Tim Keller wrote “Generous Justice” in 2010. He speaks there about John Perkins’ strategy for rebuilding poor communities (Perkins has been a leader in community development and racial reconciliation for many years in the USA). I think the principle he articulates from John Perkins is so important for a vital, cross cultural, gospel-shaped ministry of healing. Keller writes, “In both private charity and government agencies, many of the providers are of a different race than the care receivers. While Perkins insisted that leadership for development be based in poor communities, he also ‘invited outsiders [usually Anglo] to play a critical role in fostering indigenous leadership.’ He did this while many civil rights organizations ‘often radicalized and politicized the role of the outsider at the expense of people in poor communities.’
“These two factors — inviting outsiders to play a role along with insisting that the residents of poor communities be empowered to control their own destiny — meant that the leadership for the community development had to be multi-ethnic and interracial. It is always much easier for the leaders to be of one race — whether just indigenous members of the community or only professional helpers from outside the neighborhood. But Perkins knew that the combination, if it could be made to work, was powerful. This was one of Perkins’s most important contributions and challenges. What is best for the poor community — a non-paternalistic partnership of people from different races and social locations — was also one of the gifts that the gospel makes possible.”
Keller goes on to explain how the Bible provides ‘deep resources for racial rapprochement,’ since the depiction of creation cuts the nerve of racism — as all human beings are made of ‘one blood.’ “Why did God create only one human being? So that no one can say to a fellow human being: My father was better than yours.” Racism has its roots in the pride and lust for power that arose from man’s sinful attempt to raise the tower of Babel (Genesis 11). And it has its healing in the cross of Christ, with the resultant outpouring of the Holy Spirit to break down the barriers that divide the nations (see the account of Pentecost in Acts 2).
So again we find that a gospel ministry to the brokenhearted is led by a team that is multi-racial and multi-cultural — by grace allowing the gifts of the body to be expressed — and showing the love of Christ to the world.