Outreach International: A Beautiful Vision

29 07 2013

By Kevin Prine,
Outreach International

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.—1 John 3:17–18 NRSV

Outreach International add love to its formula for helping people out of poverty.

Outreach International add love to its formula for helping people out of poverty.

When I reflect on this portion of John’s letter to the early church at Ephesus, the prominence given to truth seems particularly compelling. John could have omitted the word, “truth” and simply stated, “let us love, not in word or speech, but in action.” We easily recognize the need for action as an expression of love. So why this emphasis on truth?

Outreach International’s 30 years of service provide a multitude of examples of truth in love. Consider our work in the Philippines. The hardworking Saints in the Philippines were the first to partner with Outreach International (OI). Had the church and founding leadership of OI been oriented solely on action, that partnership might have evolved into two or three continuously dependent congregations and nothing more.

Instead, a truth has been repeatedly illuminated during the last three decades. Namely, basic earthly needs cannot be achieved solely by a transfer of wealth from one person or group to another. Creating clean water systems, sanitation, adequate food, basic education, minimal health care, and economic livelihood for a community requires far more than handouts.

These human necessities spread and become permanent when beneficiaries can identify challenges and create their own solutions. In turn, a spiritual, communal, and emotional confidence is created when people work together to solve their problems.

Gifts with minimal thought may temporarily alleviate symptoms among the poor, but they often reinforce the chronic problem of poverty.

When I recently visited Outreach International field staff and communities in the Philippines, I saw areas where OI and the church were thriving. They didn’t need continued outside help to succeed. If anything, they were multiplying their resources to new areas.

Just as in other countries where OI works, the people seemed to enjoy our connection. But they appreciated it as a balanced relationship between peers rather than as a group of wealthy people and needy codependents. Isn’t this the beautiful vision of love between brothers and sisters in Christ that John spoke about?

Community of Christ seeks to follow the five Mission Initiatives, including Abolish Poverty, End Suffering. Words and speeches will accomplish little. Only a community infused with God’s love, expressing itself in actions—grounded in truth—will achieve this, one of humanity’s greatest callings.




3 responses

7 08 2013
Joel Ross

Great comments and insights into that scripture, Kevin! I was blessed to visit Simimbaan, Philippines in 1978 when OI had one of the first projects there gaining momentum. It’s truly impressive to know what residents there and around that nation have done since then to end much poverty! .

30 07 2013
William RAISER

Great article, Kevin. Outreach does good work. This is the Restoration in action.

7 08 2013
Joel Ross

Hi Wil, thanks for being my teacher at Graceland back in 1977 or 78, about the time I went to the Philippines.

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