Matthew and Renee 
Sometimes our well-intentioned efforts to help those we are trying to reach with the gospel, end up doing more harm than good.  When we "do" for others what they are fully capable of "doing" themselves, however well-intentioned our efforts may be, we not only run the risk of creating a spiritual welfare state, but we often destroy dignity.  This edition of ETools is intended to provoke thinking and prayer that will hopefully lead readers to evaluate whether or not their work among the people that God has called them to be His channel of blessing is helping or hurting.


'TIl all have heard,


Matthew Ellison

President and Missions Coach

Missions and Economic Development:

Empowering Communities Towards Change

by Kristen Mattila, Contributing Writer


I crossed the U.S./Mexico border for the first time eleven years ago. My experience was cliché. Like thousands of other North American youth, I participated in a Mexico Mission Trip - a week full of vacation bible school in the park, a women's bible study, and a construction project.

It is not uncommon experience to participate in a short-term mission trip and leave with both a spiritual high and misconceptions regarding the community. It was as if I had been participating in some sort of missions 'gringo' circus of weeklong giveaways without ever engaging in partnership. I never really got to know the community's real stories of physical and drug abuse and the constant struggle to find employment. I would report back to my home church on how poor the village was in comparison to the standard of living I was accustomed to and explain my surprise at the level of generosity I experienced from members of the community. The inequalities I witnessed would captivate my mind for a short while and then become a faint whisper in my thoughts.


After years of participating in the same trip there was something deep inside of me that was beginning to realize that maybe I missed the point of what missions should be. Perhaps there was something more meaningful I could engage in that would have long lasting impact rather than a faded memory of handing out candy.


After seven years of participating in my church's annual mission trip I moved down to Mexico. I had just finished my undergraduate degree and committed to volunteer for three months to teach English and volunteer with the youth group ministry. I quickly realized I had a shallow understanding of the real situation in the village. Casual conversations turned into in-depth and heartfelt exchanges as women began to open up about their daily struggles and the difficult economic situation. It was at this moment I knew I had to do more. It wasn't enough to bring piñatas full of candy purchased in the United States and gift packages for the women. I wanted to participate in something long-term. I was realizing there was a desperate need for a more comprehensive view of missions-one that combines the gospel of Christ and meets the basic needs of people. I was coming to understand what Robert D. Lupton meant when he wrote in his book Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life, "Betterment does for others; development enables others to do for themselves. Betterment improves conditions; development strengthens capacity." (39)


After returning to the United States I moved to Albuquerque and started graduate school at the University of New Mexico. I am pursuing a dual masters degree in Community and Regional Planning and in Latin American Studies, currently in my third and final year. The impetus for my thesis came out of conversations with a few women from the village in Mexico. After spending time in the community I saw the immense potential and skills that these women possess. They are a talented group of women with dreams and ambitions.


I chose to focus my graduate studies pursuing community development and economic development tools such as microfinance. In my thesis I am looking at alternative income generating opportunities for women in Mezquital using a participatory research process. Mezquital is the village that my church has been partnering with for 15 years. I am partnering with women who are interested in looking at other avenues to make a living rather than the exploitative labor conditions of working in the fields or factories. In addition, many of these women have children and their current employment options are not conducive to raising a family. God has blessed these women with an assortment of gifts and I want to help these women realize their potential as agents of change and leaders. My hope is that they may become economically self sufficient in a way that brings dignity to their families and more importantly themselves. These women are independent and not dependent and given the proper resources and training they will accomplish great things.


From the start, it was my desire to involve women in the community at every step. Historically, top-down economic development programs have proven futile because they have neglected to understand there is a wealth of knowledge that comes from within the community. In the context of my project it is the women who are the experts. They know their personal and household needs and are familiar with the real situation of the community. Real and lasting change will come from empowering these women to be active agents in the social and economic change their community needs. We are exploring options of using a cooperative model to meet the need of a local childcare center or microloans that will offer women the capital they need to start a small business. Additionally, other needs have been identified such as continued education, business training, and savings. The programs must be holistic to ensure success at all levels. The solution to the pressing needs of the community is not my perception of what would be best for the women. I can offer tools, resources, and advice but the heart of the project must come from within the community. For the project to take off and to ensure long-term sustainability it must be community driven. When we start to understand this concept I believe we can start to participate in missions that will effect sustainable change in communities based in a mutual partnership.


