nothing while U.S. volunteers offer services, a new
model that empowers the local community church
member is needed. A U.S. volunteer will teach,
support, and enable a person in a local church to
achieve results that validate the local church as the
hero, not just the individual.
Third, churches can provide universal distribu-
tion.There are more local churches scattered around
the world than all the franchises of Starbucks,
Walmart, and McDonalds combined.
has survived in the face of wars, famines, ﬂoods, and
nuclear bombs. It is present in refugee camps, pris-
ons, jungles, and dungeons. The faith community
is both the oldest entity and ubiquitous; in many
parts of the world, the church is the only civil-soci-
ety infrastructure in existence at the grassroots level.
As we consider the global giants of spiritual
emptiness, egocentric leadership, extreme pov-
erty, pandemic disease, illiteracy, and a paucity
of education, it is clear that a major hindrance
to alleviating the suffering is a lack of depend-
able distribution channels. The problem is not a
shortage of money. Money ﬂows to good ideas. It’s
not a lack of medicine. We have medicines for all
of the major diseases in the world. The problem
is distribution. Even if a cure for HIV and AIDS
were available tomorrow, distribution to those in
need would be a hurdle of tremendous proportion
because governments, businesses, and NGOs do
not have the necessary grassroots network.
What then is the barrier to accessing the
distribution network inherent in the faith com-
munity? We can only speculate, but perhaps there
is a fear of working with churches and people of
faith. But if people of faith—whether Christian,
Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, or any other
5 Beliefblog, “My Take: Church is world’s most powerful weapons against
AIDS,” blog entry by Rick Warren, July 3, 2011, http://religion.blogs.
, accessed April 17, 2011.
faith—are required to set their religion aside in
order to participate in humanitarian projects, then
a great percentage of the world’s population will be
eliminated as links in this vital chain of distribu-
tion. Equal partners in a society must discover
how to work for the good of all without expecting
unanimity on every topic. We don’t have to see
eye-to-eye to work hand-in-hand.
The Faith Community as Mobilizers
Communities of faith understand how to engage,
equip, and mobilize their members as they gather
weekly to worship. Historically, ordinary people
in faith communities everywhere have been
mobilized to contribute to relief and development
efforts. Even if their attempts have not always been
well informed, guided by best practices, or effec-
tive in their outcomes, improvement and progress
were often the goal. Current undertakings in relief
and development stand in contrast to past efforts
in their size, scope, and effectiveness.
Advances in development approaches include
those for child welfare. This is a natural interest for
the faith community because we are commanded
to care for orphans and widows. The church has
accessed evidence-based data that demonstrate the
deleterious effects of institutional care on children.
As a result, it has become a signiﬁcant opponent
of institutional care and a mobilization leader for
efforts to provide a legal mother and father for
every orphan, changing the children’s status from
orphan to son or daughter. Adoption is encour-
aged by a family in the country of origin, and by
opening doors for international adoption.
Consider Saddleback Church’s goal to send
members to every nation on earth with the mes-
sage of God’s grace. More than 14,000 of its own
members—all self-funded—have gone to 194
countries through The PEACE Plan. No other
single entity has ever mobilized so many unpaid,
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