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How are faith-based development organizations different from secular ones?

Did you know many of the world’s largest development organizations are faith-based? World Vision, Compassion, Tearfund, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Islamic Relief… they’re all rooted in a faith tradition.

For many religions like Christianity, charity and justice play an important role. As Christians, we worship and follow Jesus of Nazareth, who told us to love our neighbours as ourselves. He also taught that when someone was hungry, homeless, or in prison, what we do for that person is what we would do for Jesus himself.

Doing good deeds, giving to charity, and living a just and compassionate life are key to living as a Christian. With 31% of the world’s population identifying as Christian, it’s no wonder there are so many faith-based organizations that are Christian. 

Secular vs. Faith-based

The main difference you will probably notice between faith-based and secular organizations is motivation to do good work.

At Tearfund, our core essence is relentless love. We are loved by an amazing God and are called to love others in response – even our enemies. In loving others through good works, we are able to point people to God and eternal life beyond this one. We are motivated by our faith in Jesus, who we believe changes the entire person; spiritually, socially, mentally and physically. An organization that is secular may just be driven by goodwill, a belief in human dignity or in doing good for others.

Many faith-based organizations will work through local churches or Christian agencies where they work. They may also work through government and other local organizations. Secular organizations tend to only work with other secular organizations and governments.

What makes Tearfund different?

We believe our Community-Based Church Transformation model is one of the most effective ways of ending extreme poverty.

Tearfund goes beyond the surface needs of the people, deep into the root causes of poverty because our whole focus is on restoring broken relationships – with God, within families, communities, and with creation. Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty so that we’re not needed anymore. Through our focus on local partnerships, we create change that is efficient, effective, and local-friendly.

We believe that the church is the most effective vehicle for bringing hope into a community. It can be the catalyst for real transformation. God’s people are the only entity capable of addressing the broken relationships that are at the root of poverty. We support local churches to address these broken relationships, bring new life, and transform the lives of the poor.

The problem with many solutions to poverty is that they are incomplete. Poverty isn’t just physical, it’s emotional, social, and spiritual – caused by broken relationships. We seek to help the whole person. Our goal isn’t “just” about helping people overcome poverty, it’s about people living life to the full and being part of God’s Kingdom-building, life-giving mission.

Want to learn more about Tearfund? Check out our website https://tearfund.ca/why-tearfund/

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