Tearfund is an organization that was born in the 1960s out of The Evangelical Alliance in the UK. Water and sanitation are major areas of focus for the organization as it works with local church partners and disaster response teams in more than 40 countries around the globe. Frank is Tearfund’s Water & Sanitation Advisor, and a friend. I thought you’d appreciate his perspective.
Jonathan Wiles: Frank—at Tearfund, you talk quite a bit about the interconnectedness of material and spiritual need. Tell us about that.
Frank Greaves: Tearfund is grounded in the principle of integral mission (from the Latino term misión integral). To us, this embodies the full gospel, representing both the voice and the hands of Jesus. We do not separate demonstration and proclamation, believing that we are here to serve, love, and have compassion—to walk with the poor, identify with them, and to know them by name.
Before I came on staff here in London, my wife and I were on the field for ten years, working with the skills and knowledge that we had; my wife Laura is a nurse, and I am a water engineer. On a daily basis we were able to talk and engage with those that we served—local staff and partners, community members and pastors—talking about the work we were doing, our faith, and what motivated us to be there. To me, the one-to-one relationships we were able to build during those years exemplify what I am talking about. It’s about sharing—because, of course, we learn and are ourselves transformed as we take part in integral mission.
At Tearfund, I’d say that we ultimately view poverty as broken relationships—with God, with ourselves, one another, and with our environment.