Recently, we’ve taken some time to consider the topic of identity and how it can be affected by many things such as stereotypes as covered in our interview with Mission ONE Theologian-in-Residence, Jackson Wu.
Outside of a western look at identity, we’ve seen the impact of how we view ourselves and how others view us in the communities where we live. All over the world, Mission ONE works in areas where social systems of oppression, generational poverty, natural disasters, and lack of opportunity can plague someone’s identity and leave them without hope.
The concept of identity is widely discussed among Christian and secular circles alike, but as we consider identity as a whole, we must remember that identity has a larger impact on our families, generations to come, and our entire communities. How people view themselves becomes crucial in the effort to restore dignity, honor, and hope to entire people groups.
This art we see here is designed to take away the physical markers of beauty and allow us to see the beauty of the soul— reminding us of our identities in Christ and the image of God within. It’s a beautiful example of how we’re all held by God and how generational poverty and systems of oppression can rob us of our worth, dignity, and identity, but the restorative power of God prevails.
Mission ONE and our global partners work to transform communities across the world for the glory of God by providing creative solutions, training, and support to communities in need. When we’re able to empower one person, it can restore hope to their family and the outcome becomes a positive ripple effect that will impact future generations and entire communities will be transformed.
The Chepang People | Identity Outside the Caste System
In a remote village in Nepal, God has been at work through His church, bringing hope to one of the hardest places. The Chepang people—also known as “Cave People” due to making their homes in caves for shelter, have been homeless for generations. They exist at the bottom of the caste system, which still dominates the social fabric in Nepal.
With this low-caste status, Bishnu, a young Chepang adult in his mid-twenties had been unable to get a job other than in the sanitation or manual labor fields. Jobs which were located at far distances requiring him to commute.
Like many others in his village, Bishnu struggled to make ends meet for most of his life. But, once he came to faith things changed. He felt convicted to care for his community and continued to press into a deeper calling for ministry regardless of the obstacles presented to him. It was knowing that God still had better plans for him and his entire community that empowered Bishnu.
Today, through his hard work and Mission ONE’s ministry, Bishnu is thriving in his God-given calling and pursuing a new beginning. After being mentored and taught by Mission ONE partners in Nepal, Bishnu is now pastoring the main church in the community, impacting many lives. He has also started Bible college and a three-year pastoral training program.
The insignificant identity that the government placed on him is no longer relevant and he can see his true value.
The Pig Project | Identity Outside of Poverty
In Kenya, there are communities like Kijabe Town, where people are living in extreme poverty and whose skills and resources are often overlooked. Unable to see a way to provide for their families and break the cycle of poverty, their identity can be lost to the extreme circumstances they face each day.
Mission ONE partners with organizations that have a deeper understanding of the unique needs and resources of communities like Kijabe Town because they also live there. This allows us to walk alongside them and co-create opportunities that bring hope back and empower entire communities.
When we understood the unique needs, resources, and opportunities that already existed around Kijabe Town, our partners were able to identify a natural fit and determine where the community could fill an existing need. They found that pig farming was the perfect solution.
John and Daniel are both employed full-time by the pig project but, before that, they were unable to provide for their families because they did not have the luxury of attending school which meant they had no job opportunities.
Wilfred, our partner in Kenya, wanted to help John and Daniel. They lived a life of stealing and getting in fights just to provide for their wives and children. But now that Wilfred was able to give them both jobs, they are able to support their families and be an example to their kids to live a life of dignity.
This has restored their identities and brings honor to them and their families. Their future has been rewritten and they can clearly see their value and identity in Christ.
Syrian Repatriation | Identity Outside of Loss
The people of Syria have faced poverty, homelessness, and struggle trying to survive in areas that are not their country of origin. Since the year 2011, more that 5.6 million refugees fled Syria in the wake of one of the most brutal, destructive wars in modern history and dispersed throughout the entire neighboring region.
Mission ONE partners are assisting refugees in every area of need as a part of their repatriation initiative. This initiative is a holistic plan that combines a practical and sustainable way for refugees to begin rebuilding a home and developing income-generating projects, as well as taking on the immense amount of prayer needed after living through such a time.
Badar, his wife and two children fled Syria during this time and lost everything. They sought refuge in Wadi al-Nasara, an area in western Syria close to the Lebanese border. With no job or resources, Badar struggled to provide for his family. They lived in extreme poverty and lacked access to basic necessities such as food and water. Health complications followed and Badar ultimately lost his kidney. Unfortunately, when our partners visited Badar and his family they saw that they were on the verge of starvation and about to lose the roof over their heads.
Because of your support and that of our patrons, our partners on the ground were able to provide Badar’s family with the supplies and food they desperately needed and even worked with their landlord to exempt Badar from rental fees for six months.
During this outpouring of support, Badar, his wife and children, all saw how the Lord provided during their darkest hour. They now live with the love of Christ in their lives and have hope for a brighter future not only for their family, but for generations to come.
They see themselves as loved, worthy, and valued outside of their circumstances.
As we see in this second piece of art, those same physical markers have been removed so that we can focus on the internal. We are all created in the image of God, therefore His love lies within us.
It’s the ripple effect of big and small actions like the stories we shared, that truly show the power of the love of Christ and bring honor back to God’s people for His glory.
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3 Ways to Honor God on Your Next Mission Trip
We're sharing three things you should consider before you organize or participate in an international mission trip, seek to do work in the multicultural neighborhood in your own city, or embark on any cross-cultural partnership.