COLUMN: Partnering helps us meet the needs of the community

Friday, June 11, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

Partnering as a part of social development networking is vital to what we do here in Columbia to develop our resources better. Combining our resources to meet human need in the name of Jesus has become a lifestyle of service to the people in our city. We have the potential to link up and tag team with like-minded agencies and churches whose chief goal is to aid in the development of God’s creations who are struggling to function during this uncertain economy. “In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and functions as a part of his body.” The Message Romans 12:4.

I believe we are all connected to each other spiritually, and as a result, we need one another. Partnering needs to be the norm, not the exception, to provide hope to the socioeconomically depressed citizens of our community. We have a great opportunity to put true partnerships into action. “Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 NIV.

As a boy growing up in Detroit, I can recall my neighbors helping us out when we needed a hand, either outside the house or watching us until my parents returned from work. This form of neighborhood partnering was a great asset to those who lived on our city block. We were truly linked to each other, not just in labor, but in the love of God. We are being called to do the same today among those who are providing human services to the poor and the brokenhearted. “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good He does.” Ephesians 6:7-8 NIV.

In providing services in Jesus’ name, we are, in reality, serving Him. How the truth should thrill us. In disguise, the Lord Jesus presents Himself in the plea of the hungry, the sick and the homeless women, children and men. Let’s better develop our partnering and networking like Christ did to meet the needs of our community. Now do not misunderstand me. Partnering is happening, but I think we can do a better job, since our economy has not yet recovered. “Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies.” The Message Philippians 4:9b.

Let’s partner whenever and wherever possible as agencies of societal change offer our skillful, tangible and useful resources to the banqueting table of networking social services. My dad, a wise man, once said, “One hand can not clap by itself — it takes two hands working together to make one united sound.” Forming this type of human service connection has played a vital role for us here in Columbia.  

Linking our hands of service with other social service groups has been one of my top priorities in providing hope to people in need. “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”  The Message John 15:5-8.

Reasons for partnering should be intuitive, but here are some rationales that may not be readily apparent:

  • Social service care is maximized when partnering agencies are unified in restoring, replenishing and rebuilding lives.
  • Organizational service capacity can heighten as you tap into other partnering resources.
  • Interfaith trust can be built among our faith-based communities that lead to strengthening our relationship with God and each other.
  • Partnering delivers results for both parties in their fields of human service.
  • Pooling resources help with cost containment. Dollars can be leveraged and more services can be delivered to people in need.
  • Turf issues can be dealt with in a professional matter which promotes a healthier partnership.
  • Partnering adds strength to the community’s cohesiveness in the social service pool of resources.

This idea of partnering is like the game I played as youngster called “Connecting the Dots.” Now this was a relatively simple game that required good eye-hand coordination and using a pencil to connect the dots. After I connected the dots, a recognizable picture was formed. Partnering is somewhat the same — we connect to each other in an effort to create a tangible, recognizable picture of services that cannot be broken and that will enhance our relationships with those in need. Connecting the dots means working to cultivate a real union and putting that picture of services into action to help meet the social service needs of people throughout mid-Missouri. Pooling our resources and increasing our social service network will indeed yield positive, long-lasting results.

Major K. Kendall Mathews is the regional coordinator for The Salvation Army.

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