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‘Have you understood all these things [in the lessons of the parables]?’ They said to Jesus, ‘Yes’. He said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things that are new and fresh and things that are old and familiar’ (Matt 13:51-52 Amplified).
Life in our precarious, often perilous, yet precious world is tough. As people of faith or of no particular faith, we are all subject to the maims and moans of fallen creation. At the same time, we as believers are called to rest in Christ’s reconciliation and renewal of all things in heaven and earth (Col 1:20). And we await and yearn for our full adoption as the children of God (Rom 8:18-25).
For the last ten years we have been working increasingly across sectors (humanitarian, health, development, United Nations) as psychologists in mission. Central to our work has been a simple, strategic framework which we call Global Integration (GI).
GI is a framework for engaging actively and responsibly with our world, locally through globally, for God’s glory. We seek to ‘integrate’ our lives by connecting relationally and contributing relevantly on behalf of human wellbeing and the issues facing humanity, finding common ground for the common good, linking new and old ‘treasures’ (resources and directions) for sharing the good news and our good works, and doing so in light of our integrity, commitments, and core values (eg ethical, humanitarian, human rights, faith-based). GI is thus a mindset and a skillset, a perspective and a practice, for how we live and work in our world as followers of Christ.
We discuss GI below in terms of three directions for following Jesus globally: Humanity Care, Global Integrity and Global Integrators. How can these GI directions apply to the church-mission community, your organization, and you personally?
‘We must recognize that in some fundamental ways, our world is going backwards. More countries are experiencing violent conflict than at any time in nearly three decades. . . . Record numbers of people are on the move, displaced by violence, war and persecution. We see horrific violations of human rights. . . . These are all indications that we need greater unity and courage…to set the world on track to a better future’, said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on 24 April 2018.
There is huge effort underway, spearheaded by the United Nations and many international organizations, to promote sustainable development and wellbeing for all people.  This effort calls upon the world community to change its course drastically and to partner intentionally and accountably in working towards peace, justice, prosperity, and the protection of the planet. As Christians, we have an unprecedented opportunity to get involved globally and to partner with others in such efforts—what we call ‘humanity care’.
Partnering in humanity care is a core part of GI’s emphasis on ‘finding common ground for the common good’; and, just to be clear, underneath our common ground in partnering and many ‘secular’ involvements is the foundational and historical person of Jesus Christ. We thus also acknowledge the underlying reality of God and his redemptive purposes in Jesus Christ in dealing with the undermining reality of evil, sin, and brokenness.
Our humanity care work in mission is based primarily in/from Geneva, a strategic platform for ‘connecting relationally and contributing relevantly’ as emphasized in the GI framework. It includes regular interactions with personnel/events in the United Nations, World Health Organization, international NGOs, and faith-based organizations. Hence there are several materials, perspectives, and news items that we review to inform our work and regularly share with colleagues.
For example, in addition to our monthly Member Care Updates, we regularly send Global Integration Updates to over 1,500 colleagues (some examples/links below). We also host Trio Gatherings in our home for more informal and personal interaction with colleagues across sectors on topics such as integrity, poverty, peace, leadership, and work-life balance. 
Global Integration Updates
We believe that a variety of people must be at the ‘global tables’ and in the ‘global trenches’—and everything in-between—in order to help research, shape, and monitor agendas, policies, and action. That includes people from all countries, sectors, and faith backgrounds, who are informed, skilled, and dedicated to the common good. Here are some suggestions for working across sectors in humanity care, oriented for faith-based colleagues, for your consideration.
Faith is not simply a strategic resource to leverage for our important projects/agendas.
Rather faith is a fundamental reality that underlies all of life, including projects/agendas.
Faith is not merely a component but the core part of one’s life/identity.
So what exactly are some of the coordinated efforts to promote sustainable development and wellbeing for all people and the planet? Chief among these efforts are the UN’s:
We encourage you to familiarize yourself with these efforts, especially the 17 SDGs and their progress reports:
It can feel ‘foreign’ and even overwhelming at first; but be persistent, pace yourself, and explore the SDGs together with others! As Teresa of Avila said, ‘Patience accomplishes all.’
‘Let us strive for a culture of full integrity and transparency. We will choose to walk in the light and truth of God, for the Lord tests the heart and is pleased with integrity.’ Cape Town Commitment (2009), Lausanne Movement.
‘Global Integrity’ (GIn) is a central emphasis and an inseparable core of GI. It involves living consistently and accountably in moral wholeness at all levels: individual, interpersonal, institutional, and international. It means following Jesus resolutely in spite of the consequences, knowing that ‘Popularity contests are not truth contests. . . . Your job is to be true, not popular’ (Luke 6:26, The Message). Kelly’s presentation at the United Nations Geneva during Geneva Peace Week 2018 is a good example of how we highlight and integrate GIn’s main messages into our work: ‘Moral Health for a More Whole World’.
GIn, like GI itself, is not about imposing a moral code on others. Nor is it about setting up a system of global governance, neutralizing national sovereignty, and ushering in an authoritarian world order. Rather it is about fostering moral dialogue, cooperation, and good governance at all levels, from the local to the global. Further, GIn is not about pushing for human homogeneity, cultural conformity, or ethical relativism. Rather it is about living in integrity at all levels by embracing our common humanity, prizing our rich variations, and engendering responsible lifestyles.
Paragraph 53 in the UN Sustainable Development Goals states that ‘The future of humanity and of our planet lies in our hands’ (Transforming Our World, 2015). We understand this sobering comment in terms of the world community’s moral responsibility courageously and wisely to act with integrity, and the dire consequences of inaction or inept action. Furthermore, from our faith-based perspective, our understanding is that humanity and the planet ultimately lie in God’s hands.
So we support human efforts to act with integrity and do good—whether it be alleviating poverty among the one billion urban slum dwellers or protecting the 1.5 billion people living in settings exposed to violence and conflict, for example. We see these efforts as the imago Dei at work within the missio Dei, regardless of whether one believes in these things or not. Humans do good.
However, we think humans do better when they include and honor God in the process. More specifically, we think we can do much better at ‘transforming our world’ if God is included and honored in our efforts and if we start with transformation in our own hearts. The world will not be a sustainably better, transformed place unless better, transformed people of integrity make it so.
In summary, GI is a framework to help us invest in fellow humans in every sphere of influence in which we live. It is a guide and a goad to help us to forge new relationships and pursue new opportunities in addressing major issues affecting our world and especially the church-mission community’s work among unreached peoples. It supports our efforts to be salt and light, to live as global citizens for God’s glory, calling upon our best selves, the common sense of our human belonging, identity, and mutual responsibility.
We finish now with seven practical directions/commitments for GI. We encourage you to join with us as ‘global integrators’ who are committed to following Jesus, bringing together new and old treasures in the service of all people and the planet.
Dr Kelly O’Donnell and Dr Michèle Lewis O’Donnell are consulting psychologists based in Geneva with Member Care Associates (MCA). They focus their work on staff wellbeing and effectiveness, good practice and ethics, global mental health and sustainable development, and unreached peoples. Kelly and Michèle are representatives for the World Federation for Mental Health at the United Nations. Their resources and recent publications are on the MCA website. Email: [email protected]
The Lausanne Movement connects influencers and ideas for global mission, with a vision of the gospel for every person, an evangelical church for every people, Christ-like leaders for every church, and kingdom impact in every sphere of society.
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