Christian Community Development, the mission trip that doesn't go away


“The people with the problem must be part of the solution to the problem,” shared Jimmy Dorrell, pastor of Church Under the Bridge and executive director of Mission Waco, during the “Caring for the least of These” workshop presented Monday morning at the 2017 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting.

Dorrell detailed how he grew up without need and was blessed with more than he wanted. Upon arriving in Waco and attending college at Baylor University, his perspective changed. For the first time in his life, he saw real poverty.

“Our background is our glasses,” Dorrell said. “It shapes how we see things.” The lens Dorrell continually looked through began to diminish as he became more exposed to different people who were in various situations of life.

Over time, as Dorrell learned more about poverty and those in it, his heart began to expand for those in need. He confidently stated, “I have been blessed to bless others.”

After taking a four month trip around the world with his wife and one-year-old child, Dorrell knew something must change when he came home to Waco. It was through this experience that led to what would become Mission Waco.

Mission Waco developed through Dorrell and his family moving into a 4,000 square foot house in a low-income part of North Waco. Forty years later, they still reside there.

“When you live incarnationally, it’s the mission trip that doesn’t go away,” testified Dorrell.

It took living among people of poverty to know what they needed, and to earn the privilege to share the Gospel with them. Additionally, Dorrell said, “Poverty alleviation is more than economic recovery–it’s about relationships.”

Teaching from When Help Hurts, Dorrell elaborated on how one’s view of poverty influences what he or she does to fight against it. If poverty is viewed as a lack of knowledge, then the solution will be to educate the poor. If it is seen as oppression by powerful people, then one will work towards social justice. If poverty is seen to be caused by the personal sins of the poor, evangelism and discipleship will be the solution. If it is a lack of material things, the answer is giving material resources.

However, Dorrell proposed that a more holistic approach is necessary. Christian Community Development involves revitalizing neighborhoods and bringing all socioeconomic levels together. Dorrell detailed social action paired with the Gospel, because together they do the most good. “Being saved is just the beginning,” he said. “Christians need to know how to take action.”

The “Caring for the Least of These” workshop embodied how Texas Baptists are compelled to take action against poverty and serve those in need. What happens in return? Those served will become empowered to serve others.

Dorrell concluded, “Why has God blessed me so much? To bless the nations.”  

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