What the Story of Ruth Teaches Us About Work and Poverty

By Darrow Miller

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Poverty is rooted in lies at the level of culture. One of the greatest causes of poverty in the world is the lie that “Work is a curse!” This lie is manifest globally in the lives of individuals, communities and nations. Yes, you read that correctly. The economic poverty of nations can most often be traced to the cultural lie that work is a curse.

Economic historians often trace the rise of wealthy nations to the impact of the “Protestant Work Ethic,” as articulated by the German social philosopher Max Weber. (See David Landes’s classic The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.)

A regionally famous Puerto Rican Salsa Band, the Grand Combo, recorded a song “I Do Nothing” which promotes laziness and machismo culture. This song impacted Puerto Rico economically, increasing poverty in the commonwealth.

Prior to the Reformation in Europe, virtually every nation in the world was impoverished. Of course most nations had wealthy families: aristocrats, land owners, royalty. But the masses were impoverished, often indentured servants, serfs or slaves. Those countries impacted by the Reformation were lifted out of poverty. The key: shifting the cultural understanding of work as a curse to work as part of human dignity.

After all, in Genesis 2:2 we see that God works: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” In Genesis 2:15 we read that man was put in the garden to work it: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” This was before the fall.

These passages reveal that work is both a reflection of God’s transcendent nature, in whose image we are created, and that human beings were made to work, to steward creation and govern the things that God has made.

The problem is that pastors begin teaching, and Christians reading, at Genesis 3. I call such folks “Genesis Three Christians.”

When we begin in Genesis 3 we see that man’s rebellion had consequences for work. Now a woman’s labor in childbirth – her work – would be more difficult, and man would work in the sweat of his brow; weeds would grow in the garden. It is important, however, to realize that work is not cursed, it is the ground that is cursed (Genesis 3: 17).

The Bible clearly teaches that work is part of our dignity. As the gospel goes forward, so too must the biblical understanding of the dignity of work. It is this understanding, at a cultural level, that sets the framework for human flourishing.

Work is not a curse ... it is part of our dignity!

Since man’s rebellion against God, natural evil has reigned. Earthquakes, floods, droughts, tsunamis and famine have been part of life. Famine is considered one of the greatest of natural disasters, and famines have occurred all over the world in all ages of history. Some have been man made, and some have been caused by nature.

The Bible records many accounts of famines. Most people are familiar with the great Egyptian famine in Genesis 41. Joseph warned Pharaoh that after seven bountiful years the land would suffer seven years of drought. Joseph recommended saving food during the good years to have provisions in the bad years. Thus the principle of savings was introduced to the world.

The book of Ruth mentions another famine which becomes the backdrop for establishing another biblical principle: the dignity of work.

Following the death of Josiah came the time of the judges, a period of moral and economic decline for the people of Israel. Twice we read, In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6; 21:25 ESV) During this period, a major famine struck Israel (Ruth 1:1).

As the famine turned brutal, an Ephrathite named Elimelech took his wife and two sons to neighboring Moab to find relief (1: 1-2). While there the sons married Moabite women. During a period of ten years, all three males died leaving their widows destitute (1:3).

Elimelech’s wife, Naomi, urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families and find new husbands. But Ruth refused to abandon Naomi, articulating one of the most beautiful testimonies in the scriptures:

Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do thus to me, and worse, if anything but death separates you and me! (1: 16-17)

When her mother-in-law freed her to go back to her family Ruth was faced with a choice between fatalism and freedom, between the Moabite, child-eating god Molech, and the life-giving God, Jehovah. Ruth declared faith in Naomi’s God and pledged her faithfulness to Naomi and her people.

Ruth’s hauntingly beautiful and defiant words still thrill us: “Your people shall be my people and your God my God.”

We see in Ruth the self-sacrificing character that marks the nature of the God of Israel. God is ISH –husband, to his people Israel. He is faithful to them even when they are unfaithful to him. God’s faithfulness and self-sacrificing love are rooted deeply in this young righteous Gentile. Her faith resulted in her entry in the royal genealogy of David’s throne (Matt 1:5).

When Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem, the people hardly recognized Naomi (1: 19). She voices her despair and bitterness from the deaths of her husband and sons.

But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi [meaning “Pleasant”]. Call me Mara [meaning “Bitter”], because the Almighty has brought great bitterness to me. I was full when I left, but the Lord has caused me to return empty. Why should you call me Naomi when the Lord has opposed me? The Almighty has brought misfortune upon me!” (1:20-21)

The Bible is realistic. It presents real people in real-life situations.

Most of us read the Bible for spiritual refreshment and principles. But how often do read the Bible to find principles that deal with current issues, like hunger and poverty?

How did Ruth, the righteous Gentile respond to this same destitution? After all, she was in the same circumstances as Naomi.

And what did Boaz, the gentlemen farmer, do to help her?

Naomi heard that the famine had lifted in Israel, so she and Ruth returned to her village.

Hebrew law required the land owner to leave part of the harvest for the poor to glean (Lev. 19:9; 23:22). So Ruth joined the gleaners in the field of Boaz, a relative of her deceased father-in-law (Ruth 2: 1-8).

What can we learn from Boaz’s response to this Moabite woman?

1. He recognized this “foreigner” and greeted her as “My daughter” (2:8). We see here a welcoming term of endearment for a fellow human being who was both a stranger and impoverished. Boaz did not shun her or consider her inferior. No, he made room for her in the circle of his community. This is reminiscent of Christ addressing women as “daughter” (Mark 5:34) and “child” (Luke 8:54). He was welcoming and inclusive, not shunning and dismissive, toward the impoverished foreigner. Boaz understood the heart of God that years later would become incarnate in the person of Christ.

2. He asked Ruth to join with the men and women of his household who were involved in the harvesting. He offered protection and sustenance while she worked (2:8-9).

3. In response to Ruth’s question of why she had found favor in his sight, he replied that it was because her self-sacrificial love for Naomi and the fact that she, had in faith, identified herself with the God of Israel “under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (2:10-12)

4. Ruth humbly recognizes Boaz’s godly character in the way he has treated her (2:13).

5. Boaz welcomed Ruth, a poor, hungry refugee, into his household; he had her sit at his table and then he served her.

At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. (2:14)

What is this? He served her! Normally it is the poor who serve the wealthy, the woman who serves the man. Did Boaz get it backwards?

No, Boaz understands the nature of God and His kingdom. As the successful farmer, he has a responsibility to help those less prosperous than himself. As a man, he is to serve the woman. No male chauvinism here. Here is a man who understands that all people—including women, the poor, and marginalized—are to be treated with respect and dignity. Here is a gentleman.

Boaz responds to the immediate need by providing food for Ruth from his own table. Then he makes longer term provision as well.

As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” (2: 15-16)

6. Boaz cared about Ruth’s dignity. She was an impoverished refugee. While Boaz was concerned about her physical situation, he knew that the way he helped her would determine if she became poorer. Ruth still had her dignity. Boaz knew that he could strip her of her dignity if he was not careful in the way he helped her.

What would have been the easiest thing for Boaz to do? What would have been easiest for him and for Ruth? Boaz could have simply ordered one of his harvesters to go to the field and bring back some of the harvested barley for Ruth. Providing for Ruth directly would have been the easiest for everyone concerned. But Boaz was not ruled by “easy,” nor by the pragmatic! He also was not motivated by his feelings, by what would make him feel good. No, he was interested in Ruth’s well-being, concerned for her physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

He recognized that to really help Ruth required more than simply giving her food. She needed an opportunity to work. That would be more costly for himself, for his workers, and for Ruth. So he ordered his servants to go out to the field and take “some of the stalks … from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up.”

In fact, the harvest was already in progress. The grain had been cut, left to dry, and then bundled to prepare for transportation to the threshing floor. But Boaz ordered his men to take some of the grain out of the bundles and lay it back on the ground, so that Ruth could work.

