‘The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated, they will renew the ruined cities’ Isaiah 61:1, 3-4
From creation forward, God has a pattern of restoring broken people, and broken places. He establishes His kingdom by transforming the lives of His people, and then sending them into the rest of creation as agents of His restoration! As His agents, we are called to serve the ones God serves-bringing hope and healing both to people and to places. God cares that buildings are restored, neighborhoods rebuilt, gardens replanted...everything is to be reclaimed and made beautiful for His kingdom!!
This is why Southwood has chosen to call our ministry efforts, both locally and globally, ‘Community Development.’ Grace-based, developmental thinking means a holistic worldview that sees both spiritual and physical poverty as interconnected results of the Fall of Man. ‘Community development’ implies working to alleviate these effects of the fall both individually and systemically.
For example, we want to help John with his homework, but we also want to help John’s school function at a higher level. Simultaneously we want to come alongside John’s parents and encourage them to help him with his homework at home. And most importantly, we want John to learn about his loving, heavenly Father who created the math he is trying to learn in the first place.
Southwood is committed to EXPERIENCING AND EXPRESSING GRACE because we cannot share with others what we have not experienced ourselves. Developmental ministry is the natural outflow of lives which are being continually transformed by God’s grace. Our faith is not in our ability but rather in God’s promise to guide us and His ability to change both us and those with whom we work.Local
Southwood’s commitment to expressing grace MUST begin in our local community. There are many on the front lines of poverty alleviation in Huntsville, and God is using them in wonderful ways. Our commitment to Community Development frees us from reinventing the wheel. Since our goal is to extend God’s kingdom, not Southwood’s, we can partner with many different organizations working to extend God’s kingdom in Huntsville. This is why are committed to equipping and encouraging our members for SCATTERED service! Remember, when you serve in your community, the church is serving because YOU ARE THE CHURCH.
We have chosen to ‘endorse’ particular ministries that are committed to long-term, community development. We have chosen the particular organizations on this list carefully based on a number of criteria. First, they each demonstrate GRACE-BASED, DEVELOPMENTAL PRINCIPLES in their mission, vision, and work. Secondly, they have ACCOUNTABILITY for their resources. Thirdly, they have WELL STRUCTURED AVENUES TO UTILIZE VOLUNTEERS--meaning that your time serving will be well used. Please note that this is NOT an exhaustive list of all ministries!! These are, however, ministries committed to holistic change in our community brought about through long term relationships both with individuals and communities in Huntsville.
We encourage you to consider these different organizations. Then pray-ask God what gifts and skills He has given you, specifically, and how He would have you use those for His glory and the extension of His kingdom. Then GO!Global
God’s call on the Christian Church extends beyond our own communities and into the entire world. One of the challenges we face, as Western Christians, is to take the gospel into these communities without bringing with it our cultural expectations about dress, worship style, or standard of living. Often it is easier to practice developmental principles in our own communities, but difficult when overseas. As a church, we want to ensure we are working toward grace-based, community development both in our own community and abroad.
We have the privilege of partnering with missionaries whom God has called full time to the field. These friends have often left their own cultures, families, and comfort behind for the sake of the gospel. Others are indigenous people whom God is raising up to witness to their own communities. We are called as believers both individually and corporately to support the works of God’s kingdom throughout the world. Please take a moment to read over our list of ministry partners. Pray for them, and for the work that God is doing in and through them for His kingdom. Your family or small group can adopt a missionary family--praying particularly for them and committing to encourage them through emails, letters, or care-packages.