Lastly, I want to touch on exchange. This is a key component of development work. During an interview one woman commented that she was grateful for what I was doing for the women in the community regardless of the outcome. She continued to explain that she is hopeful that they can help me with completing my thesis. The women realize they have knowledge to bring to the table. It is no longer a one-sided street towards development of me doing for the poor what they are capable of doing for themselves. In my efforts to facilitate a process to help these women understand their value they made me feel valued. We are experiencing mutual exchange and are a part of something that I believe is bringing us a little closer to the kingdom as we participate together, as a team, in the process of creating a economic development program.


While my project is still in the planning and research stages I believe it has a strong foundation in the principles of bottom up community development. My desire is that these women realize that they are already on a journey that began prior to my arrival. God has been working in their lives and this community whether they realize it or not. I want the woman to understand that this process and project didn't begin with me nor will it end with me. The power and the potential are within the community. It is the women who will enact lasting change for themselves. I hope to help them uncover that which is beautiful and strong within themselves and their community.
Stretegic Partner: Food for the Hungry
C2C - Church 2 Community Partnerships
Interview with Josh Kienzle

1) What is C2C approach?
It is a way of engaging the American church to partner with communities in the "walking with" process. Many see development as something that professionals do, but there are practical ways for churches to get involved in funding and supporting that work.

C2C is designed, to take a global missions movement, that is both exciting and overwhelming, and make it accessible to everyone at the church. Most people are not very familiar with global issues and this is a practical way for them to develop a heart and a passion for specific communities and regions throughout the world. It will help local churches understand the complexities of poverty and to view it not just as another statistic. It takes an abstract concept and transforms it into something that people can understand in a more intimate and personal way. We want churches to have a role.

For a church in the United States this can be an opportunity for them to be a part of the process of community transformation and to let the process change them. The church is able to sponsor children in a certain community. It is about getting to know the community relationally on a deeper level. In some cases, the church even has the opportunity to go and visit that community on a short -term team. People from the church are also able to participate in activities at their local church in relation to the mission. It is about getting the whole church to know and understand the community. Always finding ways that engages the whole church-whether or not members of the church ever go to that community.

2) What does "walking with" look like on a day-to-day basis?

It is about helping believers understand that poverty is not just something we can deal with. We tend to view poverty as if it is just an object that needs to be fixed or poverty alleviation as something to be accomplished. But, it is a relational problem. When we look at Genesis, after sin entered the world, there was a broken relationship between God and Man, Adam and Eve, and between Man and Creation.


We were left with all of these broken relationships. If we want to address poverty we must begin to work on those relationships. Walking equals working on those relationships with communities, families, and leaders. We will still look at statistics on poverty and try to measure it, but all this will happen within a relational model. We don't tell communities what to do. Instead we ask those probing questions, for example, why are children not going to school? And we wait for a response. We look at what biblical worldview or lack of it is motivating decisions one way or another. When we invite churches to use the C2C model they have to understand it will be a slow process. When we are looking at the root cause we realize there are no quick ways to improve a community. Those quick interventions are not long lasting. Dealing with root causes, why kids are not in school, that is a walking process. It is day-by-day, digging at the roots and discovering why the community doesn't value education. Perhaps biblically an American church doesn't struggle with that, but how do we help the community understand this on their own. It is slow. We seek to walk with communities to help them understand what the bible says about education. We must share slowly and let them come to the same conclusions as we did. This takes longer than churches simply saying education is good and building a school.

3) What are practical ways for churches to apply C2C?

