis, His work, but work in which He engages us. To this end He has given us His Spirit, the Transformer par excellence, to enlighten us and be our Counselor (John 16:7), to impart His many gifts to us (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12), to equip us to face and conquer the enemy (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Gal. 5:22-23). We are reminded that our unconfessed sins and lack of love for others grieve the Spirit (Eph.4:30; Gal. 5:13-16). We therefore fervently pray for our sins to be pardoned, for our spirit to be renewed, and for the privilege of being enlisted in the joyous task of enabling God’s Kingdom to come: the Kingdom “of … justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

Note: text from The Church in Response to Human Need, edited by Vinay Samuel and Christopher Sugden (Grand Rapids, USA and Oxford, UK: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co. and Regnum Books, 1987), p. xi.

The Consultation on the Church in Response to Human Need met in Wheaton, Illinois, in June 1983 as the third track of a larger conference sponsored by the World Evangelical Fellowship under the title “I Will Build My Church.” The statement “Transformation: The Church in Response to Human Need,” which was produced as an outgrowth of the consultation, does not attempt to be a comprehensive statement of the whole counsel of God on the issues of development, but it reflects the thoughts of the participants at the consultation as they were expressed and modified in the papers and discussion that followed.