Boaz did not give Ruth food directly, he gave her an opportunity to work, to provide for her own needs and the needs of Naomi.

And what did Ruth do in response to Boaz’s thoughtful kindness and provision?

She worked.

So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough. 2:17-18

She was a refugee and probably weak from her years of hunger, but Ruth took advantage of the opportunity Boaz had given her. She gathered and threshed the barley and then transported the grain back to town where she and Naomi were staying. This was the midterm supply to meet their needs.

Ruth refused to simply accept her fate. She rebelled against her circumstances of hunger and poverty, rejecting the fatalism of her Moabite animistic culture. Ruth lived as a free woman in the shadow of the wings of the living God.

Ruth had worked all day and into the evening to make provision for herself and her mother-in-law. And she provided for Naomi’s immediate need for food: she gave Naomi what she had left over from the meal at Boaz’s home.

How did Naomi respond to what Ruth had done?

Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said. (2: 19)

Naomi did not ask Ruth where she got food. What question did she ask? “Where did you work?”

Poverty in the life of an individual or community will not be solved without recognizing the dignity of work. If work is a curse, if the goal is to live without working, the question becomes “Where did you get the food?” But in a more comprehensive framework, the question is “Where did you work?”

Note Ruth’s response. She identified the place where she had been working and the man with whom she had worked. Note as well that Boaz, the landowner, was working in the fields. Just because he was a wealthy landowner he might have relaxed. But work is part of human dignity. Not only did Ruth work, so did Boaz.

And finally, Naomi recognizes the role that Boaz is playing in their lives.

“The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.” (2:20)

Boaz is part of the Ephrathite clan and a distant relative of Naomi’s husband. As such he plays the part of the kinsman redeemer for Ruth and Naomi. This term refers to a relative who has a moral and legal responsibility to help extended family members in difficult straits (see Lev. 25:25-55).

In an era of moral bankruptcy, Boaz stood out as a godly man. He fulfilled his responsibility to care for the poor by providing gleanings from his field. The fruits of his labor and his fields were to be shared. He also took seriously his bond as a kinsman redeemer to take Ruth and Naomi under his wing.

Naomi’s life is restored because of the selflessness of Ruth and Boaz. She moves from hopelessness to happiness, from being empty to being filled, from being at serious risk of starvation to food security (1 1-5, 21, 3:17, 4:13-17).

This is the lesson that economic historians have recognized. It is the biblical concept of work that lifts people and communities out of poverty.

Good intentions do not help the poor. Often they create dependency and greater poverty. True service helps the poor in ways that allow their dignity to remain intact, or to be restored, and in a way that helps them to thrive, to move from poverty to flourishing. Boaz understood this and thus offered a way out of Ruth’s poverty.

We need to create opportunity, to encourage entrepreneurship, a spirit of discovery and innovation. These are the attitudes that set people free to create wealth for their families and communities. Enterprise and human freedom are the keys to ending poverty.

A heart for the poor is essential but not adequate. We need to have a mind for the poor, to develop thoughtful activity that actually helps people create wealth. For more on these things see this three-minute hard-hitting video from the people at Poverty Cure.

How do we help the poor? Do our misguided good intentions end up actually increasing poverty? Do we do things that are easier for us and perhaps easier for those who are poor? Or do we work alongside people who are impoverished? Do we create opportunities for them to work and to create wealth?

The story of Ruth has much to teach us about these important questions.

Darrow Miller is a world-renowned author and teacher on Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. He was discipled by Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. After serving as a pastor, he began 27 years at Food for the Hungry in 1981, serving there as vice president from 1994 to 2007 until he helped launch the Disciple Nations Alliance in 2008.

Darrow holds a master’s degree in adult education and pursued graduate studies in several other topics. He has written and co-written numerous books and articles which can be found at our printed books and resources sections, and he keeps a regular blog called Darrow Miller and Friends. He lives with his wife, Marilyn, in Arizona, and they have four children and 15 grandchildren.

This article was originally published in 2015 on DNA’s website, disciplenations.org. To learn more about Darrow and DNA, please visit disciplenations.org.

Mission to West Africa

By Ryan Lee

In December of 2017, One Kingdom Director Ben Adkins and I set out to West Africa to visit Sam Twumasi-Ankrah in Ghana and One Kingdom West Africa Ambassador Isaac Daye in Liberia. Both Sam and Isaac were presiding over graduations for their respective schools, Heritage Christian College and Restoration Bible and Agriculture Institute. This was my first trip to Africa, and I captured this experience through daily journals. Here is a first-person perspective into One Kingdom’s latest trip to Africa.

Day 1
I met Ben at the Monroe airport around 5:00 am. I didn’t sleep very well—I think I was just too excited. Before bed I spent about an hour creating a scavenger hunt for my two little boys. I hid 14 notes around my house, one for every day I will be away. Then I laid in bed, thinking about the trip. I can’t wait to see Sam and Isaac again. I can’t help but wonder what Ghana and Liberia will be like. I’m going to miss my family, but the anticipation of seeing my brothers again gives me high hopes for this trip.

We flew from Monroe, to Dallas, to London. I did my best to sleep on the flight from Dallas to London as we landed in London at 7:00 am local time. I was thinking to myself, “I should be more tired,” but I think the adrenaline of getting closer to our destination took care of that. We ate breakfast in the London airport as we awaited our next round of flights that would eventually get us to Accra.

The waitress in the restaurant was really in a foul mood and it showed. As she brought us our drinks, Ben said “obrigado,” which is Portuguese for “thank you.” He had noticed that on our waitress’s name tag was a Brazilian flag, indicating the country where she was born. Immediately her demeanor changed. It was like her whole day changed just because we were able to communicate with her about something familiar. We chatted for several minutes and she asked us about our travel, which gave us an opportunity to share about One Kingdom and ultimately, Jesus.

Day 2
We arrived in Ghana around 7:00 pm local time. Again, the travel exhaustion was replaced with excitement as we met up with our brother Sam Twumasi-Ankrah. We’ve had a relationship with Sam for many years dating back to when WFR Relief sent aid to Ghana during a famine in the early 1980’s. Sam is now the president of Heritage

Christian College, a school One Kingdom supports.

We traveled to Sam’s house where we met his wife Theresa and his son Kwame. Theresa prepared us a delicious meal of fish, rice, and the best pineapples I’ve ever tasted. I’m glad to not be in an airport or on a plane. Sam and his family are great hosts, and we immediately felt like family.

Day 3
We went to the college where Sam works. As they are prepping for the graduation tomorrow, it’s awesome to think about what’s going on at this school. Fully accredited by the Ghanaian National Accreditation Board, HCC will be graduating 23 men and women tomorrow from their Bible school. Heritage also has programs such as business administration, information technology, and computer science.

Hearing Sam talk about the future of Heritage is very inspirational. There are facilities that line half the property, but it’s the empty half that excites Sam the most. He plans to build a library, more classrooms, study halls, and  administration offices. The future looks bright here.

We met several of the graduates and the faculty. As we passed by one of the classrooms, we peeked in on a lecture by one of the professors, Winfred Sackey. With a booming voice, he said, “If you want to change the world, you cannot just baptize, you have to disciple!” We couldn’t have been more excited.

In the evening, Ben spoke to the upcoming graduates during a ceremony at the Nsawam Road Church of Christ. We met many of the members there and got to visit with the graduates and faculty. Everyone has been so nice to us. While English is spoken by most Ghanaians, the local language is Twi (pronounced ch-wee). We have learned several phrases and our new Ghanaian brothers and sisters are very patient with us.

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Day 4
Graduation day! You could tell how much this moment meant to each graduate. I talked to several of them, and one in particular, Theophilus, got my attention. He was very happy, yet at the same time very solemn. He told me that this was just the beginning. While he was excited to graduate and celebrate all the hard work he had put in, he was even more anxious to get out and start preaching the Gospel in his hometown. He was ready to be sent out and start changing lives.

