Reflections on the No Need Among You Conference 2016
The Texas Christian Community Development Network held its annual No Need Among You Conference on October 5-7, 2016, hosted by Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Dallas. There were 520 people in attendance at a conference that focuses on how to empower the poor and revitalize communities.
This series of posts are reactions from Carroll Institute representatives present.
Michele Reimer (Carroll Institute Student, M. A. in Religion)
It is difficult to know where to start in reflecting upon my experience at the
No Need Among You Conference sponsored by the Texas Christian Community Development Network, because every session impacted my personal pastoral development. The event is part of the Christian Community Development Course at Carroll Institute which is taught by Dr. Jimmy Dorrell who also pioneered Mission Waco. The following are some thoughts from the event:
From the first day, Professor Dorrell opened his heart of gold as he shared his experiences with incarnational living over the years in Waco. He explained that Jesus left home and went to the lepers, the prostitutes and others and that it doesn’t always lead to a comfortable lifestyle. However, he and his wife were called to do so. By living with the poor and marginalized, they developed relationships with their neighbors and were able to make changes in the neighborhood where they lived. We explored the continuum from evangelism to community development and taking care of the needs of the poor. He taught that the two are like mixing salt and water to become one. He framed it on a more holistic approach in that both are connected in the same manner, often referred to in the Hebrew world as right belief that results in right behavior. Evangelism and ministry to the poor is
both/and as you cannot say that you love God and not do things for one another as is taught in 1 John 3:17 as well as in other parts of the Bible.
When we work in community with our neighbors, we see the Kingdom of God transformed before our very eyes. One speaker shared that many cannot take the time to leave the country on mission trips; however, there is plenty to do in our own cities. He went on to say that in community ministry, you can go on mission and still sleep in your own bed at night.
Imagine walking into a beautiful sanctuary for one of the afternoon plenary sessions and seeing the entire choir loft filled with people who live in the streets and are singing together at the direction of a professional conductor. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I saw the joy in their faces and listened to the lyrics of their songs.
Here’s a sampling of the lyrics from
Up Where We Belong. Try to visualize the stained glass windows in the front of the church framing the singers while hearing words such as these below being sung by those who are homeless:
Who knows what tomorrow brings in a world few hearts survive;
All I know is the way I feel when it’s real, I keep it alive.
The road is long, there are mountains in our way,
But we climb a step every day.
Love lift us up where we belong,
Where the eagles cry on a mountain high.
Love lift us up where we belong, far from the world below,
Up where the clear winds blow…
Wow! Their songs took on a new meaning when sung by the Dallas Street Choir members. I have always based my ministry upon love using so many of the scriptures on that topic to pour into those in my path. We cannot say that we love God and not show love to our neighbors.
food desertsas they have no transportation to traditional grocery stores to buy healthy foods. We have neighbors who do not know where they will be laying their heads down at night or where there next meal will come from. How can we ignore that? These are people living in the grips of despair. We are the ones who can change that by replacing labels with hope. We must communicate the fact that others have value, and we can do that by seeing and treating them as children of the Most High God. One way to do that is to simply listen. That word came up in many of the break-out sessions. Before we can help, we must listen to their stories. We must make eye contact, greet, smile, ignore distractions and truly connect by hearing the stories of others. We can honor them by simply actively listening to them. It can bring healing to wounded souls. This is just one part of the higher calling that is upon all of us who are Christians.
They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
hand uprather than a
hand out.There are times of emergency when an immediate need must be met. However, in the long run, community development is about empowering others to get out of their circumstances. Many ministries represented at the conference have learned to involve whom they help by engaging them to share what would best help them and to encourage them to give back and assist others in the process. They also work collectively to find solutions. People living in poverty often have the answers to their problems and many times need help in connecting with what is needed.
who knows what tomorrow brings.