I traveled with my wife Michelle to Cambodia in 2016. We visited the town where an organization named Agape is located. Agape rescues formerly trafficked women, helps them find healing, introduces them to Jesus, and gives them job training in a steady, safe employment environment. Michelle’s company employed the women to make a variety of products, paying the women a fair wage.
What I saw in Cambodia is an excellent example of flourishing-producing togetherness. What is flourishing-producing togetherness?
What we learn from Scripture in our previous posts here and here is that culture change requires Flourishing-producing Togetherness.
If we want to create a new culture in which everyone can flourish, we must do so together, in community with one another, learning and following the way of Jesus in our real day-to-day lives.
Scriven says that culture change “is nothing less than the prospect of social change through the witness of small groups—cells of Christians…who by their solidarity with Christ remake the world.”
We create culture together, living like Jesus lived, together. Love is the foundation for Christian communities who want to create new culture.
Christian communities, therefore, do not battle with culture in order to make it great again. Instead Christian communities create new culture, for human flourishing, if they work together, guided by love. That is precisely what I saw Agape doing in Cambodia.
The town where Agape is located used to be a destination for Western men to travel for sex vacations. So many men were coming to town to indulge in evil, that a Cambodian businessman thought he would capitalize on the situation by building a hotel to accommodate the men. During the process of building the hotel, Agape got started in the area, seeking to change the culture. Agape was started and run by Christians working together to pursue God’s heart for justice so that there might be human flourishing. Agape slowly but surely rescued women, helped them find healing, find Jesus, and job training. The culture of the town gradually changed. Brothels went bankrupt. Prostitution dwindled. The man realized he was going to have an empty hotel. He sold it to Agape, and they turned it into a school, church, and other uses.
What about us? How can we work together to change our culture for human flourishing? If you are a part of a church, consider how to apply flourishing-producing togetherness to your small group, to your Sunday School class, to your committee or ministry. We can work together to create new culture no matter where we live. As we conclude, consider these questions:
Are we listening to what is going on in the lives of those we normally see as creating problems. Are we asking questions, listening, learning about them? Or are we assuming we know better and judging them?
Are we looking for ways to show love to them? To walk alongside them? Are we doing that as a group, together? As a community of Jesus followers, wanting to create a new culture in which we live more like Jesus lived?
Can you imagine it? More and more people experiencing the flourishing life of Jesus not only in their own lives, but in church families, and spreading around us ever more in our communities.
 Scriven, Charles. 1988. The Transformation of Culture: Christian Social Ethics After H. Richard Niebuhr. Scottdale, PA, Herald Press. Page 194.
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