Evalyne’s story began as she described her past life in Uganda. She talked about feeling helpless because of her poverty, seeing her children drifting away, feeling her prayer life empty, and knowing her church was doing nothing for or with the community.
Then she talked about being “transformed.”
She could name the year it happened, and she proceeded to name the year her pastor was transformed, and the year her church was transformed. She wasn't talking about when she became a Christian, or the year the church started.
Evalyne was describing the Bible studies and preaching that she experienced as her church participated in Tearfund's Church and Community Transformation work. It was a turning point in her life.
The transformation she described was a new understanding of the whole Gospel - not just the part of the gospel in which Jesus saves souls, but the whole gospel that touches all of life. Her transformation came when she realized that her own destiny was linked to God’s mission in the whole world. She didn't need to passively accept her material poverty or the social dysfunctions around her. God was calling her to lift herself and her family out of poverty. He had already given her skills and resources, and he showed her where to find more.
It wasn’t only Evalyne who experienced a changed mindset. Her whole church was transformed into a body that cared about whole people, teaching each other about God's mission, and about self-reliance, the dignity of work, the need for husbands and wives to be united, and the power of cooperation.
What Evalyne and her church understood was the wholeness of the Gospel. Bible scholar Christopher Wright explains:
The Bible brings us the most amazing good news that speaks to and can transform every area of human life that is touched by sin (which means every area of human life there is). The trouble is that we have tended to concentrate on one or another aspect of the biblical good news, to the detriment of others. (p. 273, The Mission of God’s People).
Jesus came preaching about the whole mission of God in the world, the coming of the kingdom, the changing of everything (Luke 4:16-21). Colossians says that through Jesus's death on the cross, "all things" are being reconciled to God, brought into harmony and peace (Colossians 1:19-20). That includes the mending of broken relationships. We are brought back into right relationships: with God, with ourselves, with others, and with the rest of Creation.
Knowing this truth brought transformation to Evalyne. Her mind was renewed, she gave her all to God, and she was changed along with her church and community (Romans 12:1).God does wants our individual lives to be joined with his (for us to be born again), but that’s the starting line, not the finish line. We get to be part of the mission of God that extends from us to our families, to our communities, societies, nations, and even to the rest of creation.
What God did for one individual and one church in southwestern Uganda, he wants to do with all his people and their churches. We need our minds to be renewed, so that we can be transformed like our Ugandan brothers and sisters, to offer our all to God and to his mission in the world.