Caring for Body and Soul
At face-value, the ministry of FAIR could be said to be focused on physical needs more so than spiritual needs. Our FAIR projects range from emergency relief in the form of food and hygiene packs to support for refugees, dental services in Cambodia, and construction and renovation projects at many mission locations across the globe. It can be easy to overlook the biblical and spiritual importance of seeing to these very practical needs, as well as the spiritual impact these actions can have.
Jesus speaks of fulfilling practical needs at many different points in the New Testament. He speaks of the importance of loving our neighbour as we would ourselves (Mark 12:31) and caring for the hungry, thirsty, unclothed and sick (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus also fulfils the prophecy of Isaiah, speaking of how He was sent “to proclaim good news to the poor… liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” (Luke 4:18). As followers of Jesus, it is our joy to follow His direction and to emulate His example.
Despite these clear instructions found in God’s Word, we tend to overcomplicate things, asking questions such as, “why is it important?”, “will this really help?”, and “why should I participate?”
Some of the answers to these questions can be answered through basic human psychology, where the different needs we each encounter on a daily basis are arranged in a theory called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This model places needs in different levels, forming a pyramid with five layers. The theory proposes that to reach the top (self-actualization), one must have met needs listed in the first four levels physiological, safety, belongingness/love, and esteem needs). To see how body-care can equal soul-care, I like to look at it from a FAIR standpoint, using refugee sponsorship as an example.
The first two levels of needs are considered the basic needs. These physiological and safety needs would include items like food, water, warmth, and rest as well as a safe place to live. When churches commit to sponsor a refugee/family, they are committing to provide these basic needs. They offer refugees safety and stability by bringing them to Canada, far away from the chaos of refugee camps. By fulfilling those needs, it’s then possible for sponsorship teams to create intimate relationships, connecting refugees with their new community, building their skills and confidence, and helping them find a sense of accomplishment and belonging. These desires to belong and feel loved/esteemed are called psychological
The final level of need is self-fulfillment, or self-actualization. It typically relates to achieving one’s potential but can also lead to finding one’s identity. As sponsorship groups walk with their refugee(s), relationships are built and opportunities to help them discover and strengthen their identity in Christ increase. However, without meeting the most basic needs first, it’s unlikely these opportunities would arise.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see that God wants us to help others in such basic ways — body-care translates into soul-care. By meeting physical needs, hearts are prepared and relationships are built, opening doors for the Gospel to be shared. By supporting FAIR in providing for these physical needs, we participate in Kingdom-building as surely as if we were sharing the Gospel in person.
— Denise Wicks is Administrative Assistant for FAIR and our Communications department.