The ceremony was amazing. It started with a long processional with the graduates singing hymns like “Onward Christian Soldier,” followed by the school’s alma mater. Ben gave the keynote speech and Sam put the finishing touches on the event with a final charge to the graduates. Sam called all of the graduates to the front of the stage and asked them to kneel in a circle. He and the rest of the faculty then laid hands on each student and prayed over the class. It was a very special and touching act that had many of the grads, their families, and myself overwhelmed with emotion.

We had dinner that night at Sam’s house, and he told us stories of how he grew up in the African bush, surviving on only what animals he and his brothers could trap. School was a luxury as his family couldn’t even afford a school uniform, but God provided him a way out. To see him as this strong, confident man, now in charge of a growing college, and discipling so many young men and women, was quite remarkable considering his humble beginnings. I really treasured sitting under his counsel and wisdom, learning from such a humble follower of Christ.

Day 5
We began the day by attending McCarthy Hill Church of Christ. Wow! The singing was fantastic. They sang mostly in Twi, but they gave us song books in English to follow along. God is moving in Ghana, and I am blessed to be surrounded by brothers and sisters who are sold out for Christ. It’s a reminder that even though we are separated by many things including language, we have the most important thing in common: our great love of God.

They have been raising money for a building, and after church we got a tour. The thing that struck me most was that they are building that church with the purpose of spreading the Gospel worldwide. There were a few rooms for preachers-in-training, who could live at the building while studying to go out and spread the Word. There were kitchen areas and storage rooms to prepare supplies to send out in cases of disaster relief as well.

After the tour, Sam invited us to go to a birthday party for one of his friends who was turning 70. During the party, he stood up to thank several people there. He looked over in our direction, and he recognized Ben and me. He told a story about how he was the government accountant for the relief efforts during Ghana’s famine back in 1981, and he saw how much our church helped out his people. Even though Ben and I were still in diapers at the time, he thanked us as representatives of WFR Relief and for carrying on the legacy through One Kingdom. What a special honor that was.

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Day 6
Today was our last full day in Ghana. A cloud started moving in and it looked as though there was a huge dust storm coming. We learned this was called Harmattan. It’s a short season that occurs at this time of year where northern winds blow dust from the Sahara Desert into West Africa. While it was a little dusty, it also cooled the 90+ degree temps just enough for us to get some relief from the West African heat.

We spent some time with Sam at Heritage talking about the future of HCC. We have such high hopes for this school as it continues to impact young people in Ghana who are learning so much about who God is. We talked about new programs for the school, the building plans for the future and even a succession plan for Sam as he continues to disciple his staff and the ones who will someday replace him. I’m so impressed at what a humble, authentic leader Sam is. I feel blessed to call him a friend.

We spent our last night in Sam’s house eating dinner and then watching a soccer match with Sam and his son Kwame. While I’m not the biggest soccer fan, I have to admit that watching a game with the guys felt a little like home.

Day 7
We left early that morning to catch our flight from Accra to Monrovia, Liberia. We arrived in Monrovia that afternoon and were greeted by Emmanuel, one of Isaac’s drivers. He picked us up in a moving truck, and we headed towards Isaac’s house which was on

the other side of Monrovia. My first impression of Liberia—really the only word that came to mind—was lush. It was so beautiful and green. With a country ravished in poverty, it was quite shocking to see what fertile ground they lived on.

As we left the airport, Emmanuel turned on the radio which happened to be playing Christmas music. We passed through downtown Monrovia and you could still see the after-effects of the civil war that took place not too long ago. Vacant buildings, roads destroyed, a cemetery ravaged by grave robbery during the war, with the bodies used for food and the graves used for shelter. It was quite shocking. Bing Crosby’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” played on the radio. I have to say, it was an odd feeling listening to that song as we passed through the city. I couldn’t help but think, back home everybody’s Christmas shopping, hanging decorations, going to parties, and gearing up for Christmas. It didn’t feel like Christmas at all in that truck. I didn’t really miss all of the hoopla that I assumed was going on back home. It may be a little cliché to say, but riding through one of the most impoverished cities in the world listening to an American Christmas classic will change your perspective on how you celebrate Christmas.

As we passed through the city, we stopped to pick up Bill and Kay Orange who were working at a free clinic they had set up that morning. Bill, an agriculture instructor at Restoration Bible and Agriculture Institute, and Kay, a registered nurse, are Tennessee natives who have been working in Liberia for over 30 years. We also picked up four students who were working the clinic with them.

Night fell as we approached Isaac’s house. It was unbelievably dark. There was no electricity in this area, another sign of war-torn Liberia. We finally got to the house and saw our brother Isaac and his wife, Fatu. We shared a meal and celebrated being together again.

Day 8
I awoke to a familiar voice: Alan and Lisa Robertson had arrived late last night and were joining us for this leg of the trip. As friends and supporters of Isaac and RBAI, Alan and Lisa were not going to miss such a momentous event as the school’s first graduation.

After a short breakfast, we ventured out to the school. I was so thrilled to finally see the campus of RBAI, a school we’ve been praying over for years. While Ben had seen it many times, this was my first time getting to tour the campus.

The first thing that sticks out about the school is that it’s in the middle of the bush. There was nothing in the area before they broke ground, which is symbolic of the nature of the school. The Restoration Bible and Agriculture Institute is one part school of preaching/one part school of farming. RBAI teaches students the Gospel and how to make disciples, as well as how to farm the land around you using Biblical principles. God can restore Liberia into prosperity and He can use even you.

Another moving part of the Restoration campus is the radio station. For years, One Kingdom Ambassador Isaac Daye has been a World Radio speaker. He has given countless teachings through a weekly radio show on Magic FM in Monrovia. When the owner of Magic FM decided he wanted to sell the radio station, he gave Isaac first rights of refusal, because he had been so impacted by Isaac over the years. Isaac leapt at the opportunity, and with the help of One Kingdom and its partners, Magic FM has been transformed into Restoration FM with the studio and radio tower on RBAI’s campus. Now, instead of a weekly radio show, Isaac and his team are bringing eight hours of Gospel-centered programming every day.

Ben and I got a chance to meet with the station manager and DJ, David Kohn. We spent about an hour live on Restoration FM talking about One Kingdom and the impact the gospel is having on Liberia. David is a special man with many talents; he loves Liberia and he is passionate about bringing the Word to his native land.

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Day 9
Today we looked at the garri processing facility which is being built on campus. Of everything going on in West Africa, this is perhaps the project I am most excited about. Garri is a floury starch made from cassava, which is one of Liberia’s most fruitful crops. It is used in most meal preparations in Liberia. Isaac’s vision is to start producing garri at their campus facility. As graduates of the RBAI program go back to their tribes and start farming cassava on their land, they will have a local buyer that will in turn sell the garri produced to the local community and beyond. Currently, there are no garri producers in Liberia. All garri is imported from Nigeria,

which makes this one of the most important projects in all of Liberia. This not only will help the graduates continue farming in their respective communities, but it will also create jobs locally in Monrovia. The profits will go to support the Restoration school. These are the kinds of ideas that transform nations.

Day 10
Graduation Day in Liberia. We all gathered at the school for the first-ever graduation. Just like in Accra, families poured in to watch their sons receive their diplomas and be honored for two years of hard work. About half of the men had wives and children who they had only seen on weekends or school breaks for the past two years. It was quite a sight to see the jubilation.

During the ceremony, the graduating class unveiled a monument they had built in front of the school, commemorating the first graduating class and the faculty. It brought a moment of thankfulness and hope as we all envisioned looking back at this monument 10, 20, or even 30 years down the road and celebrating the progress of the school.

