People are what matter. This is a constant refrain I repeat to myself over and over, because it so easily gets lost. As we embark upon this enterprise to plant Reformed churches in Malawi through the Malawi Reformation Network, this refrain must keep echoing in our thoughts and it must inform our actions. All this effort, all this leading, all this doing is for naught, if it does not serve people—God’s people. In fact, as we labor in the church, all the programs, all the meetings, all the ministries mean nothing if they aren’t serving God’s people.
This often gets lost. It is subtle, but suddenly the work we do becomes about the work itself. We promote this or that ministry because we want to see it continue. We obsess over numbers, the focus becomes meeting the budget, and maintaining the institution. But those things only matter if they serve God’s people.
Nehemiah’s wall campaign in Jerusalem is one the great encouragements to me in Scripture along these lines. Building programs notoriously become all consuming. People and money became a means to serving the vision instead of the vision serving the people. Nehemiah could have lost sight of what mattered, but he didn’t. In his mind, the wall only mattered because people mattered. And this led to faithful labor and a right focus.
People are the only things in this world that last. So, we invest in people. We need programs, we need buildings, we need budgets, but they are all to serve people— not the other way around. People will live for all of eternity. Walls, buildings, and even new “networks” won’t.
Why are we so concerned to affect people? Because we want to see people freed to worship the living and true God? This is what ultimately matters. As Nehemiah rebuilt the walls in Jerusalem, he did so to provide safety and security for the people. The wall was not an end, but rather a means to free up God’s people to more fully worship the living God.
His was not a social-program, but was a worship-program. And so it is with the work of the Church. And so it is with the Malawi Reformation Network. This vision has been launched in order to minister to people, so that people might worship God.
Pastor Jason Helopoulos