By Gerald Coates
It’s not merely a matter of handing a few coins through the crack of a window. This pastor and his wife have taken in three girls off the streets and raised them as their daughters. Their response likely saved the girls from a life of prostitution. It has also given them an education and hope for a future. Though not an easy decision, the same Spirit who guides this pastor to help beggars knocking on his car window is the same Spirit guiding him to raise these girls.
Love-driven justice gets extremely messy. As Free Methodist World Missions makes disciples by mobilizing the global church and empowering international leaders to plant transformational churches, the first entry point is often leading with love-driven justice. And it is not justice as a means to save souls. Love-driven justice reaches into communities to bring wholeness. When Jesus comes into town, He heals the sick, causes the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, and even the dead come to life. And the good news is proclaimed to the poor. When you live on the margins with the poor, life gets messy. Sometimes it calls you to take in a child, and sometimes it calls you to roll down your window. There are no hard and fast rules except the rule to love generously. Love compels action.
Free Methodist World Missions is committed to plant churches and develop leaders. But it is not just about planting churches and developing leaders — it is the kind of churches we plant and the kind of leaders we develop. We plant churches that bring wholeness, holiness and justice to the community. We develop leaders who not only preach but share the whole gospel of Jesus Christ. We plant churches and develop leaders among the world’s downtrodden, disenfranchised, displaced and discouraged. We plant churches that invest in the community to see the captive set free. We develop leaders who look for the marginalized and the vulnerable and offer them hope through Jesus Christ. Wherever we plant churches, we plant systems to care for the poor, the widows, the orphans and the foreigners. Usually there is a school, a feeding program and often a health clinic. In some places, like refugee camps, the most pressing need is a counseling center for those recovering from physical and psychological trauma. Free Methodists worldwide answer the call to bring the whole gospel to the whole world.
The small town of Carmen de Areco in Argentina was being terrorized by street kids who had no parents to care for them. In love, Pastor Ricardo and Pastora Maria Elena began bringing these kids into their home. They constructed a place for them to live above the church sanctuary. The kids learned how to play musical instruments and how to lead worship. Years later, these kids who formerly led in mischief now lead in worship, with some headed toward ordination and some on track to become medical doctors. It started with feeding the kids and giving them a place to live.
During the pandemic, these former street kids, along with their spiritual parents, started a soup kitchen to feed their city’s poor. It’s not like they had huge resources to draw from, but God has been using what they have to meet the desperate needs.
In every world area, you will find Free Methodist World Missions engaged in hospitals and hostels, schools and street ministry, helping refugees and partnering in reforestation, caring for the widows and orphans, delivering relief and recovery to those hit by natural disasters, developing sustainable sources of income through small business enterprises, and raising up those who champion anti-trafficking. All of these are the work of a transformational church.
Love-driven justice helps raise leaders, leaders who fall in the tradition of the biblical deacon Philip. First noted as leading the fair distribution of food in Acts 6, Philip is soon leading the way, reaching Samaria, Ethiopia and beyond. Our national leaders are key in developing healthy biblical communities. Often they are initially supported through the U.S. church while their national church is in development. These national leaders are on the cutting edge as those who administer and own the justice work in their country. It is our joy to help share in sustaining their work while they share with us the spiritual blessing of reaching the whole world with the whole gospel. Our support for them comes from the same love driving them to help others. We are better together.
Free Methodist World Missions oversees hundreds of Extra Mile Projects directly related to love-driven justice. Leaders who administer those funds are our international country leaders supported by the Church Planting and Development Funds. You can join by giving at give.fmcusa.org. You can provide support for country leaders by clicking on “Countries.” To give to a specific project within a country, click on “Extra Mile Projects.”+