Mention Christian ministries to most people, and they likely will have a very stereotypical view of what they actually do. While a Christian ministry’s main objective is to provide an understandable and easily embraced message of Christ’s love, how they achieve that has subtly changed over the years.
Taking a modern approach
One of the key approaches taken by modern Christian ministries is to work with the community, rather than trying to force an alien concept upon it. Resistance to new ideas, a lack of understanding, and potential division between cultures in different parts of the world are some of the reasons why a more gentle approach is needed. Rather than trying to force God’s message of hope and love, ministries must show people how to incorporate that message into their lives without giving up their own cultural identity. Christian ministries must teach that God’s love transcends boundaries and embraces everyone. By introducing this concept in a way that does not force people to choose between their traditional way of life and beliefs, but rather demonstrates how God is present in all of us, ministries can bring the teachings of Jesus Christ to a wider audience.
In addition to sharing a spiritual message, Christian ministries also bring practical help. Through education programs, health care and working with aid organizations, Christian ministries are playing a major role in the developing world. Many Christian ministries in areas like sub-Saharan Africa have been established a lot longer than some aid organizations, so they have «on the ground» knowledge of the culture, societal structure and day-to-day realities of life in some of the most remote parts of the world. This knowledge is vital if aid and support is to reach those who most need it, particularly children in poverty.
The 10/40 Window
Many Christian ministries are now focusing on the «10/40 Window,» a band of countries between 10 and 40 degrees north latitude that includes large areas of Western Africa to Asia. The term was coined by Christian missions strategist Louis Bush at the 1989 missionary conference, Lausanne II, in Manila, the Philippines. It is also sometimes referred to as the «Resistant Belt» and comprises 35 percent of the world’s land mass and 90 percent of the world’s poorest populations. Most important for Christian ministries, many of those living in the 10/40 Window are unaware of the Christian message. By focusing on this region, Christian ministries are performing a twofold service by bringing Christ’s message of love to an area that has yet to experience it, as well as working on the ground to bring practical help to some of the poorest people in the world.
But Christian ministries are hard at work in more than just developing countries. In the United States, Christian ministries provide a focal point for communities that may have lost their structure through poverty, crime or a combination of the two. Ministries work hard to re-empower the powerless, the poor and those most in need, giving them a sense of community and belonging, as well as showing them that Christ still has an important role to play in modern society. All of this is vital work if we are to make the 21st century one that is beneficial to everyone, regardless of location or race.