The Christian City Church (C3) ministry was founded by Pastor Phil and Chris Pringle in Sydney, Australia in 1980.The church was initially known as ‘Christian Centre Northside’. The church grew rapidly and opened other branches; the collection of these churches formed the movement known as the Christian City Church.
The church believes in the sovereignty of God and is committed to connecting people to God through having a personal relationship with Christ Jesus. The message of the church is having faith in God, hope and love for one another. The church believes in the holy trinity of God; that is God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit. The teachings of the church are based in the Christian doctrine as illustrate in the Bible. The ministry also teaches that all people are in need of God and can only have an everlasting relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ.
This Ministry believes that Christ is the Son of God, He (Christ) was born of Virgin Mary, He lived a sinless life, He performed miracles, and He resurrected and ascended to heaven. After ascending to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit as he had promised his disciples during his preaching ministry. The C3 ministry teaches that the Holy Spirit is vital in the life of every believer as He impart gifts which are essential in the church.
The Ministry practices water baptism by immersion in water for all those who believe in their faith. Just like other Christians, the church believes in the resurrection of all people. Those who believed in Christ Jesus and practiced His teachings will enjoy everlasting life while the rest will be eternally separated from God.
The Beyond ministry vision is to love all people and assisting the needy in the society. The ministry believes that they are blessed to be a blessing unto others and hence are committed to empowering lives through creating opportunities. This ministry is sponsored by many businesses in their locality as well as by the guest speakers of C3 church. The ministry also benefits from the generous contribution of the church members. They also organize events such as auctions in attempt to raise more money.
Beyond ministry has managed to restore hope to the hopeless and has provided home to the homeless. They have also enabled many young people to achieve their dreams by creating opportunities for them through a sub-ministry called Oasis. This has been achieved through establishment of training centers for the disadvantaged youths.
The ministry has also set out to African countries such as Uganda and Tanzania where they have impacted many lives. In Northern Uganda for example, the ministry sent nurses who volunteered to offer their services in the health centers. They provided antenatal care to the pregnant women and attended the sick. While in Uganda the ministry supported the C3 church members by giving them bicycles. They also started a farming project targeting the local farmers of northern Uganda. The farmers were provided with the planting materials, cattle and plow. The ministry also trained the farmers some modern farming techniques including organic farming and environmental management.
The ministry has managed to establish a secondary school in Tanzania in attempt meet the need for education for the local community living near the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. They also bought twenty acres of land for growing food to feed the students. The Beyond ministry also organize visits to the aged. They carry food and gifts with them and inspire the aged through preaching and praying for them. (Christian City Church, 1). The ministry aims for a long term relationship with the people they help. They empower those they help so that they maximize on their potential and to live a blessed life with a purpose.
The work of Beyond Ministry does not reflect a biblical theology of God’s response to suffering because according to the bible, suffering is the plan of God. The bible clearly indicates that suffering is normal for all those who believe in God and in his Son Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts 14: 22 and in 1 Thess. 3:3, the bible elaborates that to enter the kingdom of God we must go through hardships and trials. The bible further explains that sufferings are inevitable in the life of a Christian. (2 Tim. 3:12). It teaches that God allows suffering in our lives for our own good and therefore Christians should endure it. God did not prevent His Son from suffering. (Rom. 8: 28-32). Suffering is Gods way of disciplining those He loves.
Jesus Christ himself experienced suffering and had the following to teach about suffering.
- Blessed are the persecuted because of righteousness ( Mt.5. 4-6)
- “Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul”. ( Mt. 10:28)
- “I tell you the truth; it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mt. 19.23-24)
- “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”(Luke 12. 49-53.)
- “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife
and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple...In the same way; any of you who do not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14.26-17, 33)
- “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same
way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5.12)
- “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and
children, his brothers and sisters-, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.
And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple...
In the same way, any of you who do not give up everything he has cannot be my
disciple.” (Luke 14.17-26, 33)
- “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.” (Luke 21.12-19)
- “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not
lacking anything” (James 1.2-4)
- “These [trials] have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which
perishes even though refined by fire— may be proved genuine and may result in
praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Thought you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”1 Peter 1 7-8.
