Often the most incredible innovations don’t require anything new at all. Instead, by putting old things together in a new way, we can create something revolutionary.
For example, cameras and phones have been around for decades. But someone put the two of them together, and now I use my phone to take pictures — especially of my grandchildren — and immediately share them. It’s an innovation that allows us to do something people have been doing for a long time, but we do it in a whole new way.
That’s what World Vision is doing with a program started three years ago in Tanzania called Securing Africa’s Future. This new approach is freeing communities from the grip of poverty faster than anything we have done before.
Securing Africa’s Future starts with a biblical worldview that encourages people to view themselves with dignity, possessing God-given abilities. It then combines agricultural training with business development in a unique way that is producing tremendous results. Incomes are doubling and tripling, communities are bonding together to care for each other, and farmers are turning into savvy business owners.
As a result, children are able to go to school. Because parents can adequately provide all of their needs, they are able to look forward to full and healthy lives, rich with opportunity.
In one sense, nothing is new here. World Vision has always done this sort of work. With Securing Africa’s Future, however, we are combining these ingredients to produce dramatic effects.
I hope that you’ll be as excited as I am by this full solution to poverty.
Jesus’ ministry and message provide another example of something that had already been around for a long time, yet in innovative ways, Jesus revolutionized the message of the Old Testament.
Jesus said that we are to wholeheartedly love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves — repeating an ancient part of the Jewish law. Launching his ministry, Jesus quoted the centuries-old words of Isaiah when he said he was sent to “proclaim the good news to the poor … to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.—Isaiah 43:19
God had delivered all those messages before through Moses and the prophets. What was new: God himself came in the person of Jesus Christ to make the announcement once again. With this innovation, Jesus launched a revolution, sending his disciples to go to the broken places in our world and reclaim, reform, and restore them for himself. Nothing changed, and yet everything did.
God is like that — never changing and yet always new. He is like that in our own lives. After a birth or a death, a disappointment or a celebration, truths that we have known for years can suddenly take on a new life. Passages in the Bible that have long been familiar to us can strike us in a new way.
At World Vision, we have always been motivated by God’s call to care for the widows and orphans, to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, and bind the wounds of the hurting. God’s call doesn’t change. Whatever innovation comes next or whatever changes, we can be assured that — rooted in Scripture and Jesus’ calling — we are always pursuing the best ways to follow Jesus.
Thank you for your ongoing partnership in God’s work around the world. Your dedication helps provide new vision, opportunity, and hope for millions of families.
World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns is the author of The Hole In Our Gospel and Unfinished. Follow him at twitter.com/richstearns.