Written by Bailey Kalvelage • Director of Mobilization

“You are the salt of the earth…. You are the light of the world…” These familiar words found in Matthew 5:13-16 had my ears perked as I listened in church last Sunday. I’ve heard this passage so many times, but like Scripture often does, these words are having a fresh effect on me.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:13-16

You are the salt of the earth…

Salt in ancient times was a valuable commodity. At times, it was even traded weight for weight with gold. Two of its values were preservation and its ability to slow down disease and impurity…. Further, gé, the Greek word for “earth” in verse 13, means “the earth, soil, land, region, country, inhabitants of a region.”  So when we put it all together, Christ is telling His followers, the church, that they are agents of preservation and disease fighters for the inhabitants of a region, our communities. Even more simply, the church is to preserve and slow down the disease and decay within our communities.

You are the light of the world…

Jesus continues with declaring His church is also the light of the world. The transliteration from Greek of “world” is “kósmos: the world, universe; worldly affairs.” This is something much bigger than the previous reference to “earth”; it goes beyond our community and speaks to our influence on today’s worldly affairs, the culture. As a bright light points and directs everyone’s attention to a speaker on a stage, so our faith in Christ is to draw the attention of our culture to Christ.

So what does this have to do with World Orphans?

World Orphans exists because we believe what Scripture says about the church. We believe that Christ’s followers are meant to be the salt and light of their communities, countries and our world; in Ethiopia, Uganda, Cambodia, Iraq… you get the picture. So when we look closer at our model of church partnerships, we must do so through this lens, striving with each effort to put into action Christ’s call for His followers to be salt and light.

We deeply desire that our international and US church partners will unite in purging evil from our midst and nourishing righteousness. We pray that as partners, they will join together in the common cause of the Gospel, reaching out to their communities to ease pain and shine the light of Christ’s love. The cool part is, as partners, they are able to influence their own communities and each other, further impacting our world and culture as a whole. The reach of partnership is so much farther than when we try to work alone!

Foundation of Partnership

As the Director of Church Partnership Mobilization for World Orphans, one of the best parts of my job is reading feedback from our short-term trips. Just as two are called partners when they dance the tango together, so partnership is personified when our US churches visit our international churches. This is when they get to fellowship, serve together and teach each other -- to be salt and light together. So naturally, hearing from them after their trips about the impact of these partnerships is most encouraging.

But before we get to the salting and light-shining part, I want to share a few testimonies of how vital this foundation of partnership is…

“The US Partner visit was really a blessing to us the host Church, the Orphan Home and the Community at large. It worked to strengthen our relationship and gave us the opportunity to serve each other.” Pastor Sam, Uganda

When we arrived in Haiti, we went to the guesthouse planning on relaxing and getting acclimated to our surroundings.  However, the OVC team and pastors from church came to greet us at the guesthouse.  It really meant a lot to us that they would all come to see us so soon.  They were excited to see us… The warm welcome was unexpected and appreciated.  We felt appreciated and valued because of their eagerness to engage with us.  The meeting set the tone for the coming week.” –US Team Leader, Michigan

The presence of our brothers in the E-Free Church Gaylord USA, was something very special and it exceeded our expectations. I think we clearly notice the advantage that two churches are allied and united in preaching the gospel. During the visit we felt very supported and with the certainty that we have support from another church in the same task, that is, to win souls for Christ.” Pastor Heyler, Nicaragua

Salty, Light-Shining Partnership

Just like the great duo of Tom and Jerry (whether your preference is cartoons or ice cream), I believe that these churches are better together. When they speak of the impact of their partnership, the resounding fact that they are indeed the salt of the earth and light of the world shines through. Take a look at what has happened this year as a result of the church living out this great call of Christ.

“One story [from the trip] that was powerful involves a young man named Pius who has lived 18 years with a club foot. His mother, Helen, is a mama and a church leader. Through connections with a nurse [at the guesthouse where we stay when we visit], we were able to get Pius enrolled in a program that will allow him to have surgery to correct his foot at no cost to his family or the ministry. They are waiting until a break in the school semester, but he should have the surgery before the end of this year.” –US Pastor, Arkansas

“The two Sunday services were a great blessing. Pastor/Bishop Kawa and the team served along side us very well…. We had two-day medical camp where reach some over 300 patients who were evangelized, prayed for and treated for different ailments.” -Bishop Julius, Kenya

“We also had a Pastors and Leaders’ Conference in which over 300 Leaders attended from various Churches in Jinja and beyond. We had a Medical Camp Outreach for 3 days and over 800 people were given free treatment and about 300 tested for HIV/AIDS. We also had an Official Launch of our Christian School and about 1000 people attended including Government Officials.” –Pastor Sam, Uganda

“…the Little Lambs Baskets provided a relational break through that [the international staff] could continue to build on. The ladies on our team got to visit Kurdish women in their homes and pray for them. These women are living very restricted lives under Islamic tradition. To show them love and spend time with them is critical to forming meaningful relationships. Several have and several are close to putting their trust in Jesus.” – US Pastor, Texas

I never get sick of reading about these trips. You see, all year long these partners pray for each other and support each other from afar, and then once a year they come together to serve and actively engage together in ministering the Gospel. This time together has very tangible moments of salting people and communities with the life-giving, disease stopping love of Christ and shining the light of His love in dark, hopeless places, just as Christ calls us in Matthew 5. And the interesting part is, it challenges and encourages each partner to continue doing so as they say “see you later” and live in their individual communities the remainder of the year. The church doing exactly what the church is meant to do, in their communities, in our culture and around the world.

It was said of the great partnership of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis: “Although there had been a number of hugely successful film teams before, Martin and Lewis were a new kind of team. The fun they had together set them apart from everything else being done at the time. Both were talented entertainers, but the fact that they were such good friends on and off stage took their act to a new level.”

Our hope, as World Orphans continues to partner churches and plan partner visits, is to foster and encourage deep, lasting friendship within the church across borders and that this friendship would multiply the success of the global church in salting this world with the Gospel and hope of Christ – just as Jesus encouraged years ago.

Are you interested in learning how your church can become a church partner? (Email Kevin at kevin@worldorphans.org)

How are you salt and light within your circles of influence?

We’d love to here from you!

Be Salt,