Gospel work is both/and, not either/or

By October 3, 2014
(Photo cred: Micky Aldridge via Flickr)

(Photo credit Micky Aldridge via Flickr)

Haiti (MNN) — People debate whether addressing physical needs or spiritual needs is more important for ministry. MNN asked this question on Facebook and got a myriad of responses.

For Starfysh founder Dr. Steve Edmondson, Gospel work on the Haitian island of La Gonave is both/and, not either/or.

“We set it up as this either/or question, and we have one choice. Maybe it’s the wrong question,” Edmondson states. Phrasing the question differently changes the implications of its answer, he explains.

Gospel work: spiritual or physical?

The question about Gospel work shouldn’t be, “Which is more important?” which implies an either/or choice, but rather “How can we address both?” which suggests a both/and solution.

“As long as we set the Gospel of Jesus as central to what we do, then it’s central in the context of what their reality is,” says Edmondson.

“To proclaim it and to demonstrate it through acts of love and service is an expression of the same Gospel. To not express the reality of that Gospel through our acts of love is a [disservice] to what the Gospel of Jesus is.”

Edmondson points to Christ as an example.

“Jesus came down; He left heaven…and entered our reality,” Edmondson states.

“To the extent that we can do that in other people’s lives, we are demonstrating what Jesus did for us and are demonstrating that Gospel in what we do.”

Gospel work on La Gonave

(Photo cred: MNN/Katey Hearth)

(Photo credit MNN/Katey Hearth)

There are many ways Starfysh puts this both/and solution into practice. From clean water and agriculture initiatives to education projects, Starfysh addresses dire physical needs in the name of Christ.

Starfysh also folds Gospel work into various island health programs. They regularly send community health workers into La Gonave villages, Edmondson explains. These workers teach the communities about WAter, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), the importance of using latrines, basic first aid, etc.

“In the context of that, they bring up also people’s need for God and what God has done for them,” Edmondson explains. “It’s only in the context of showing up in that village that we have gained an audience and earned the right for people to hear about the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

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One Comment

  • “but we will give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word” Acts 6:4 – every gospel issues the mandate taken up in Acts “go and preach”. Nowhere are we instructed by His inerrant, infallible, all sufficent word to go and feed, educate, clothe or shelter. In fact, when Christ says, “What you did to the least of these” refers to converted Christain members if the body of Christ! Social welfare does not change eternal destinies, if it did NY and CA would be Christian states! As a 37 year missionary, I know raising money to support solely evangelical work is near impossible, but feeding and housing poverty orphans is an easy sell- thus 99.9 % of foreign “missions” are social work projects! American churches have fumbled the ball on the Great Commission and there will be hell to pay.

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