From the biblical illustration above, it is evident that eliminating all sufferings from Christians is contrary to the will of God. The bible teaches that Christian sufferings are not in vain but for the glory of God. Sufferings as a way of discipline, produces righteousness. (Heb.12: 11)
The work of Beyond Ministry does not therefore reflect a biblical theology of God’s response to suffering.
Liberalization theory of the poor
My view concerning the suffering of the poor in the society is anchored in the liberalization theology of the poor. In this perspective, I consider poverty as a result of not only economic injustices but also social and political injustices in the society as a whole. Therefore to eliminate this vice, all stakeholders should be involved to fight and assist in their different ways by focusing their activities towards addressing the cause of poverty rather than addressing the temporary issues and consequences of poverty but leaving the core issue untouched. This view is also supported by Jesus Christ and the biblical teachings and interpretations which advocates against poverty and its root cause as sin to continue with Jesus Christ mission against injustices in the world. Due to these predicaments in the society where the number of poor people have drastically increased, it’s my strong belief that poor people should be helped and empowered to overcome their current state.
Their situation is exacerbated by the social, economic and political set ups among different countries in the society. These people should be empowered to catch up with the rest of society members who are advantaged enough to be average and rich to afford their basic needs and are independent. The social injustices and sin prevalent in the social settings further worsen the poverty situation in many countries. Organizations, government as well as individuals should come out and assist to fight against the increasing vice that is so fast eating the society and widening the gap between the rich and the poor.
However, there have been various organizations, individuals and ministries that have been involved to the welfare of the poor in the society and their efforts have attracted several opinions. Despite criticisms directed towards them, I believe their efforts should be supported by all who have the welfare of these unfortunate in the society at heart largely due to their role they play in maintaining social order. Every resource should be employed to ensure the social, economic and political injustices that widen this gap are tackled and seriously addressed by the respective authorities and the government. To complement their efforts, non-governmental organizations and ministries across the world have voluntarily been involved to bridge this gap through various empowerments of the poor in the society.
One such ministry is Beyond under C3 Church in Australia. This ministry has encouraged me greatly in their approach towards this vital issue. Their activities have been geared towards alleviating the suffering of the poor across the globe. Their involvement in poverty alleviation schemes has proved this all and this offers me a great encouragement. It’s in my view and opinion that poor people are equal members of the society and should enjoy equal privileges just like the rest of the people. Education that is easily affordable among the average and rich people lacks among the poor.
Beyond has provided this paramount ingredients in poverty alleviation through construction of learning institutions especially in Africa. This is a great encouragement to note their practical steps. They have also provided a channel through which young poor people gets opportunities of empowerment through various programs carried out by the ministry. They have also gone a mile further in provision of basic needs like food and shelter to the poor. Their involvements in farming projects and provision of equipments and seeds to farmers have gone a long way in empowering this category of people. Beyond ministry have also encouraged me as well as challenging my view of alleviating suffering to the poor with their milestone in provision of social amenities like health to the poor, I have held the perception that poor should be helped but not taking practical steps to help the them. What they have done in African countries like provision of free health care facilities is an encouragement and a challenge to my theology regarding the poor.
Poverty is a vice and a problem that every society has to deal with whether recognized or not since it’s a part of the society. As discussed earlier in the paper, its cause has been attributed to the social injustices in the society across the world. As a result, its alleviation should be taken as a responsibility of every stakeholder without fail. A combined effort is vital in this fight which cannot be won by individuals but as corporate effort is undertaken, it will finally be achieved. Such an example has being witnessed by the activities of Beyond ministry, a branch in Cs3 church in Australia. Its empowerment programs for the poor through educational training, agricultural empowerment and provision of social amenities should be emulated to curb this vice. Even in consideration to the biblical teaching of the poor and their suffering, this group of people should be considered as equal human beings as the bible teaches. Therefore every effort should be considered and undertaken to alleviate the suffering experienced by the poor and more importantly curb the social injustices considered as the root cause.