When Pastor Joe Wittwer visited Iglesia Elim in Armenia, El Salvador, he saw the massive needs and wanted to help. He had already formed a close bond with Elim's husband and wife pastoral team, Frank and Paty Ardon. Despite gang warfare in the neighborhood, they were partnering with Compassion International to provide weekly care for more than 300 children and their families.
The burgeoning six-day a week ministry had forced them to add a separate building on the church grounds. But the mortgage wasn't cheap. At $500 a month (on a total mortgage of $18,000), the church was struggling to make ends meet.
A group of women helped offset the costs by making tamales and selling them in town for 25 cents apiece, but that only netted about $140 a month. Joe Wittwer's church, Life Center in Spokane, Washington, wanted to help their new friends in El Salvador, but they weren't sure how.
In the past, the pattern would have been for Wittwer and his church to swoop in and start paying the monthly mortgage, or just write a check for $18,000 to get rid of the mortgage altogether.
But that kind of "help" often ended up having negative unintended consequences. The North American churches, loaded with money, were cast as the saviors or experts sent to rescue the helpless "junior" partners. While this approach might solve a short-term problem, it rarely produced long-term solutions or fostered healthy relationships.
Now, a "Church to Church" (C2C) initiative, developed by Compassion International and the Willow Creek Association (WCA), is attempting to help churches avoid these past pitfalls by promoting genuine cross-cultural church partnerships.
C2C is simple: Compassion International matches a WCA church from North America with a church that's ...