When Jesus walked the Earth and began his ministry, it was very tangible. He laid hands on people; some were blind or crippled, and others faced physical challenges including death. Most of the people who came to Jesus, did so because they had a physical need.
And in the midst of praying for healing, Jesus never stopped his mission of preaching about the coming kingdom of Heaven, or eternity with God.
I don’t think we are too different from the same being true today. People, especially the poor, want healing and to be released from physical suffering from hunger or disease, but they also want to know about how to have a relationship with God.
When my father first began his ministry in the 1950s, he was focused on evangelism and discipleship. At Bright Hope, we now call this focus, “Hope for Eternity.”
But when working with the poor, he couldn’t ignore the massive physical needs they had. In Haiti, it is said, “hungry bellies have no ears,” meaning that if a hungry person doesn’t have food to eat, they might struggle to listen and consider the Gospel message. This type of physical aid is something we call, “Hope for Today.”
Things really clicked into place in the 90s as Bright Hope added a focus on “Hope for Tomorrow” which helps those living in poverty to earn a livable wage and lift themselves out of poverty.
As we have blended these focuses and disciplines into a program philosophy we now call “Hope for Today, Tomorrow and Eternity,” we have witnessed the great power of combining all three.
I will never forget the Bosnian woman who came up to me while I was visiting a church where we were helping provide food, jobs and the Gospel to war refugees. She was telling me how the church was ministering so well and sacrificially…how not only her nutritional needs were met, but she had hope of starting a new life and finding a permanent job. This woman wasn’t yet a believer in Christ, but described the church ministry as, “…a Spring that has come into my soul.”
Holistic ministry, caring for the needs of the whole person, is what Bright Hope focuses on now. We deliver all our help through a strategy of Hope for Today, Tomorrow and Eternity. And it is working- producing amazing fruit in city slums and remote villages around the world.