Tangible Transformation

Our vision is to see the poor and their communities transformed by the power of Christ.....

This sounds really great, but what does "transformation" actually look like?

Transformation can be described as restoring broken relationships: relationship with God, with our self, with others, and with creation.

Relationships in these four key areas underlie our human experience. Are they strong and vibrant, as God intends? What degree of brokenness exists in each area? Using this framework helps us to understand poverty, and the journey to wholeness and fullness of life that God wishes for us (John 10:10).

poverty-model-imageWe are indebted to Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, who describe this biblical holistic framework in their book When Helping Hurts.

Within Servants we yearn to see these relationships healed and reconciled (both in ourselves, and our neighbors), and we recognize that we have an active part to play.

In the section below, we hope to highlight these areas of transformation, and provide some concrete examples of how we’re participating with Jesus to see healing and restoration.  It should be noted that all the projects aim to integrate all areas, but are separated to emphasize a certain aspect of transformation.  After all, wholism is one of our core principles, so all the programs exist simply as doorways to wholistic transformation of real people.

Relationship with God

cambodia-002We are created to be in deepening relationship with God as revealed in Jesus. When this is happening, we grow in our understanding of who God is, what God is like, and how God sees us and calls us. God heals us, forgives us, corrects our untruths, and invites us to join God’s dance of creation, redemption, and sustaining life.

Underlying brokenness here might ultimately sound like: (for those suffering) “God has forgotten me”, or “God has judged me worthless”; or (for the rich) “God is irrelevant”, or “God has ordained the status quo (with me as beneficiary)”. Transformation in this area helps us to face suffering, make difficult choices for good, increase in compassion, and find a sense of purpose.

Examples within Servants where we are working towards transformation in this area:

--Living Springs Church Network:  Servants Manila was instrumental in establishing the "Living Springs" network - made up of seven churches in different communities. These small churches in slum areas not only provide a spiritual home but often function as change agents in their neighborhoods in practical ways. One example is pre-school education for children living in slums, done in the church buildings with teachers from the churches.

--Contextualized worship:  We need to have culturally relevant ways for people to engage in as we worship Jesus together.  Our teams in India have pioneered what this could look like.  To find out more about what this means, and why it's important, watch The Kingdom Tree video.

--Creating Children's books:  David, who worked in India has a passion for communicating God's character through story.  Click hear to hear more about his "Is God Nice?"  initiative, and read more about his projects here.

--Servants prayer litanies:  All of our field teams contributed to create a collection of prayers.  These are designed to draw us closer to God, and remind us of God's heart for our neighbors and our neighborhoods.

--Contextualized Bible Series:  Created in 2004, this Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation wove together Cambodian proverbs & folk-stories, plus art-work by a local artist. Roughly 2,000 copies were printed & distributed over the years.

--What the Hell Bible Studies: During the summer of 2009, a former Servants intern initiated a unique "Bible study" while planting trees in northern Canada.

Relationships with Ourselves

cambodia-008 We are created to have healthy relationships with ourselves.  Being designed in God’s image, we have inherent beauty, worth, and dignity. Self-respect means understanding and caring for the needs of our minds, spirits, and bodies.


Examples within Servants where we are working towards transformation in this area:

--Parhna Warhna: This program employs an affirming, learner-focused literacy program to help neighbors (mostly children) learn how to read.  Young men and women have been equipped to teach the program, serving others in their community as well as helping to support their families.  Parhna Warhna has also facilitated acting workshops for the kids, storytelling, science lessons, and origami crafts for development of creative thinking and motor skills, interpersonal skills, and problem solving.

--Onesimo: This ministry helps young people whose lives in the slums, or streets, are filled with hopelessness. Onesimo has eleven communities throughout Metro Manila with over 130 young people. Most were drug users, whose lives had been broken by this destructive habit. In Onesimo, they are introduced to a meaningful and restored life through Jesus Christ. HOW?

--Onesimo Bulilit: Onesimo Bulilit grew out of Onesimo as a ministry reaching out to younger street children and street dweller families.  It focuses on the streets of some of the most congested inner cities of Manila, and has established drop-in centers for street children, provides educational assistance and non-formal education, runs a residential center for abused children, trains young leaders, and advocates for children’s rights.