Ben and Alan both spoke, giving charges to the men who were about to go back to their tribes and villages to lead their families and communities. The whole day was a celebration. Families danced, mother’s cried, sons embraced their fathers—it truly was a magical day. We visited with many of the grads, exchanging information to keep in touch with their new ventures.

Perhaps one of the most inspiring stories was that of Amara Kamara. Amara came to the RBAI as a Muslim hoping just to learn about agriculture—but curious about Jesus. He studied with Isaac for a while and became more and more passionate about God. After Isaac baptized him, he went home to see his family. They denounced him as their son, burned all of his clothes and possessions, and he was told never to return. Amara had lost his family, but had gained everything. He told me that story, and I could see how zealous he was for Christ. None of his hardship had deterred him and his passion for sharing God’s love. Amara’s plan is to seek Muslims and tell them the story of Jesus. He’s already baptized a couple of men from his community, and I expect big things will be done through Amara.

The graduation ended and we all retired back to Isaac’s house to eat and rest and reflect on such a great day for the Kingdom.

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Day 11
We woke up, said our goodbyes, and headed to the airport in Monrovia. On our way back home, I began reflecting on what an unbelievable two weeks it had been. I loved so much seeing and strengthening relationships with my brothers Sam and Isaac. These are two of the best men I know on this planet who work tirelessly so that more people can truly know who God is and that God Himself can be glorified. I’m happy about the new friends I made such as Sackey, David, and Emmanuel. And I’m hopeful about what God has in store for men like Theophilus and Amara.

More than that, I’m so thankful for how God is moving in West Africa. He is showing His people there is a life to be lived while we are here. We’re not meant to stay in poverty or brokenness. While money can help, you cannot change a nation with only money. Real change begins in your mind. Seeing who you are as God has designed you to be will be the true catalyst in changing a nation. I’ve seen that in Ghana and Liberia, and it gives me so much joy.

As we board the plane, I have two overwhelming feelings: I can’t wait to get home and see my family. But, I can’t wait to come back.

The Question of Poverty

By Ben Adkins

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I know people who are poor as a result of bad life choices, laziness, lack of education, and living in sin. I also know poor people all around the world who are Godly, hardworking, intelligent disciple-makers who love the Lord with all of their being and lead others to do the same. So…what’s the difference between these two and how can both be afflicted by the trap of poverty?

Poverty is such an intricate issue with such a simple, yet complex answer. The ‘what’ part of the answer is very simple, but the ‘how’ part of that same answer is very complex. Despite the complexities of the issue or the answer, the good news is that both individuals and nations can escape the oppressive trap of poverty, and many are doing just that.

For me to tell you that I can provide you the complex answer to poverty within this newsletter would be arrogant and foolish. I can share with you a fraction of my limited life experience with poverty and pray that God leads you to do something about it yourself.

This article’s focus will not be to load you down with facts and figures that you can find in many different places, but to give you a glimpse into the real human impact of those numbers.

We believe that the Gospel is God’s total answer to man’s total need. So, why does poverty still exist? That brings us to the ‘how’ of the Gospel’s answer for this problem.

There are really two ways to look at the solution: one is through direct, relational, discipleship-based ministry to individuals who live every day in poverty. The other is to look at the economic systems, governmental systems, and collective values and freedoms that produce wealth or poverty for nations. The individual ministry aspect should be the very thing that influences the systematic aspect. It really does begin with the individual response to God’s good news and His way of life.

I have a good friend in West Africa who watched his own daughter die in his arms from starvation. She starved to death…let that sink in for a minute. Can you imagine holding your child during her last breath because of not having enough food? This man is not lazy, not ignorant, not immoral. He is a Godly man who lives his whole life for the Lord and has dedicated his family and life to serving King Jesus.

How could this happen? Through no fault of his own, my friend was living through the second of his nation’s bloody civil wars that lasted eleven years combined. During this same time, he was also caring for a group of Christians who had nowhere else to turn. An unstable government driven by power and greed forced a wartime economic system that was unbearable. No food, no safety, no shelter—just literally running for your life and trying to find enough food for your family to survive.

Today, my friend is not bitter, but full of joy and, with the biggest smile

on his face, grateful for the time he had with his daughter. He is grateful to God for providing enough for the rest of his family to survive. Today, with a heart abandoned, he leads people into deep knowledge of our Lord and a closer walk with Him.

There are many places on earth where people just survive—but don’t thrive. Many of these people live under the heavy oppression of poverty brought on by failed models of government, failed economic systems, and nations driven by a worldview that doesn’t match up with reality or the design by which God has created them to live.

This is why the Gospel is called good news. Through the power of the Gospel being lived out, people and nations can be transformed as they draw closer to the way they were meant to live. Even nations that don’t embrace a Biblical worldview, but employ Biblical principles in their economic systems, live better (at least in terms of economics) than nations who don’t.

The answer is found in the Gospel not just being known, but being lived. That truth is the same for you, for me, and for the poorest person on planet Earth.

At One Kingdom, we are dedicated to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the whole world in their language and walking with people as they grow to understand what the Gospel means to their daily life, in the market, at home, and in their heart. During disasters or situations that are outside the control of anyone, we will offer help where God has raised up people in His kingdom to carry out that work. We work through local Christians so that the glory goes to God, and the local Christians are the face of the relief that comes in times of great need. This is followed up with relationships that matter for now and for eternity.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” —Luke 4:18-19 NIV

It is time for people who live in poverty to be set free.

Turkish Missionaries

Transcription by Kyle Gilmore

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Due to the current political climate in Turkey, we have changed the names of these two Christian missionaries to “Gwen” and “David,” and we are unable to show their faces.

“Gwen,” tell us a little bit about your upbringing and when you started understanding who Christ was.
“Gwen”: I grew up in an amazing Christian family that deeply loved God. They taught me so much about how to love the Word of God, to listen to it, to follow it, and to obey it. My family helped start a church and were a big part of running it. We were typically the first ones to get there and the last ones to leave. My dad was a preacher, as were several other family members.

However, our family focused a great deal on rules and regulations, and I had a tremendous fear of God. I would wake up in the middle of the night scared that I hadn’t ask for forgiveness for my latest sins. When I heard thunder or a train, I would think, “Oh, that’s Jesus coming back! I must remember my latest sins and ask for forgiveness, or I am going to go to hell.” That is the kind of relationship I had with God at the time.

Later, when I went to college, I met people who talked about Jesus as if he were a real person. I was so attracted to the relationship they had and thought, “There really is something more to this than a checklist of do’s and don’ts.” 

I saw something deeper—more joy than I had ever experienced before. From that point on, my life began to radically change.

Three girls took me under their wing and walked with me throughout the rest of my college years. They taught me how to spend time in the Word. This changed my life because I really began to go deeper into God’s Word. It wasn’t long before I decided to dedicate my life to campus ministry.

Can you think of a time when you were at college when you first experienced God for yourself?
During my freshman year in college, my mentors asked me to help plan a girl’s retreat. I really thought a lot about how to make the retreat great for everyone. 

On the second day of the retreat, I was alone, and the love of God was revealed to me. I can’t explain how or what happened. I lost it and cried for a long time over the grace that had been extended to me—a young woman who was lost and so far from God. Even though I grew up doing the ‘church thing,’ my life behind the scenes was far from God—far from living the way He wanted me to live.

I knew then that the guilt I had carried for so many years because of my past sins could be gone. I could walk in freedom and enjoy the love of Jesus.

Tell us little bit about how your friends could tell a difference in you.
During Christmas break, I went back home and saw all of my high school friends again. Most of them had never gone to college at that point. They were living the same way we had lived before.  

In going home, I knew that it was going to be a real challenge for me to live out the joy and freedom I felt in Jesus Christ and to love these people when I was around them. I really wanted them to see a difference in me.

It was a difficult Christmas break in that way, but God showed me some powerful things, and my friends could see the difference. Everyone around me could tell that I was different.  

