In the beginning, a prophetic word
|On the surface it would seem foolish, launching our annual Christmas appeal in the midst of global turmoil.Every year, RM has held a Christmas Appeal with our partner Pathways from Poverty, raising money across the breadth of the Relational Mission family of churches for different projects. Despite the incredible financial pressures that COVID had caused worldwide, both the timing and the idea were God’s. Mike Betts shares more about the incredible circumstances that gave birth to our ‘Hope for Broken Communities’ appeal.|
IN THE BEGINNING…PROPHETIC SEEDS“Don’t be afraid when the strategy doesn’t make sense on paper.”One prophetic word has strongly shaped the vision and direction of Relational Mission. In 2013, Julian Adams prophesied that RM would be involved in the rebuilding of devastated communities: redeeming communities that were post-war, post-devastation, post-collapse of various kinds and struggling to recover. Yet RM’s involvement would not be centred solely around planting churches, but would see the physical rebuilding of infrastructure; of healthcare and educational systems, and would involved partnerships with business men and women from around the world.“That word went very deeply into my heart,” Mike recalls.Yet it was only the beginning.A few years later, he had another powerful moment during a trip to Kenya. “God said, ‘Look at your hands’. And as I looked at my hands I felt Him say, ‘Through these hands are going to flow millions of pounds to touch the lives of millions of people.’ And I don’t think it was a word for me personally, but it was like I was representative of RM – [it was through] OUR hands, as it were.”With these two words, as well as many others, the direction for Relational Mission as a whole was taking shape. They were also influencing the scope of our Christmas appeals. “Plus,” Mike adds, “a number of doors had begun to open in different places where this has become a possibility.”A dream come true: Lucy, from our 2019 appeal
PLANTING THE WORD
Many of these ‘doors’ came through RM’s connection with Edward Buria, an apostolic leader in Kenya, and in the years that followed, RM saw the first fruits of these prophetic words realised through our partnership with Edward and his wife Frida.Several appeals helped start businesses and rebuild local communities in Kenya that had faced many challenges. Our 2019 appeal is one example: we launched ‘Water for Lucy’ and raised over £60,000/€69,000. This was enough to fund the digging of not just one, but two, boreholes that have transformed numerous communities in the local area.Not only that, previous appeals have funded new schools and community centres, launched businesses and invested in community initiatives not only in Kenya but throughout the globe – in India, Ghana, Serbia and the UK (which you can learn more about here)!But it was two recent developments that had a major impact on the direction of our 2020 appeal.
The first was a connection Relational Mission made with church leaders in the Middle East, who approached us with a business idea that could transform the community in their war-torn nation: a bakery. The second development was the growing emergence of business leaders within the RM family who have a vision to see churches and business men and women working together to pursue our vision to be globally fruitful, planting churches in every nation around the world.The opportunity to help launch a bakery was one step on the path to our seed fund appeal.The Middle Eastern bakery project, together with this passionate group of business people gathering under the banner RM Business Link, became the precursor to a much larger vision to help rebuild broken communities through local businesses. As the world reeled under the effects of COVID, the idea for the upcoming appeal began to take shape. For Mike, the global pandemic was a signal to pursue the prophetic word even more intentionally: “With the outbreak of COVID and the global devastation that this is bringing, it seemed the right time to ramp up our attempts to focus on rebuilding devastated communities.”But why a seed fund in particular? Mike answers, “[It was] a mixture of the prophetic and then the ‘providential’, as it were: the prophetic, together with the providence of connections God was giving us and the people we’ve got amongst us to help, and the brokenness of the world… that’s really what got me thinking about having an offering that was a seed fund.”It didn’t take long for the Business Link team to get on board. “We’ve been discussing things like how can planting ‘business’ alongside planting churches work in the future… [and] a growth in the Business Link profile, a growth in the team, plus the opportunity to begin to help rebuild devastated communities and begin to ramp up church planting with business attached, all these things have begun to come together at ‘such a time’.”
A FAMILY ON MISSION
We long to see long-term and effective transformation in places like Beirut – a community still rebuilding following an explosion in August 2020.Previous appeals have focused on a specific project or beneficiary. This time, we partnered with Business Link and Pathways from Poverty for a Christmas Appeal that asked individuals and churches to invest in a much broader vision: to ‘bring hope to broken communities’.Such an undefined scope would make some fundraisers nervous, but the ensuing response demonstrated to Mike that this vision reflected a longing in the RM family for long-term solutions to the devastation around us: “People [are] feeling this deeply, personally; they’re feeling ‘we want to make a difference’. They’re feeling the needs around them in COVID and they’re seeing that building infrastructure, not just giving aid, has got to be the long-term sustainable way of coming out of this – helping people get jobs, helping people make money and be able to LIVE.”