--Lilok: Educational opportunities for the poor are very limited as are their resources. Lilok is offering practical and innovative courses for youth leaders and community workers to be equipped to work for improvements in the context of their respective neighbourhoods. Through Lilok, Servants Manila is investing in the lives of urban slum leaders and church workers.

--Rumah Harapan:  J-Team health education group, which reaches mums who have their kids in teams school, They also offer a pregnancy support group.

--Shomota: Shomota is a social business that provides beautiful, sustainable cloth menstrual pads. They are empowering women to love their bodies, its natural cycles, and the environment in which they are surrounded. They are breaking down the barriers of gender inequality and training women as artisans, from marginalized communities in India, giving them hope and opportunity for their future. Join them in creating a healthier world, one menstrual cycle at a time. Read more here.

--Kiran--Kiran Social Enterprises (KSE) is a vocational training and employment center for women from the slums in India. Kiran focuses on women primarily unemployed or employed in the informal sector. This means that women especially are undervalued and have little to no rights in their workplace, including recourse for dispute resolution.

Relationships with Others

cambodia-135We are created to have right relationships with others.  We share this life with others: families, neighbours, strangers, migrants, traders, rulers, both near and distant. We are called to grow in justice, balancing the needs and rights of all. We seek to know, love, and serve each other. With a stance of mutual respect, we listen and learn, and practice healthy communication and conflict. This means healthy families, economic sufficiency, community engagement, and societal systems that work for all.

Examples within Servants where we are working towards transformation in this area:

--Justees-- is a project in which young men who have kicked their drug habit can work for a fair wage while still continuing their schooling through flexible work hours. They highly value work as a creative outlet and a means to earn a living. For this reason Justees seeks to operate as a self-funding project, encouraging the staff to see that the better they work the more successful it becomes.  You can read more here.

--Waihopai protest:  In 2008 three peace activists in New Zealand (including Servants Elder Adi Leason), deflated a plastic dome surrounding a US spy base.  Watch a news clip after they were found not guilty of any crimes here.

--Kamay Krafts: This is a cooperative in the Philippines that provides livelihood opportunities to over a hundred women who have to work from their home. Through this cooperative, these women export innovative products into several countries. The income generated is shared fairly among its members. Because they are able to work at home, where they can still care for their children, these women now receive an income and dignity through their hand-made items. For more information, visit their website here.

--Creative World Justice:  This is a group of folks that come together in Vancouver to worship God through creative engagement in world issues.  In the past they've taken on justice issues such as cruise shipsSingaporean maids, and sex trafficking.

--Advocacy work: J-team accompanying neighbours to navigate the bureaucracies of public health and systems of documentation, access free TB treatment, challenges health professionals and bureaucrats to use their power with integrity and compassion, also inspires and empowers neighbours to serve each other in a similar way.

--Christian's for Social Justice:  This is a group in Phnom Penh that created a meeting place between Christians exploring social justice, & human rights workers exploring spirituality/Jesus.  Together, the group has mobilised and taken part in a number of activities involving human rights, social justice, and protest.

--Urban health programs:  Servants was involved with about 10 health & development programs, which ran for 20.  These programs brought health care to the poorest of the poor in urban Phnom Penh.

Relationship with Creation

cambodia-041We are created to be in right relationship with creation.  The natural world is entrusted to our care, and “waits with eager longing” for us to fulfil our unique roles as images of God, whoever we are, wherever we are. We learn to listen to its groans, move with its rhythms, humbly receive its gifts, and work for its freedom from “bondage to decay” (Rom 8). We are stewards and caretakers of this earth.

Examples within Servants where we are working towards transformation in this area:

--Sakahang Lilok: Sakahang Lilok is an organic farm retreat at the edge of Manila offering people from the city special time-outs for rest, reflection, engaging with nature and the Creator. It is an opportunity for poor people to get a holiday from the slums and experience a model of creation care. 

--Community Gardens: Our teams in Southall (UK) and  Vancouver (Canada) have both turned vacant areas in their neighborhoods into places where life can thrive.  

--The Manila Solar Project: This was a project birthed from a desire to provide clean energy for the poor in Manila.

--Ashadesh: Ashadesh is a not for profit social enterprise working to enable families living in the slums of India to switch from primitive, smoky stoves that deal disease and death to clean burning ones. Read more here.