While it is not necessary to explain the meaning of the word “towards”, it must be noted that, in the context of this study, it implies the movement that is contained in the “action – reflection – action” movement of the pastoral cycle.
The study focuses on the individual, and on helping individual destitute people to change, grow, develop and experience greater degrees of SHALOM. The word “towards” communicate this intentionality in our efforts at missions with the destitute.
Empowerment with aim is like hitting out in the dark. Biblically, and from a Christian viewpoint, the aim of empowerment must be SHALOM. As a word, SHALOM is loaded with rich meaning, and it incorporates terms such as liberation, wellbeing, salvation, completeness, whole-being and others.
SHALOM (šlôm) is the Old Testament word for completeness, soundness and well-being (New Bible Dictionary 1996:956). In the words of Hoekendjik (1966:107):
It is used to indicate all aspects of the restored and cured human condition: righteousness, truth, fellowship, communication, peace, and so forth (cf Ps 85). Shalom is the briefest and, at the same time, the fullest summary of all the gifts of the messianic era: even the name of the Messiah can simply be: shalom (Micah 5:3; Eph 2:4); the gospel is a gospel of SHALOM (Eph 6:15) and the God proclaimed in this gospel can often be called the God of SHALOM.
In Hoekendjik’s understanding (1966:107) SHALOM is more than intra-personal peace of mind (although it includes this aspect). It is not something that the “haves” can dish out to the “have nots”. It is a social happening, an event in inter-human relations, a venture of co-humanity. It cannot be reduced to a simple formula. It must be found and worked out in actual situations, in cooperation with those for whom SHALOM is destined.
Regarding SHALOM and the poor, the remarks of Botha (1994:118 – 120) are particularly important.
At the Melbourne conference of the CWME in 1980, this comprehensive understanding of liberation on earth was taken even further as it focused on the poor of the world. The poor were put at the very centre of missiological thinking. It was among the poor that the Kingdom of God has to come and liberation has to be realised (:118-120).
Lastly, in connection with the term “empowerment”, we must take into consideration the fact that empowered people will also, simultaneously, be transformed.
8Introduction to thesis
I divide the thesis both indirectly (into the four major movements of the Praxis cycle), and directly (into different chapters).
The Praxis cycle comprises:
journey with destitute people, which urged me to greater involvement in the problem of destitution. The chapter then continues to explore the theme “Empowering destitute people – a contextual missiological study”, while simultaneously posing the aim of the study.
My journey with destitute people – becoming aware…
The purpose of this study – some personal thoughts
Posing the problem
Method of research
Terminology – a closer look at the theme
Introduction to thesis
Chapter 2 – Why are people destitute?
This chapter suggests that the reasons for destitution can be divided into internal and external factors contributing to destitution, where these factors work together like the two sides of a coin, dynamically interacting.
Exploring causes for destitution
Making sense of the different viewpoints and theories about the causes of destitution
Exploring the “Inside-out”” issues
Exploring the “Outside-in” issues
Chapter 3 – Missions with the destitute
This chapter explores an approach that advocates missions with the destitute, as opposed to “mission to the destitute”. It explores different aspects of such missions. It anchors the aim of such missions in SHALOM and then calls for a public church that would practise such missions.
Missions with the destitute flow from the Missio Dei
Missions with the destitute require a public church
Planning for action
Chapter 4 – Towards understanding destitute people
This chapter explores the experiences of destitute people, in order to facilitate a better understanding of their problems. It then advocates an approach to missions with the destitute that would see and treat destitute people as people with dignity, needs, strengths and feelings, as well as experiences of God. It then advocates the use of what destitute people already possess in order to empower them.
The destitute are people with strengths and assets
The destitute are people trying to protect their own fragile dignity
The destitute are people experiencing God
Chapter 5 – Towards a model of missions with the destitute
This chapter serves to furnish perspectives and guidelines for “helpers” engaging the destitute, by developing a model of missions with the latter.
Why a model?
Underlying principles for a model of missions with the destitute
Chapter 6 – Missions with the destitute from the inside-out
This chapter investigates ways to empower destitute people on the inside, so that they would be better able to face external challenges, or to grow to SHALOM. The focus falls strongly on internal empowerment, with the understanding that this kind of empowerment works from the “inside-out” to address issues of destitution.
“Inside-out” missions as the fostering of social ties
“Inside-out” missions as outreach and engagement
“Inside-out” missions that empower people to become self-motivated to change
“Inside-out” missions as the healing of people’s inner pictures
“Inside-out” missions as the development of new beliefs
“Inside-out” missions as “giving voice” to individual destitute people
Fostering helpers’ competencies in order to promote empowering “inside-out” missions
Chapter 7 – Missions with the destitute from the “outside-in”
This chapter considers strategies and interventions that would empower destitute people by creating an external environment or situation that would enable them to grow, change, develop and become whole, as they choose to. The focus is strongly on external empowerment. Two kinds of “outside–in” approaches to mission with the destitute are explored, namely (1) community development approaches to “outside–in” missions, and (2) clinical services approaches to “outside–in” missions (including social welfare).
Some principles for missions from the “outside-in”
“Outside-in” missions as the provision of social services
“Outside –in” missions as reconnecting people to employment
“Outside-in” missions as the empowerment of communities
Chapter 8 – The way forward
This chapter draws together the insights from the previous chapters, and applies them to the model developed in chapter 5, in order to give direction to efforts at missions with the destitute.