Kate Sharma, writing in the Guardian, believes that the church is one the best vehicles for human and societal development.
Globally, there are millions of Christians who form part of the worldwide Church. Even China Petro-Chemical, the largest corporation in the world with a labour force of around 1,190,000 employees, is still at least a thousand times smaller than this global movement. In development terms, what is exciting is that this global body has local churches in virtually every nation made up of individuals who meet regularly for worship and to encourage each other to live out their faith. A major aspect of the Christian faith is serving the community and through these individual churches there is the capacity to mobilise millions of volunteers who come with diverse expertise and have an intimate knowledge of their communities.
Ed Green, Harvard medical anthropologist, is one of the many development professionals who understands the potential of well-managed church partnerships. “Churches are respected within communities and most have existing resources, structures and systems upon which to build,” he writes of the church in east Africa in his report on faith-based organisations contributing to HIV prevention. “They possess the human, physical, technical and financial resources needed to support and implement small and large-scale initiatives. They can undertake these actions in a very cost-effective manner, due to their ability to leverage volunteer and other resources with minimal effort.”
Compassion currently partners with more than 5,600 churches to help communities support their most vulnerable children. More than 1.4 million children currently attend church-based programmes run in partnership with Compassion. Our choice to partner exclusively with churches does limit our reach, it must be said, as there are some areas where there is no church and others where persecution of Christians makes it too dangerous to work.