Child sponsorship is a way for churches to get involved with a community. It is a great way for families to commit and support a family. Some churches have chosen to have a letter writing party where all the families who are sponsoring children gather together. This does a couple of things. It is an opportunity to connect and to talk about the community and what they have heard from the children. We don't have the letter option just for the purposes of a pen pal program. Through this letter writing process the church is able to move away from viewing the letter writing process as just a task, but also as an opportunity to share the gospel through the written word. Most Americans may share their faith verbally, but this now gives them the opportunity to write to the family and to share God's truth in a way that makes sense to them and comes from their hearts. Additionally, the communities are able to hear the gospel from an outside audience. Sponsorship helps supply the financial resources, but it is also a way of engaging the church and the community. It can have an impact through mutual transformation. The process is no longer transactional development. There is a back and forth between the community and the church.


4) Do you have any advice for churches or organizations that are interested in getting involved in this type of ministry?

Prior to contacting Food for Hungry, if a church is reevaluating their missions approach, my advice is to one, look at the church dynamics and find out what is the ethos of the church. The church needs to find out if there is an organization that connects with their church's values and principles. Food for Hungry isn't a perfect match for every church.  It is important to find an organization that resonates with your goals. The organization needs to be reputable and there must be accountability. Once a common ethos is identified and the organization has proven to be trustworthy, the next question is how can we work together?
If Food for the Hungry is an organization that you would like to partner with, you can contact Josh for more information or visit their website.
 A Church Unleashed Through Missions Coaching

16:15 interviewed Bruce Stidworthy, the Missions Director from Copper Pointe Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico about Project 6:8, which is their unique global vision for missions that was forged through Sixteen:Fifteen's missions coaching process. A component of Project 6:8 is the support of an economic development program designed to share the Gospel and provide employment options for the men of the Tarahumara community.


1) What is Project 6:8?


Project 6:8 is the name we have given our missions program at Copper Pointe. The meaning is based on an exchange in Isaiah 6:8 when God asks, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" and Isaiah responds, "Here I am. Send me." With the help of Sixteen:Fifteen we identified two unreached people groups; in Mexico and Africa. Project 6:8 fits well with our missions theme, "at home, across the border, and around the world." At home, in Albuquerque, we support local efforts, across the border with the Tarahumara people, and around the world with the Digo people of Kenya.


2) Can you explain the ministry that Copper Pointe supports with the Tarahumara people?


With the help of Sixteen:Fifteen we were connected with an organization called Lightshine and are currently partnering with them in Chihuahua, Mexico. Lightshine is an organization that is working with the Tarahumara, an indigenous people group from the Sierra Madre Mountains. Due to a severe drought in the mountains the Tarahumara have been migrating to the cities to find employment. There are around 10,000 Tarahumara living in Chihuahua city. The Mexican government has set aside parcels of land around the city of Chihuahua and has provided housing for the Tarahumara. There are about 30 different communities that have been built up around Chihuahua. The conditions of these communities are sub par and it is not uncommon to find more than ten people living in one home.


We have adopted one of the communities, Comunidad Tarahumara. In Philipians 4:1 Paul writes, " Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!" We have adopted this verse as our way of thinking about the Tarahumara community. We look at the souls of the community in this way. Part of that partnership is a child sponsorship program. Our church sponsors about 50 families for $35/month. The money is administered by Light Shine and used to provide food, teaching materials, and to help minister to the families. They are the boots on the ground and we send a few short-term missions teams each year.


The sponsorship program was effective in reaching children and women but not men. We came up with an idea that would incorporate the need to disciple the Tarahumara men and to meet their need for employment. The primary goal of this program was to achieve a mechanism for men to be led to Christ and discipled. Our secondary motivation was to create a program that would be financially self-sustaining. The Tarahumara are known for their ability to run long distances and they wear simple handmade sandals called huaraches while they run. The idea was to get men together and have them make sandals and then sell them in the United States and Mexico. To do this they came up with a more westernized version of the sandal, bought some equipment, invested in training men, and started taking orders from churches in the United States.


3) What have been some of the successes of the program?


