A sponsored child in Ethiopia wrote ‘Jesus is LORD’ on the wall at home.
Dear brothers and sisters,
In the last couple of decades, there were lots of discussions around the globe on the issues of poverty alleviation and development. People have exhausted all political and economical means but failed to solve the problem of income inequality. And in fact the global wealth gap has become wider and wider. The optimistic belief and confidence relying on human wisdom to solve this issue grows dim and dim, and even displaced by hopelessness and blame.
[ ‘SHARE’ May-Jun 2013 – Seeing It with Our Eyes ] CEDAR’S BLOGGER
Author> TANG Po Shan, Education and Promotion Officer
I often ponder this question: As a staff in a relief and development organisation that mobilises and encourages community concern amongst Christians, how deeply do I actually care about my society, or am I merely doing a job?
Indeed, it is wonderful to have work that combines one’s interests and ambition. It is a good thing if a person cares about his society and is able to work in a civil group or NGO, that promotes social changes through different channels such as education, services, community development, policy initiatives and social actions. Of course, caring for the society is not a privilege of a select few because it is our civic responsibility. In that face of various issues of modern society, we need skilled and able people, such as social workers, to act as frontline promoters and executors. My question is, when our work becomes routine, or when caring about society becomes a livelihood skill, would we be confusing means and ends?
I frequently ask myself, am I someone who cares about society? Outside of work, how much do I care about the society’s current affairs and how much am I concerned with the weak and disadvantaged groups? Do I keep silent in face of unrighteousness? Am I interested in spending time to listen to the poor? Am I willing to contact marginalised groups? I ask these questions not to set criteria, nor to imply anyone who fails to meet them would show that s/he is unconcerned, for I am against legalism. I believe that this is a kind of self-confrontation, to face my own life honestly, admit my self-righteousness and weakness and ask God to watch over me and have mercy on me when I fail.
Truly, concern for society is an attitude and one focus in our lives, and it should flow naturally from life. Caring about society is not about what we do but how we become someone who cares about other people and practises righteousness. I believe that, as Christians, caring for society is a spiritual discipline leading us to see people and the world as the Lord sees them, and in all areas of our life ‘to act justly and love mercy and to walk humbly with God’.
When we have been at our daily task long enough and are so familiar with certain methods and teaching, things can become habitual, and even more alarmingly we ourselves do not believe what we say or do. This reminds me to reflect often on my work, challenge myself to leave my comfort zone and be courageous in walking the path of faith.
[ePrayer – Pray for community development in Bangladesh’s slum]
CEDAR’s partner SATHI encourages people in the slum community in Bangladesh to participate in the development activities and they form self-help groups with their own leadership to set goals for the development of the area. Two People’s Institutions have recently finalised their gender policy and are going to implement in the community. Besides, People’s Institution identified 135 street children for enrolling into primary schools. These children have started schooling since January 2013.
Pray for community development in Bangladesh’s slum:
Pray that slum dwellers would act according to the policy to promote gender equality;
Pray that the street children are able to adapt to their school lives.
 CEDAR is an approved charitable institutions and trusts of a public character under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Please click Inland Revenue Department website to check for details.  Donations over $100 are tax deductible in Hong Kong with our receipts.  Please DO NOT fax any donation information.
Author> CHAN Nim Chung, Board Member of CEDAR Fund
The Cape Town Commitment of Lausanne III 2010, with reference to the Micah Declaration released by the Micah Network in 2001, presents Integral Mission as the inseparable nature of gospel proclamation and social involvement. Since its inception in 1991, CEDAR Fund has long been a member of Micah Network whose 300 plus members have been working tirelessly to address the global concern over poverty issues, research and theological reflection upon myriads of serious poverty issues. A decade later, Micah Network has embarked on reviewing the Micah Declaration in the hope of enriching its content to better address the present day situation around the world in a manner that reflect God’s mission and the role of the Church.
On the surface, if Integral Mission equals gospel proclamation plus social concern, then are many churches not on board already? What effect does this mode of engagement have in society, culture and value system? In the first instalment, I maintained that Integral Mission must be established upon the understanding of an Integral Gospel. A cheapened individualistic gospel is powerless in responding to societal and structural evil in many global issues. The Gospel is detached from social concern which is further degraded into a means for evangelism. Behaviour of Christians often faces challenges. If we contend that the Gospel should reach every corner of society, then social action should be carried out on incremental basis which could be categorised into three dimensions:
1. Relief and Provision—providing people in jeopardy with basic need and continuous assistance.
2. Development—transformation of individuals and communities; improvement in capacity and relation
3. Advocacy—addressing unjust authority or system
None of these three should be neglected. However, it is tempting for us to take the easy route of avoiding matters we are not familiar with.
It appears that Integral Mission focuses on saying and doing. In fact, I consider “being” as the most crucial of the three. Otherwise, everything may just be resounding gongs and clanging cymbals. Talk is cheap. The power of transformation comes from one life influencing another. On the other hand, bad examples are the greatest hindrances. We must therefore take a serious look at whether our own lives and our dispositions carry the fragrance of Christ. Undoubtedly, God needs not rely on us to carry out whatever mission or to witness on His behalf. It is, however, for our benefit that our faith may grow through the experience.
In addition to being, saying and doing, there are signs and the imprint of the work of the Holy Spirit. Integral Mission enables a community to live out the Kingdom of Heaven or move toward it. Such a community has the power to make a great impact. God’s truth and His Spirit can impact the hearts of those it touches even though not everyone would immediately come to faith in the Lord. Indeed this is something we can neither control nor plan. All we can do is being thankful.
God’s demand is crystal clear— to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. It is one thing to recite these words but quite a challenge to demonstrate true humility in deeds since each of us is self-righteous (Christians are worse at times). Walking with God may merely be the desire to have God fulfil one’s own will in disguise. Learning to practise Integral Mission requires us to humble ourselves and pre-conception and follow the will of God diligently.