Bill Deiss wears many hats including being a board member for Coracle, and the Executive Director for Anglican Relief and Development Fund. Below is a reflection written for ARDF about Transforming our world, and we thought it was also fitting for the Coracle network, since we are too about transformation. The letter was originally posted here. Take a look:
ARDF’s tagline has two complementary halves: Powerful Partnerships and Transforming Our World. In a previous newsletter, we spoke about the beautiful fellowship envisioned by the phrase Powerful Partnerships. Today, I’d like to describe the life-giving process captured by “Transforming Our World.”
Transformation and Social Change
Transforming means “producing a change in form, appearance, function or character.” By its very nature, development and relief work in very poor communities brings about a change from one condition to a better or improved condition. Transformation in the broadest terms implies change, either in the external form or inner nature of the thing, person, or community being changed.
Around the world, local Anglican leaders have recognized that change is needed in their own communities, and they are already working to make this change a reality. ARDF is convinced that the best way to positively transform the world is to walk with these local leaders and support their incredible work. That’s why our mission statement reads,
Inspired by God’s radical grace, ARDF exists to empower Anglicans in the developing world to show the love of Christ to those in need in their own communities by providing
- Clean water for the thirsty
- Job training for the poor
- Education for children and adults
- Food and sustainable agriculture for the hungry
- Healing for the sick and traumatized
- Urgent disaster relief
- Offering hope for those without hope through evangelism
With over 151 development projects completed in 34 different countries, impacting over 1 million people, ARDF has started to make a difference through the local Anglican Church in places that are crying out for transformation.
All over the world, we have seen the fruits of these investments. Whether in the form of a young mother in Ethiopia who is now able to keep her children healthy, or a refugee receiving life-saving care in Iraq, or a villager in South Sudan accessing clean water for the first time, projects like this are transforming our world.
Transformation and Renewed Minds
However, no matter where we live, or how many resources we have, changing external conditions alone is not enough—our internal well-being must be improved if transformation is to be of any real significance. True transformation must thus be “holistic,” involving the whole person, mind, body and spirit.
Often, we see internal change sparked by external change. When the followers of Christ in a local community work to improve the external conditions in their own neighborhood, people outside the church begin to ask, why? As we express the love of Christ in service to our neighbors, Transforming our World becomes a much broader, more exciting concept. It becomes something that includes empowerment and a sense of dignity, both for the donor and the recipient. We’ll talk more about this internal change in next month’s newsletter.
ARDF wants not only to improve physical conditions, but also to introduce the living God to the minds, heart and souls of the people affected. That’s why each one of ARDF’s development projects has an evangelism component seamlessly integrated into the development model. The poor must know that they are loved, valued, and created in the image of God. The non-poor must know that they also are in desperate need of God’s transformative action in their lives.
Transforming our World for ARDF means that peoples’ lives will be economically, physically and spiritually changed into a self-sustaining, healthy and loving relationship with God and their neighbors. ARDF does its best to work in partnership with our Anglican brothers and sisters to bring about such transformation in the needy communities in which the church serves, and in the hearts of donors here at home.