When Jesus had finished His work in this world, He left us with these orders, “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).  We call those words “The Great Commission.”  But Jesus also gave us other commandments while He was here too.  Once while being questioned about this He was asked, “What is the greatest commandment”?  Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).  So then, those of us who follow Jesus, those who make up His church, our orders are simple.  We are to both make share the good news of the gospel, but also to love others as Jesus loved them.

To accomplish this Y-Malawi has partnered with our friends at World Relief to create a Church Empowerment Zone.  The zone is the centerpiece of the work taking place in Malawi.  It is composed of almost 70 small village churches or all denominations.  Their differences in doctrine don’t exist when they come together.  Instead, they are working as one to carry out the commands Jesus gave us.  They are coming together for training, but so much more.  They are doing door to door evangelism, worship and Sunday Schools, but that’s only the beginning.

These churches in the Church Empowerment Zone are reaching out to their communities just like Jesus did.  Working together, they are helping those who are hungry.  They are loving people who are sometimes forgotten, like the sick and disabled.  They are teaching Biblical principles for marriage and parenting.  Even working to improve their communities by building things like latrines and fixing roads.  World Relief has seen the impact, “Working with the local church is not only a good strategy, it’s at the very heart of our work.  We believe that God gave us a plan to save our broken world, and that it begins with his church, and his people leading the way.  We want to see local churches creating and leading change in their communities.”

Is it working?  The answer is clearly yes!  Churches are growing as they share with their communities.  Many have come to know Jesus, even those who follow other religions have noticed.  When people see the church reaching out to love as Jesus did, they can’t help but notice.  Then they want to know why.  This provides a perfect platform to share the gospel message.  We are loving others because Jesus first loved us.  It is really that simple.

The Apostle James was responsible for establishing one of the most important early churches.  In James 2:14 – 17 he gave this direction. “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you say to him, “Go, I wish you well: keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

In this new Biblical model God is on the move.  People are coming to know Jesus, and entire communities are changing.  God’s plan works.  We can change lives, we can change the world, and the church should be right in the center of all of it.

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