It has been thirty years ago, but I still remember those days and the power of Jesus’ love changing everything.  

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Tell us a little bit about campus ministry and why you got involved, and why it is so important to you.
I originally intended to major in education because I had always wanted to be a teacher, but so many people showed me how to walk with Jesus. They spoke of him like they were his friend. Getting to stay up late at night and hear them talk about their faith was truly life-changing.  

I thought to myself, “I’m a female in the church; I’m probably not going to go into campus ministry full-time. I’ll marry a minister, so that’ll be good enough.”

However, God just kept pursuing and pursuing me, and people kept showing me other females who were in campus or youth ministry full-time. I began to realize that God was opening doors for me. I would wake up every morning and wonder, “What do I want to do with my life?” I didn’t want to do anything except pour Jesus’ love into college students and help them walk with the Lord.

I realized that God had given me a passion for campus ministry and that I should pay attention to it.

How did you meet “David?”
Our campus ministry hosted a seminar that year, and for the entire week, our staff had been praying for me to find a full-time position somewhere. The last thing we did at the seminar was to conduct a business meeting. I was sitting next to a fellow who stood up and said, “I am a campus minister at a nearby university, and we plan to hire a full-time female campus minister within the next year. If anyone is interested, please see me after the meeting.”

I thought, “Did he just say what I think he said?” All of the other campus minsters flooded around him and told him that he needed to talk to me. So he looked at me, and said, “Well, I guess you and I need to talk.” Within six months, I was working full-time in campus ministry.

About a year later, I was at an event where one of the activities was bobbing for apples. “David” and I went for apples at the same time and bumped heads. It was a hard hit. I had a goose egg for a couple of weeks. 

Later on, he came by to check on me.  We started talking and realized that we had a lot of common interests. About a year later, we were engaged and later married. He joined me at the campus ministry at the university.

So, how did you guys end up in Turkey?
God had put it on our hearts to move.  It certainly wasn’t what I wanted. I loved what we were doing and had no desire to leave. But we felt God had made it very clear that this is what he wanted us to do. So “David” began looking for a new job, and I resigned from the campus ministry.  He found a great job in another city where we lived for seven years.

Shortly after we moved there, a couple from our church told us they were planning to become full-time missionaries to Turkey. We spent a lot of time with them and grew to love them. We enrolled in a class called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, which teaches people about what God is doing in the world. 

For the first time, we were exposed to unreached people groups—people who had absolutely no access to the Gospel. I had spent my entire adult life with kids who had plenty of access to Bibles.

This shouldn’t have surprised me, but it took me aback to think that there were people out there who didn’t even have the Bible in their own language. I didn’t sleep for a while—it really messed up my thoughts. I thought about all of the people who will live and die and never hear the name of Jesus. I couldn’t handle it! Nor could my husband.

We had considered going into missions at some point, but we figured we’d stay in campus ministry and take short-term mission trips. We went with our friends to Turkey for ten days, and while we were there, it felt as if a door was opening for us.

After that, we returned to Turkey every year for five years, taking teams with us. We figured that would be the extent of our mission work, but it seemed as if God was wanting more from us.

We attended a Turkish worship service (where I didn’t understand a single word), and I wept at the faith that these oppressed people had. I knew the pastor who stood before the church had his life threatened because of his faith. I also knew that members of the congregation had risked so much to follow Jesus. It was gut-wrenching and powerful.

Even then, I still felt as if my place was in campus ministry. Later, my husband and I attended a university seminar where a professor talked about how he had gone back to school to earn his Ph.D. in order to be able to be a professor on campus. Afterward, still thinking only of campus ministry, my husband asked me, “What if I do that? What if I go back and earn a Ph.D.? That way I can spend more time on campus, and we can keep doing what we are doing.”

So with two children in the family, he quit his job and got to work on his doctorate. It was tough; we even had to get food stamps and do whatever else we could in order to survive.  

During this time, our missions minister approached us and said, “You know, I don’t think this is what God has in store for you for the long term. I think you should be thinking about moving to Turkey full-time. The family that lives there wants you to join them.  They’re looking for teammates, and you guys are perfect.” To be honest, we had already been thinking about it, but I suppose we just needed someone to spur us on.  

That’s the story of how we ended up moving to Turkey four years ago. Since then, we’ve both been involved with campus ministry and working with refugee camps.

“David,” let’s start with your journey to Christ.
“David”: I was raised in a very strong Catholic family. We went to mass almost every Sunday, but I wouldn’t say that we were followers of Jesus. When I would complain about going, my mom would say, “God only requires one hour of your life per week, and you’re complaining about that one hour?”

That was the perception I had of God, of Jesus, and of church. I give only one hour per week.  

When I became a teenager and went off to college, that one hour per week became ‘no hours per week.’ I jumped right into the freshman life. Late Saturday nights don’t make good Sunday mornings.

However, during my sophomore year in college, I was at a study session with a friend of mine who would later go on to become a preacher. After we studied and I was getting ready to go home, he had a talk with me about whether or not I thought I was missing something in my life. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but I do remember that at some point he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You know that feeling that something’s missing? That’s God—that’s the Holy Spirit trying to get your attention.”

It really stuck with me.

Over the next few years, I began attending church with him. In fact, I took an internship with the church and attended regularly. One day, one of the elders asked me if I’d ever been baptized. At that point, I thought getting baptized just meant that you become a part of the church. Maybe he sensed this misconception in me, so he asked me if we could talk about it sometime.

I didn’t want to wait. That night, we sat down and opened the Bible, studying for an hour and a half. When we finished, he asked me what I thought. I told him I wanted to be baptized. When he asked me if I was ready to do it on the spot, I was like, “What? Right now?” So we went to the baptistery, just he and I, and did it right then and there.

So from that point on how were you different?
The lack of fear was noticeable right from the moment I became a

true believer in Christ. I grew up with the belief that the only way you were going to be able to go to heaven was if you died without any sin at all. Like when I left the confessional when I was a kid, I would think, “Man, if I could just get hit by a truck right now, I know I’d go to heaven.” That’s really no way for a kid to grow up.  

That fear of constantly going in and out of salvation was now gone. I was now walking in the light, and I think the peace that comes with that had to be noticeable.

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Tell me about how you got involved with Turkey.
I was working full-time as a software developer, but I was still active in our local college ministry. One of the things I became really passionate about was video editing. So, I started editing for a campus ministry conference where “Gwen” was a board member. One day during the conference, she came to me and said, “For years, you’ve supported me and my passion for campus ministry. God told me today that it’s now time for me to support your passion.” Now there was an outlet for us to do some video editing at a church in another town; all we had to do was move there.

I began to look for other jobs because I knew that I couldn’t support our family on what I would make starting a business like this. Finally, I was offered a position. I took the offer, and we moved.

During the first couple of years in our new church, we met a young couple that was heavily involved in missions. We immediately became good friends. Our church was sending them to Turkey as missionaries to share the Gospel. My wife went with them on a trip to scout for a place to live. When she returned, she told me, “You must go to Turkey; it is an amazing place.”

We had previously been on a couple of short term mission trips, so I thought that this trip was going to be like another one of those. However, about six months after that couple had gone into the mission field, my wife and I decided to go to Turkey and offer our support.  

We got to see where they lived while staying with them in their house.  It was an incredible experience. We knew that God was doing something remarkable in Turkey, and we wanted to be a part of that. For a few years, we would lead mission teams and stay for a week and a half.

One of the things about Turkey is that Americans would consider it a culturally closed country. If we were going to stay for an extended period of time, the government required that we have a legitimate reason to stay there. In other words, we needed a job. We wanted to go there to share the love of Jesus, but the Turkish government didn’t accept that as a purpose.

