Seek Ye First the Kingdom – In World Relief

As followers of Christ, we pray almost daily, “Thy Kingdom come.” This is our goal as members of the invisible body of Christ, and it is our goal as a denomination. This goal is essentially one of restoration. Every Christian yearns for the new heaven and new earth which will follow Christ’s return. At that time, there will be no more need for boards of missions and for world relief agencies. Restoration and perfection will have been achieved.

But meanwhile, our job as Christians is to seek the restoration of mankind. The Lord grieves because of the suffering of His creation and longs for complete and full restoration. Where does CRWRC fit into the church‘s work of restoration; and more particularly, into the Christian Reformed denomination’s work toward restoration?

CRWRC’s role in this effort is that of one member of a team working toward restoration. The purpose is comprehensive kingdom restoration, restoration of the world so that God can again call it “good.” While we can never reach this goal of perfection, we can work toward it and create glimpses of what such a kingdom will be.

Our denominational missionary outreaches provide the Biblical message of salvation in a formal, structured away. CRWRC provides the fullest possible measure of Christian mercy to complement this formal preaching ministry, so that the goal of comprehensive restoration may be attained. CRWRC staff and the missionary staffs are members of a team working toward one goal—restoration—but each working in his or her own area. This is consistent with the teaching that the body is made up of many members, each to serve his or her own function, each of equal value to the whole body.

In other areas of the world. where our denominational missions are not active, CRWRC works in conjunction with other Christian ministries, sometimes national, sometimes missions of other orthodox churches, once again to obtain the same goal, that of restoration. We are always mindful that restoration of man’s spiritual needs is paramount. Actual life situations, however, do not always present themselves in ideal settings. We do encounter situations where we feel that the Lord leads us to perform mercy. There have been occasions when such a ministry led to fruitful evangelistic efforts. We must proceed responsibly in faith and in obedience.

As restoration of mankind begins, a measure of restored kingdom is established. We call that the Christian community. This community or restored kingdom is established. We call that the Christian community. This community or restored kingdom takes care of its members to the best of its ability. and reaches out to others in love. This is one of CRWRC’s unique functions—to help the members of the Christian community see their obligation and their ability to take care of their own and to reach out to others. In short, part of CRWRC’s function is to develop the diaconal ministry among Christian groups with whom we work.

In some parts of the world, the need for physical restoration for the food, clothes, water. and the attention mentioned in Matthew 25—is so urgent that even the absence of an acceptable formal preaching ministry docs not excuse us from performing our Christian ministry of meeting need. In such cases, we “minister in the name of our Lord . . . to relieve the suffering,” as our Constitution puts it, meanwhile working and praying; for the day when the ministry in such an area can be a complete ministry, one which brings the preaching of the Word to the people along with the ministry of mercy, in order to bring about more complete restoration.


Once CRWRC has established its goal of working as part of a team to bring about comprehensive restoration, it must make some hard choices as to where, in all the world‘s areas of need, it will work, CRWRC uses the following criteria in making those choices.

First, likelihood of response to our efforts. Christ used this measure when He was sending out disciples on their first work assignments. As a denomination and as an agency, we must be good stewards in the discharge of our task; that means choosing to work in areas where there seems some likelihood of response.

Another goal or standard follows closely; namely, that of making the p:reatest possible use of local or national resources. The ultimate goal of restoration of the kingdom, or the fullest manifestation of the Christian community, demands that there be local desire and local skill so that Christian community in that place can become a manifestation of the restored kingdom.

Achievement of these goals depends upon another closely related goal: that of treating causes rather than symptoms. While no Christian can deny the need for food that exists for countless numbers, a more important and longer-lasting approach toward meeting the need is to determine the cause of the food shortage and attempt to deal with the cause, not just with the immediate need.

Such an approach frequently leads CRWRC into the teaching, training, or demonstrating method of working. Instead of only supplying the immediate needs, CRWRC attempts to teach the people to meet their own needs, so that in the future they will not have to call on outside help. This method has a multiplier effect. in that those who arc taught frequently go on to teach others.

CRWRC is thirteen years old. In its years of existence, the major thrust in its servic:e has been people. CRWRC grew as people in the pew poured out their gifts of gratitude, which in turn made it possible for CRWRC to develop more than a score of dedicated staff people working in ten different areas of the world. The people component of our’ work is further evidenced in a willing: and vigorous group of board members and a hard-working administrative staff.

All of this is not strange. Reflect for a moment on the model provided by our Lord and Savior Himself. He performed the servant role. He instructed His disciples to do the same. our diaconates arc built around service. including “words of consolation and cheer from Scripture.” Such a practice demands people—dedicated, qualified Christian staff people.

“Seek ye first the kingdom” is an injunction to every Christian, to every organization that claims to be Christian. The goal of CRWRC in response to that command is aptly compressed in our Constitution: “whereas the sacrifice of Christ was made for the redemption of the whole man, body, and soul . . . the Christian Reformed Church establishes this Christian Reformed World Relief Committee to minister in the name of our Lord . . . to relieve suffering.”