The director of a 99-year-old mission organization says the third world countries require more than just a preaching and caring heart. They need to completely "transform lives, communities and nations."
World Gospel Mission (WGM), which has been very active in evangelism and humanitarian work for almost a century, is now moving in that direction.
Recently, it made steps to integrate the meeting of human needs and evangelistic efforts by appointing Dr. Philip Renfroe, physician and public health officer, as director of Compassionate Ministries.
"The problems that are being faced in third world countries require more than just preaching -- and more than just a caring heart," said Hubert Harriman, president of WGM. "Jesus Christ calls us to care for the whole person in a way that transforms lives, communities, and nations."
While many of the ways to do this -- clean water sources, education, medical care, and micro-loans -- are not new to WGM, the Compassionate Ministries program will focus on working with communities in developing solutions to problems or crises.
"Because these communities will themselves help develop the solutions -- like better agricultural methods, a new well, or a school -- it won't create the dependence that could be caused by simply handing out aid. This model requires relationships to be built, which is how we can share the gospel," said Harriman.
The appointment of Renfroe illustrates a trend in missions to carry out community transformation and evangelism with intentional precision. Renfroe has served as a missionary doctor in Kenya at Tenwek Hospital, and he is completing his masters degree in public health at the University of London, England, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
"He carries an evangelistic fervor for both the spiritual and physical needs of humanity as individuals and communities. I look forward to working closely with the Renfroes in this great and redemptive cause," said Harriman.
Renfroe plans to return to Kenya for a year to develop community health before implementing it in other countries where WGM is present.
Affiliated with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), WGM is an inter-denominational Christian holiness missionary agency headquartered in Marion, Ind., with many branches around the world.