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.
Portland Jane Mithen (Carroll Student, M. A. in Worship)
No Need Among You Conference 2016 featured several great speakers who taught the difference between being a good Samaritan or being like the Levi and Priest who walked by on the other side of the road. Several of the urban poor have eternity in focus while living in poverty. Giving money is nice, but serving and being a neighbor while building relationships and investing in the poor has a lasting effect. Helping the poor learn to relate in ways that maintain their dignity, individuality, and bring healing is a life challenge. These were some of the great lessons that our group had the opportunity to learn while in class and during the conference from speakers who had diverse backgrounds and testimonies.
As a primary care physician and missionary with the Rafiki Foundation, I traveled this past June to various parts of Malawi where I had the opportunity to medically treat persons with physical needs, educate Christian women at Soche Baptist Church about women’s health, and present a short seminar on worship. I recently had the privilege of establishing a federally exempt, private 501(3)(C) religious organization, the
Abwenzi A Yesu – Friends of Jesus Foundation, Inc., for foreign communities that partner with churches in countries like Malawi. As the Lord leads, hopefully more of these opportunities will develop for helping the poor in foreign countries. Because of my work with the poor in Malawi, the
No Need Among You Conference was especially significant for me.
From downtown Dallas to foreign developing countries like Malawi, one of the sacrifices that is a constant theme is the need for physical involvement as Christians who are invested in the plight of the poor, in working for the Kingdom, and in sowing or plowing for Christ’s harvest fields. One of the plenary speakers, Damen López, is the Founder of
No Excuses University Network of Schools that promote academically successful and college-ready students regardless of their economic status. He kept our attention and peaked our interest as he challenged us, no matter where we are serving, in helping to raise the bar in education and to not settle for less than exceptional. He encouraged us to lead with boldness and grace, to not analyze everything or wonder about the “what if’s,” but instead to take bold risks in our litigious society to help at risk children.
Jimmy Dorrell, Executive Director of the Texas Christian Community Development Network, founder of the Church Under the Bridge in Waco, author of “Trolls and Truths,” and an outspoken advocate for the poor, enlightened and educated us in what it means to serve and be advocates for the poor. Dr. Dorrell took us on a field trip to Cornerstone Baptist Church that is in a rurally poor neighborhood with several outreach ministries including a food recovery program, clothing closet, and a medical, dental and optical clinic. The church has refurbished housing for at risk pregnant teens and other at risk women who are screened by Cornerstone for admission into their programs. Cornerstone is impacting its community, and it showed us what can be done for Christ in transforming lives for His Kingdom.
The NNAY conference ended on Friday afternoon with a final worship service led by a Nigerian guest choir from Greenville, Texas. They sang several native songs, with traditional Nigerian dress and instrumentation, which demonstrated another ethnicity that is so much a part of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex and increased our understanding and awareness of what it means to live in a melting pot as one body in Christ.
I would highly recommend the NNAY to all who are interested in being involved in community development. It will be held next year in Houston, Texas. There are several opportunities and excellent ministries that can be adopted by your congregations or various groups to help brothers and sisters in urban poor areas within the metroplex to break the cycles of poverty and injustice by being advocates for the poor.