As a result, one of the things we were praying for is that God would open up opportunities for us to find employment in Turkey. You can only claim ‘language learning’ as your purpose for being there for so many years. A man I met at a campus ministry conference had found out that if he worked as a psychology professor, he could stay in Turkey, work as a professor, and still work as a campus minister. I thought that maybe God was saying to me, “That’s the way for you!”

And I began to tell my wife, “I think God wants me to be a university professor in Turkey, so I can be on campus at the university.” She agreed with me, “That’s amazing! That would be a fantastic way to do that.” So, I began taking classes online through a university.

About a year into my online studies, I had a meeting with our minster, and he asked me how long it would take me to complete my degree. When I informed him that it would be another five years due to the fact that I was not enrolled part-time, he asked me if there was any way I could speed that up. I told him that if I could quit my job and pursue my studies full-time, I could be finished sooner.  

He asked me to pray about doing just that.  My wife and I did begin to pray about it with our missions committee, and I began to make preparations to attend school full-time.

As soon as I finished my studies, a door opened for us to move to Turkey.  We started looking for universities that might have open teaching positions in my field. Finally, I found one, went for an interview, and they wound up offering me the position.  We’ve been in Turkey ever since.

 

“Gwen,” “David,” and their children are all now safely back in Turkey.

We felt extremely blessed to have them stop by our offices and share their stories. We are happy to help in supporting their work, and donations like yours make this work possible. Please pray for this family, their safety, and for them to continue to share the Kingdom with those around them.

To learn more about these two missionaries, their work in Turkey, and the current political situation there, please check out our video ‘Turkish Missionaries’ on YouTube, or on our website.

A Prisoner, No Longer

By Gracia Burnham

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I know what it is like to not be free. And I didn’t like it. My husband, Martin Burnham, and I were missionaries in the Philippines. Martin was a jungle pilot, and we loved our ministry there. Martin was no ordinary pilot; he was born to fly in the jungle. He could put a loaded Cessna down on a short jungle mountain strip just where he needed to and get it stopped in the next few hundred feet. He did that daily, over and over, for 15 years, taking cargo into the mountains and doing medical evacuations.

In May of 2001, we were awakened early in the morning to loud pounding on our door. Moments later, three men armed with M-16 rifles broke down the door to kidnap us.

The masked men were Abu Sayyaf, a militant Muslim terrorist group with ties to Al-Quaeda and Osama bin Laden. My husband and I were forced from our room and taken many miles across the open sea to the Muslim stronghold of Basilan. For more than a year, we were constantly on the move, living in primitive conditions in the jungle, evading capture from the Philippine military, and enduring gun battles—all under the total control of our captors.

Soon after the events of September 11th, the news media took a greater interest in our plight, and began keeping our story in the national headlines. As a result, millions of people around the globe began praying for our safe release.

On the afternoon of June 7, 2002, over a year since our abduction, the bullets erupted once more. Tragically, Martin was killed during the gunfight. I was rescued and returned home under a national spotlight.

During the time of my recovery, I wrote In the Presence of My Enemies. This personal testimony of our account in the jungle landed on the New York Times Bestseller list. I have since written a second book, To Fly Again.

I now travel throughout the country, sharing the spiritual lessons I learned during my captivity and about how God has blessed me and my family since Martin’s death.

One Kingdom asked me to talk about my ideas on freedom in this issue of their newsletter.

I commented that sometimes you don’t really appreciate your freedom until it is taken away from you. I recalled how at Easter time—almost a year into our captivity—someone paid a ransom for Martin and me. 

You can imagine our excitement when some of the money came into the camp. This was it!  It is what we had been waiting for!  We could all go home!

The leaders of the Abu Sayyaf all gathered around and had a meeting. Then they called Martin and me to come and sit on the ground with them. They said, “Someone has paid a ransom for you, but we’ve decided that it’s not enough. We are going to ask for more.”

I begged them not to do that. I said, “We are sick of this. You are sick of this! Just take the money and let’s all go home.” But they hardened their hearts, because they were greedy, so they demanded more money.

You can imagine how defeated we felt that night as we laid down on the jungle floor to try and get some sleep. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, Martin nudged me and said, “Gracia. I’m so glad that when Jesus paid a ransom for us, it was enough. Christ’s death­—his payment—for us was sufficient. It satisfied God, and there is nothing charged against us anymore. There doesn’t need to be any more sacrifice for sin, because Jesus paid it all! It is finished. It’s done”

Those words encouraged me so much. I think sometimes we just need to be reminded of a few things, because we forget easily! We have been given freedom because of what Jesus did for us! I guess I needed lots of reminders in the jungle. And God often used Martin to deliver those reminders. 

I would be so mad at those guys that I would say unbelievably hateful things about them. Anger was always right below the surface. It was shocking, really, to see my heart for what it was. 

Martin saw how much I was struggling and began to gently point my sin out to me. And when I got a good look at myself—and saw the awfulness of what was happening to me—I cried out to God, “God, I don’t want to be this way. But I hate these guys. I want to be characterized by love, and joy, and peace. Not hate, and depression, and being hard to get along with. Can you help me? Can you free me from this hatred and anger? Sometimes I think we are in such a bad way—such a mess—that we think not even God can fix us.”

One day there was a huge mountain ahead of us that we had to climb. I was carrying a heavy load that day and struggling again with hatred toward my enemies. As we started up the mountain, these words from the Scriptures hit me:

Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

It was suddenly so clear to me. The weight that I needed to set aside wasn’t the extra weight in my backpack that they were making me carry that day. It was the weight of the sin of hatred and unforgiveness that I wasn’t willing to give up.

“Let us lay aside every weight,” I said. Just lay it down. Decide you are not carrying that hatred any more. Give it up.” And I kept talking this through in my mind: “And once the weight is gone, run with patience the race set before you.  Today, the race before me is getting to the top of that mountain. Do it one step at a time with patience. And when you think you can’t take one more step, look to Jesus. Because Jesus can sympathize, Gracia. He knows how you feel today.” One day, Jesus carried a heavy load up a hill for me.

God changed me in the jungle. I found freedom from a good many things as He worked in my heart. I love those verses in Galatians 5 about our freedom. “We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong in that freedom.  Don’t go back into slavery again.”

It would be ridiculous for me to go back to being a hostage again, wouldn’t it?  I have never once said, “I wish I was back in the jungle with the Abu Sayyaf.”

Paul was reminding the Galatians that God chose them to be free—so use your freedom to serve one another. Live the way the Spirit leads you.

After Martin’s death and my recovery, God prompted me to serve my enemies. I found some of the guys who held us captive in a maximum security prison in the Philippines. I have been able to bless them through an American couple that works in the prison. So far, four of them have come to know Jesus as their Savior!

Good things happen when you let God change you. My kids are grown now, and by God’s grace, our family has remained committed to the Lord.  

Well, you can’t take ‘the missionary out of the missionary’ so I want to just remind everyone that there are people who aren’t free all around you. They are slaves to sin. They need to hear the Gospel of Jesus so they can experience salvation and enjoy eternity with God.

We have been set free. Let’s share this freedom that we have found with others and the whole world.

Gracia is the mother of Jeff, Mindy, and Zach. She resides in Rose Hill, Kansas and speaks regularly around the country. Her unique story and the captivating way she tells it makes Gracia a popular speaker for churches, conferences, and schools.

If you ask Gracia about life these days, she will say, “the Lord’s mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.”

To learn more about Gracia and her journey, visit her website at: graciaburnham.org

How a Christian Worldview Influenced America's Founding Fathers

By Andrew Stebbins

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It might be fair to say that most Americans tend to take our freedom for granted. We forget that our freedom was hard-won and is not guaranteed. In fact, the liberties we cherish are privileges not many societies enjoy. Tyranny, in its many guises, is the historical norm. In truth, we do have an extraordinary amount of freedom in the United States, and there are profound reasons for that stemming directly from our Christian heritage.