One of the successes of this program was that discipleship occurred with the men who participated. There were two men who made huge strides in terms of their worldview. One of the men has completely accepted Christ and is living his life for Christ. Up to this point there have been three Tarahumara men who were involved in the project. One most stunning successes is the story of young man named Victor. He was living on the streets using drugs. After Victor was released from jail, a pastor named Rogelio, took him in and began to disciple him. When Victor got married he gave his testimony. This was the first time that a Tarahumara had given their testimony publicly. He talked about the love that was shown to him and how that made all the difference in his life. Despite his background of drugs and alcohol he now knows the importance of living for Christ and providing for his wife. I would say that this was a big public victory of the huarache program.


4) What are other creative ways in which you have seen ministries combining sharing the Gospel and economic development?

Alfonso, one of our missionary partners was sent to Kenya by a church in South Africa. His mission is to facilitate the ministry to the unreached people groups in Kenya. There are about 20 groups on his list. Kenya is majority Christian. What Alfonso basically does is encourage Kenyans to be trained cross-culturally. He works with people who are called to missions and he comes alongside them, supports and trains them.

One specific area that he focuses on is helping missionaries establish an entry point to the communities they are going to. The unreached communities are often off the beaten path. Missionaries need some reason to be there in order to be accepted and to be able to start connecting with people. In Kenya most people have cell phones, but few people have landlines. People have cell phones and even in the most remote areas they still have coverage. But most of the people who have cell phones don't have electricity or water. They have to travel to the next town and pay someone to charge their cell phone. So, Alfonso set up this guy with a solar panel and the electrical gadgets. Out of his home he could charge people a small fee to charge their cell phones. This not only brought people to his door to support his business, but more importantly he was able to start establishing relationships with them and telling them about Jesus.


For more information about how Sixteen:Fifteen can help your church unleash its potential to reach the nations, please contact us at [email protected] or 505.248.1615.

The Sixteen:Fifteen Team

Mar 30-31, 2012

FCCI Conference

Albuquerque, NM -

Matthew Ellison will be speaking

April 5, 2012

Missio Nexus Webinar
Cultivating a Missions Culture
in the Local Church: Inculcating Values that Bring Missions to Life.
Matthew Ellison will be speaking
Click here for more info


April 13, 2012
The Power of Church-Based
Mission Teams

A Free Webinar for Church and Mission Leaders

Register Here


May 15th-16th

CAN Mission Partneship Forum in Kansas City, MS
Matthew ELlison will be speaking



When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself  by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.

This book is a great resource for churches and individuals who are interested in development work. It challenges readers to take a somber look at their motivations for the poverty alleviation work they engage in both locally and internationally and how their actions affect those they intend to help. The books shares examples of good-hearted people with good intentions who ended up harming both themselves and those they intended to help.  The authors break down common misconceptions of poverty and present poverty from a biblical and relational perspective.  Additionally, the book offers practical ways in engage in development activities based in mutual partnership with a holistic understanding of poverty.  Each chapter concludes with a set of questions that will help spark a group conversation over the material and are useful for personal reflection.


For more information check out the When Helping Hurts website.


This month's featured Ageny Partner is FH - Food for the Hungry.

Food for the Hungry is faith-based non-profit organization that seeks, "to walk with churches, leaders, and families in overcoming all forms of human poverty by living in healthy relationship with God and His creation." Sixteen:Fifteen interviewed Josh Kienzle from Food for the Hungry to learn more about the Community to Community (C2C) approach to development work and how churches can apply this model.



The status quo is changing. With the assistance of Sixteen:Fifteen and its innovative 3D process, churches across North America are deploying comprehensive strategies to shine forth the light of Christ among these once hidden, forgotten or marginalized peoples.

Find out how YOUR church can be unleashed to reach more unreached peoples with the Gospel of Christ.
  • The Silver Palaung of Burma
  • The Fra Fra of West Africa
  • The Iraqi Arabs of the Middle East
  • The Middle Atlas Berbers of Morocco
  • Arabic Muslims of North Africa
  • The Guaymi of Panama
  • The Rabinal Achi of Guatemala
  • The Tarahumara of Central Mexico
  • Behdini Kurds of the Middle East
  • Digo of Kenya 
  • Huichol of West Central Mexico
  • Sikhs of Vancouver, BC and Punjab N India
  • Ligbi of Ghana *just added!*
  • Wolof of Senegal *just added!*