Saturday, June 6, 2020

Unintended Consequences

Unintended consequences can be good or bad.  We often hear more about the bad than the good.  Too often, in giving things to help people, the unintended consequence can be dependency.

But this week, I saw two aspects of unintended consequences that were actually good!

The first includes many of you!  Over the last three months, DML was able to raise nearly $90,000 for COVID-19 relief efforts in Africa, thanks to you and your generosity!  But because we, and our partners, are so cautious about relief causing damage, we discussed how to give in a way that was affirming.  We also discussed how to work through our spheres of influence, allowing us to partner with other leaders from other organizations, including government officials.

The stories that we heard back showed us some unintended consequences as our partners applied out-of-the-box thinking and planning:
  • Some gave funds to church pastors and encouraged them to look beyond their members and see their community as their parish and help nonchurch members.  This was a great surprise and testimony to the witness of the church in those areas!  It also communicated a release of control from DML to the churches to trust them to do the right thing.
  • Some helped unreached people, predominantly Muslims, in communities where there is significant poverty.  As a result, they were able to witness and pray with people as they distributed the food.
  • Some approached the local governments to ask how they could help  people stay safe.  This was unprecedented as most people make demands of the government, not offer to help!  They found open doors and new relationships formed.
  • Some approached businesses, offering help to produce more products that keep people safe: from handwashing stations, to soap, to masks, to sanitizers, and so on.
  • Some planted farms for widows, and others gave goats with the promise that the firstborn goat would be given away to help others.
I could go on and on.  This week I heard partner after partner sharing that God is expanding their sphere of influence.  People tell them that the ministry of DML has gone deeper, moving from theory to practice (i.e. living out the church scattered, the quadruple bottom line, etc).  

That was not what we intended - our goal was to help people stay safe from COVID-19 - but our God is able to bring about good in ways that are unintended!

The second unintended consequence has to do with being grounded in the US because of COVID-19 and finding some unexpected open doors to work with a global organization doing discipleship and church planting.  How does that work, you may wonder?  There are many organizations who work to plant churches throughout the world.  Often those church planters are expected to do some sort of business to raise their own support.  We have been encouraging these organizations (through the Global Alliance for Church Multiplication - GACX) to go a step further and plant churches that address the whole person, equipping people to do business as an act of worship and to the glory of God.  More doors are opening for DML - one in Germany, one in North Caroline primarily working in Asia, one in Texas who works around the world, and a ministry that has opened 52 village schools and two colleges in East Africa.  We did not find them, they found us.  Who would have thought of this connection?  

Only God.

We are thankful for these unintended consequences.  Join us in praying for wisdom, that God would show us each step of the way, as we seek His directions for such a time as this!