As the founding fathers set up a new government, they started from what scholars consider a Reformed Christian worldview. Of the 54 signers of the Declaration, 29 were ordained ministers, and most of the others were deeply religious men. The idea that the majority of the founders were deist is an exaggeration passed on over time, as only a handful might be claimed as such, and even this is difficult to verify by our understanding of the term.

The founding fathers’ Christian worldview was “the single greatest influence on the content and interpretation of America’s foremost founding documents: The Declaration of Independence (1776), the Constitution (1787), and the Bill of Rights (1789).”1

The biblical worldview can be summed up in three words: creation, fall, redemption. These three words birthed the equality of all humanity before God (creation), human nature as evil (fall), and the inherent value of the individual (redemption). These ideas lay at the root of the formation of modern democracy everywhere, most especially in America.

1. Equality of All Humanity before God

The Christian notion of equality says that people are equal because (1) God made humanity in His image; and (2) He loved us enough to have sacrificed His Son for each of us. Rather than being based on abilities, appearance (race, ethnicity, sex), achievements, or social position, a person’s worth is inherent. We are equal simply because God values us equally. Human worth is God dependent and God ordained; human assessment is irrelevant. The founding fathers recognized this view of humanity in the Declaration of Independence’s famous opening statements:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

The Christian view of equality runs counter to common human impulses and is unique to the Christian West. In most of the world’s cultures, social hierarchy is more or less rigidly prescribed and the rules of social engagement are correspondingly tight.

2. Human Nature as Evil

People often falsely equate being kind and considerate with being good. In the Christian worldview, however, God holds His creation to a far higher standard of goodness based on His law. Because of our fallen nature, humans fail to reach this standard.

This idea is also unique to the Christian worldview. Most worldviews see human nature as good, or at least not evil. The Confucian worldview, for example, and most modern secular humanistic worldviews, see humanity as inherently good.2

The founders’ Christian worldview, buttressed by their experiences, left them with a profound distrust of human nature.3 They believed that man could not be trusted with absolute power over their fellow men. By creating a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances—both of which were written into the Constitution4—the founders made it difficult for any individual or branch of government to gain too much control over human affairs.

3. The Inherent Value of the Individual

Despite our fallen state, God was still willing to sacrifice His Son, giving each of us an opportunity for salvation. Jesus’ redemptive act alone shows the incredible value God has accorded to each individual. In most societies throughout history, the individual is not the locus of identity. For most of the world, a person’s identity is subsumed in the group(s) they are a part of. The collective is the locus of identification, and is of far greater significance than the individual. Christians, however, hold a high estimation of individual worth and this biblical view was not lost on the founders.

So committed were they to the idea that any system not governed by the people would ultimately lead to tyranny that the founders enshrined this idea in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They believed the individual should have the right to partake in electing his representatives. This belief, in itself, was a radical notion for a government, brought on by the founders’ belief in the inherent value of the individual.

In creating the Bill of Rights, the founders sought to further protect the rights of the individual; Only a high valuation of the individual could possibly result in a society granting all people, regardless of race, gender, or social position, inalienable rights that no one, not even the king, could infringe upon.

Such ideas are unique in themselves, but even more so in combination. Their overarching influence in the formation of American democracy has been so strong that it is difficult to imagine our system of governance forming under any other ideological circumstances. These ideologies were central to producing the right of the people to choose their leaders, the separation of powers, the system of checks and balances, and the notion of the inviolable rights of the individual.

Andrew Stebbins received his PhD in sociology from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia in 2009 and currently teaches at the Central Ohio Technical College in Newark, Ohio.

This article was originally published on July 26, 2016 on Reasons to Believe’s blog. Reason to Believe’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature.

For more information, please visit their website at reasons.org.

Sources:
1. William Watkins, The New Absolutes (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1996), 56.
2. Betty Kelen, Confucius: In Life and Legend (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1971), 98.
3. Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 257.
4. Richard Morris, The Framing of the Constitution (Washington, DC: US Department of the Interior, 1986), 25.

What Does It Mean To Be Free?

By Derek Poole

As Americans, it can be difficult for us to know what freedom means. For most of us, it is rarely threatened. But the more I speak with our ambassadors, missionaries, and World Radio speakers, the more I learn about the struggles people face every day in other parts of the world.

Recently, we were visited by Larry and Cathy Bowles, as well as the Turkish missionaries whose stories we’ve featured in this newsletter. It’s difficult for me to articulate how impactful their work is, because I cannot be present in their respective parts of the world. But what I can say is that I came away from these missionaries feeling enlightened, awestruck, and blessed. Asee Darla (our South Asia ambassador) visited us in November, and I had a similar experience then, too.

There are so many cultural issues, powerful social pressures, and religious/political agendas at play. Sharing your beliefs with another has its own set of obstacles here at home, but it’s unfathomable to me that simple, basic rights are constantly being denied to millions of people every day. However, I find it encouraging that there are countless men and women who are willing to do and give so much for the sake of truth. The work being done in Greece and Turkey is literally changing the world. This gives me hope. Could something like that happen here? Could we change the course of our culture?

Of course we can.

I read an article recently by Matt Walsh describing situations for Christians in the East and the West. In the East, he says, Christians lose their lives, while in the West they lose their souls.

By this, he means that we’ve become distracted; lulled to sleep. And for many of us, that’s true. It’s easy to get caught up in the media storm, in politics, in consumerism and material consumption. And as for me as a graphic designer, I’m exposed to this perhaps a little bit more than most. All the images, words, and noise thrown at you every day are designed to make you pay special attention to it and come back for more.

Walsh writes that:

Our faith is stagnant and stale. We don’t cling desperately to God. We cling to other things: our jobs, our relationships, our ambitions, our friends, our hobbies, our phones, our pets. We don’t even think of Him most of the time. We make no attempt to conform our lives to His commandments or to walk the narrow path that Christ forged for us. We are too busy for all that, we say, and it’s inconvenient.

I say let us be free of these temptations. For us in America, the struggle is far different than it is for our kin in other parts of the world, but it is a struggle all the same.

So, how do we accomplish this? Invest less in yourself, and more in others. It’s what we’re called to do. Whenever we’re sucked into our phones, or a TV, or whatever latest story our media is spinning, there’s no fruit being produced. We’re absorbed in our own little world.

Invest in whatever bears fruit. Once you think about it, it’s easy to see what does and what doesn’t. Live selflessly, love others, give, be compassionate—all without any thought of reward or compensation, but keep in mind that this is not a check list. The bottom line is to pursue Jesus at all costs—only then can you be truly free. 

Source: Walsh, Matt. (2018, January 18). Christians In The East Lose Their Lives, While Christians In The West Are Losing Their Souls. Retrieved from https://www.dailywire.com/news/26059/persecuted-christians-matt-walsh

Working for the Lord

By Robert Ables

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

—Colossians 3:23-24

Through the years of volunteering and now working full time with WFR Relief Ministries (now part of One Kingdom), I have been blessed to work with some of the best people in our Lord’s church. One of those is Mark Robbins.

I first met this good man a couple of years after Hurricane Katrina. He was in Bayou La Batre, Alabama helping in long term recovery. Mark has a past that included addiction, but God rescued him from that. His work is his gift of thanksgiving back to the Savior. So, he gives it his all.

Mark works a regular job between disaster events, so that he has money and time available when each disaster strikes. Every time we have contacted him with a need, he is ready and willing to go. He has helped internationally in Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and the Philippines.

He was in Union Beach, New Jersey after Super Storm Sandy intending to stay a couple of weeks, but it turned into six months. From there, Mark went directly to help after the terrible tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. He has worked most recently on long-term recovery projects in Monroe, Louisiana and West Virginia after widespread flooding. He once asked me if another coat of paint was needed. I told him it was good enough. He said “I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing this for God.” So he painted it with another coat. Like the verse in Colossians says, he works for the Lord.