FAITH-FILLED INVESTMENTIt shows just how deeply that seed of a word has been planted into the heart of our family of churches; that we are convinced that flourishing Christian-owned businesses in broken communities will lead to economical and gospel impact for hundreds and thousands of people in the years to come. In a very concrete way, it showed that we want to be ready to invest into businesses and enterprising Christian leaders who we believe, in faith, will cross our paths in the future.
FIELDS OF DREAMSMike sees the seed fund as central to the future application of that early prophecy. “I’d encourage that we’d keep topping [the seed fund] up, because I think it’s a great way for us to keep an engine of finance for church planting and rebuilding broken communities where there’s devastation, where there’s a need for healthcare or education or wealth creation, business, housing… We can utilise the skills of so many people within RM to help rebuild devastated communities which is just as much a part of bringing the impact of the gospel as planting a church or running an Alpha course or things like that.”But Mike, if there’s anything that RM would be known for it’s our vision to see churches planted throughout the world. Some would suggest that planting a church is of the greatest benefit to a broken community, and that other avenues of aid or development should be taken care of by other organisations.Food banks and debt centres are just two of the many ways in which churches across Relational Mission are bringing both short- and long-term transformation to those in their local communities.In response, Mike recalls Galatians 6:10, ‘As we have opportunity let us do good to ALL, especially to the household of faith’. “We want to bless every community, everyone in that community, as we have opportunity, where God leads us, but ‘especially a blessing to the household of faith’, to God’s people in that situation where we’re planting, and I think that’s [within] the scope on the radar at the moment.” And he’s quick to remind us that the seed fund was God’s idea to begin with, so we can trust Him with the greater plan. “And we’ll see where God leads us! I believe it’s by faith we took the offering, it’s by faith he’ll show us where to work.”
So does our planting vision align with this vision for community-transforming businesses? Mike gives a resounding ‘yes’. “If we plant the number of churches we’re aiming to plant, it’s not going to be possible for them all to be financed by sending churches, or groups of sending churches, or a central funds, or anything like that. And many people will need to take with them skills that that they can turn to business to earn money whilst they plant churches. In this way we can accelerate church planting vastly. Learning how to build a good business with the expertise, the coaching, the support and encouragement [of our business leaders] and a little bit of startup funds to help businesses get going is the dream, and I think that’s where RM Business Link can really help as we plant churches in lots of different places.”
STEPS OF FAITH, STEPS OF WISDOM
The possibilities of the seed fund are hugely exciting, but there’s plenty of space for applying wisdom as RM begins to explore the ways it can be utilised. “We will begin slowly. We will do a few projects that can demonstrate what a difference it’s made. We can then build on that over time.” With the help of Business Link’s expertise, we want to invest the funds in ways that are effective and long-lasting. “We don’t want to be in too much of a rush. We just want to make sure that we look wisely and build well and take on a few things at a time, that we can then demonstrate and learn from. I think this is going to be a part of our ongoing, long-term strategies, so therefore we need to get this right, and learn, in these early days. ”
This most recent appeal saw Relational Mission raise more money than any held previously. Our hope was to create a seed fund of £40,000 (€44,000). We launched in November 2020 and a month later, we were already halfway to our goal. After two months had passed we had exceeded our target; by the end of the third month we had nearly doubled our goal!The total continued to climb. As our appeal came to a close at the end of February, four months since the launch, we announced an amount that had exceeded our expectations:
GRAND TOTAL£101,118 (118,254€)*A last note from Mike: “Just to say a massive thank you to everyone who’s given into this. It is far in abundance of all we asked or imagined, which is what God says he’ll do, and I think it shows that we’ve tapped into the heart of people.”A huge thank you to all who joined your hearts with ours to this vision. We cannot wait to share how God chooses to use your faithfulness to transform broken communities worldwide.
*Updated 25 March 2021 to reflect Gift Aid contributions and additional gifts.
This entry was posted by andymoyle on Sunday, May 16th, 2021 at 2:25 pm and is filed under Uncategorised.