Mark, like so many that volunteer throughout this world, realizes that the thing people need most when disaster strikes is hope. As 2 Corinthians 1:3-4  says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

When God’s people show up after a disaster with chain saws, water, food, or whatever is needed, what they really are doing is offering hope. Once, I was watching the news a few hours after a tornado had destroyed and claimed several lives. The news anchors reported that the local churches had responded already. It has been my experience that they always do, without having to wait for bureaucracy. 

Mark Robbins is a unique man with a clear sense of purpose. He is just one of many, though. God has blessed us as a people with an abundance and it is our mandate to give back.

One Kingdom, as an umbrella organization for World Radio and WFR Relief, has been blessed to facilitate the giving from so many through the years. By doing this, we can share in the hope and love of God in the most desperate of times throughout the world.

Many times our staff is not able to quickly get to a location in urgent need. But, because of our past connections with speakers with World Radio, we are able to connect with men and women who can go and help. Just recently, we have been able to help with the recent drought in Kenya through Charles Cheruiyot (one of our ambassadors). We were also able to help after an earthquake in Nepal, with the help of Asee and Sanjay Darla from India. These are just a couple of examples of how the these ministries have worked together throughout the years.

Mark’s example to me and others is that he works not for his own comfort, but to be able to give to others. Ephesians 4: 28 says, “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”

Thank you to our Brothers and Sisters everywhere for going and giving. In Jesus’s name!

Ginna's Story

By Ryan Lee

The story of how a World Radio broadcast brought one Colombian woman to Christ.

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After Ginna put her kids to bed each night, it was her time. She spent most of it crying. She felt many emotions: anger, sadness, frustration. But mostly she felt rejected. She felt alone. While her 2-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter peacefully slept in their beds, Ginna was beset with the realization that she was now a single mother. She was on her own, by herself…alone.

Her husband had been tangled up in an affair, and (after divorcing Ginna) married his mistress. He started a new family, abandoning Ginna and their 2 children. Not only did she feel rejected by her ex-husband, but because she was now a divorced woman, she felt rejected by her family and her community as well. How could her life possibly continue? 

It was 2011, and Ginna was working in a law office in Bucaramanga, Colombia. Her friends and co-workers told her she needed to seek God. She didn’t quite understand what this meant. “Where is He? How can I find Him?” she pondered. So at night, after she put the kids to bed and after she composed herself, she began reading the Bible. Not sure even how to do it, she started reading Scriptures. In no particular order, Ginna just opened up to any chapter, any verse, and started studying.

Eventually, she came to know who this man Jesus was. Captivated by the fact that he would leave his throne to become like us, she fell in love with him. Why would he become human when humanity was so complicated? When everyone around her was rejecting her, Jesus accepted Ginna and loved her unconditionally. She was amazed and perplexed by his love all at the same time.

Soon after, during her study, she read the story of the Ethiopian eunuch. The eunuch asked the question “What prevents me from being baptized?” That question started to rattle around in Ginna’s mind. At the time, she wasn’t going to church, but some of her co-workers were religious, and she started asking them about baptism. Ginna sought counsel from her co-workers, she went to several different churches, and she talked to her family and friends. However, the advice she received was conflicting, and she never received a straight answer.  Nobody could tell her why she had this deep longing to be baptized, and why it was or wasn’t important. 

One afternoon, as Ginna was driving in her car, she turned on the radio to listen to music. After skipping around a few stations, she landed on a World Radio broadcast, led by One Kingdom speaker Ricardo Torres. Ricardo and his guest that day were talking through Acts Chapter 8 and happened to be talking about the eunuch. Ginna almost had to pull the car over. They were talking about the eunuch’s decision to be baptized, and what it meant to be baptized. They discussed how some religions confused the idea of baptism and often promoted incorrect practices. Ginna felt as if they were telling her story over the radio. She got to her office and immediately called the radio station. 

Ricardo Torres preaches at a local church in Bucaramanga, where most of the members have come to know Christ through World Radio. He says that it often takes people several years to get engaged through the radio, but when they do, they buy in quickly. So the program gets a lot of ‘long-time listeners, first time callers.’ Ginna was quite the opposite: a first time listener, first time caller. This was actually quite shocking to Ricardo. As she called the program, she told him her story and said, “I want to be baptized.” 

Before the end of the day, Ricardo and his team were at Ginna’s office. They studied together for several days and a week later, Ginna was in the water being baptized. 

Before her baptism, Ginna’s story was one of questions: “Why am I alone? Who could love me? Why is this happening to me?” Now, her story is one of affirmation. Those trials were there for her to grow, mature and to find Jesus. She may have lost a lot of things along the way, but she gained a Savior and brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. Today, Ginna lives in Medellin, Colombia, is an active member in her church, and can’t wait to tell her story to anyone who will listen. Sometimes, after she puts the kids to bed, when it’s her time, she finds herself in tears. This time, however, they’re tears of joy.

An Interview with Daniel Setiabudi

Interview by Ryan Lee

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Daniel Setiabudi is a World Radio speaker for One Kingdom. He is based in Jakarta, Indonesia and has been preaching the Gospel via World Radio for 15 years. Daniel, along with his wife Naomi, leads a church out of his home and teaches English through studying the Bible. We caught up with Daniel recently so he could share a glimpse into his work and ministry in Indonesia.

What kind of role has the radio played in your work?
Since I began speaking with World Radio, hundreds of people (including most of our church members) have been baptized after first hearing the good news on the radio. Our church members have taken that knowledge and have been spreading the good news, bringing more people to our body. Some of them have come because they want to learn English. But they learned English through learning the Bible and that has prompted many questions about the Bible.

How does Indonesian law affect how you preach?
I have to be careful how I preach, because I cannot proselytize people. But, I can ask them about their background and ask them where they come from. Once they mention their religion, I can slowly approach them until they meet the truth of Jesus. It is very hard, but gaining close relationships first is the best way to go. I just really want to know a person’s story. This can open up a dialogue about religion once we get to know each other.

When I am talking to a Muslim, I want to know how dedicated they are to their faith. I talk to them and ask them questions about their faith—which often prompts new questions—bringing up thoughts they cannot explain. This opens a door to talk about Jesus. 

In the Koran, it says that Mohammed follows Abraham’s religion. Often I will ask a Muslim, “What is Abraham’s religion?” They cannot answer this, because Mohammed started Islam and Abraham lived long before. Then I can explain through Genesis who Abraham was and it pokes some holes in what they were taught. I am simply trying to reveal truth to them through the Bible, but without a relationship, this is not possible.

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What about your work with kids in Indonesia?
I realized that most members who become faithful in Christianity become faithful because they learn truth as a child. Parents have a great impact, but also working with children is a great ministry to start teaching truth at an early age. I also open up my home with my family to have children stay with us and treat them as my own children, showing them God’s love and grace. I decided long ago that my house should be used for the Lord’s service.

Why do you care so much about showing truth to Muslims?
The only way to have eternal life is Jesus, through the Gospel. I realize that. I have my own experience; I feel joy and peace through Christ. I feel God’s presence on a daily basis. In my life, I’ve experienced God in powerful ways and know He is there with me always. I want this for everyone. 

It seems like your church members have a very grateful heart.
I give examples of God’s love at every opportunity. I have been very generous with my brothers and sisters and in turn, they have shown grateful hearts and generosity to others. Christianity is not just theory to me, it is my life. And by living that way, it is the greatest teaching tool I have. People will follow leaders who are sold out for Christ. 

How do you see the church in Indonesia growing despite political pressure from the government?
We still have opportunity to spread the good news albeit through small holes. We need workers. Honest workers. There are so many challenges. We need prayer for strength to continue His work. Pray that we can spread the good news, not only in our area, but across Indonesia and every corner of the world.

Thanks so much for sharing with us!
Thank you.