Petros Network’s co-founder Ray Noah coined the phrase Redemptive Lift to describe the transformation we were witnessing in East Africa after equipping and sending Missionary Church Planters to share the Gospel in unreached villages.
Our original vision was to plant 10,000 churches and see 1 million people accept Jesus as their Savior in Ethiopia. At the core of our vision was the belief the local church was and is the hope of the world and the conduit for the blessing within a village. We expected the blessing, but shamefully, the impact of the gospel was greater than we had estimated. In fact, the impact was phenomenal in multiple streams as the Redemptive Lift of the gospel flowed from person to person and through the community.
Redemptive Lift — Spiritual, Social, Economic
Redemptive Lift includes three critical streams of holistic transformation — spiritual, social, and economic.
- Spiritual involves a person’s reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). This was initiated by a trained missionary church planter sent to an unreached community. Through prayer, healings and miracles, people are added to the church and a faith community is established.
- Social includes the Christ-follower living out all that God commanded and bearing the fruit of the Spirit-filled life (Matthew 28:20). The community witnesses the transformed lives of the Christ-followers (those added to the church) and is impacted by the living example of the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Unity begins to form in the community and conflict is reduced as people learn to work together in love.
- Economic includes the Christ-follower living as a conduit of blessing to their world (Genesis 12:1-3). Psalm 133 says that where there is unity, God commands his blessing. Petros Network came alongside these leaders and communities to support with leadership, life skill training, and some minor funding. However, when a community aligns themselves with the practices and principles of Jesus and begins to live that out in practical ways, what results cannot be credited to human means. The outcome is nothing but divine.
Our Story of Redemptive Lift
Petros Network started small in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia. A few simple and imperfect men and women were equipped as missionary church planters and sent into rural villages to share the Good News of Jesus.  After a few months, we would return to the area to encourage the missionary church planters, train them some more, and send them out again.
Miracles, Healings, and Transformation
On each visit, their stories were remarkable. We would listen to testimonies of miracles, healings, deliverance from demon possession, and the dead raised. Followed by stories of social and economic transformation in their villages as people lived out the Gospel. Husbands were staying with their wives or marrying only one wife. Switches used to whip the children into submission were no longer present. Shops began to expand in the marketplace. Where there had been reports of uprisings, violent crimes, and horrendous cultural practices, leaders told us peace and prosperity were moving across the land. Furthermore, the church planters credited when the Good News of Jesus came to a village, everything in the community improved for the better.
A common saying, “a rising tide lifts all boats” became our truth in the villages. For instance, even non-Christians were lifted by the message and activities of redemption. The Gospel became the conduit of Redemptive Lift for all the people regardless of gender, tribe, or religion.
Missionary Church Planter = Transformational Leader
Missionary Church Planters slowly became respected leaders in the community. As they shared about obeying the commandments of Jesus, they also began leading movements of “good” in the community. As the impact of Redemptive Lift continued to soar, they became known as agents of change. Missionary Church Planter became synonymous with Transformational Community Leader.
Petros Network continued to equip these devoted missionary church planters, and faith communities began to multiply, becoming central to the spiritual, social, and economic lift of their villages. Missionary church planters didn’t set out to become social reformers; they just loved and cared for the people and directed them to Jesus. They led with a focus on restoring souls and discovered they were part of God’s divine plan for renewing the world.
Redemptive Lift Supported By Research
In 2012, after decades of research, Robert Woodberry published in the American Political Science Review statistical proof of the impact of missionary church planters on a nation’s health throughout the ages. The article, The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy, brilliantly defended his thesis:
“The work of conversionary Protestants (missionary church planters) was the single largest impact in ensuring the social and economic health of nations. Furthermore, (They were the) “crucial catalyst, initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, and colonial reforms, creating the conditions that stabilized democracy.”
Since being published, Woodberry’s ground-breaking work has won four major awards, including the prestigious Luebbert Article Award for best article in comparative politics.
Missionaries, a Significant Presence for Change
A few years later, Christianity Today published The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries, summarizing and drawing attention to Woodberry’s research:
“Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.”
Missionaries didn’t set out to change history, but they did! Woodberry’s work undeniably supports the spiritual, social, and economic impact of the Gospel. And, the results of Petros Network’s primary mission, “Creating Redemptive Lift.”
Redemptive Lift in the Bible
In the Old Testament (Genesis 17), God made three promises to Abraham if he and his descendants obeyed God. He promised he would bless him with the promises of land, fruitfulness, and blessings unto the world. If Abraham obeyed God he would redeem him and lift him so that all the world could see and God could be glorified. Furthermore, this same theme is continued in the New Testament when Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10). In other words, there is a promised impact of the Gospel, a Redemptive Lift. Elmer Towns in the Practical Encyclopedia of Evangelism and Church Growth describes Redemptive Lift well as:
“A phenomenon that occurs when a person or group becomes Christian (follower of Jesus Christ) and thereby is lifted out of his (its) former environment and separated from it in social and economic respects.”
Redemptive Lift, the impact of the Gospel, is God’s transformational solution for you and for the developing world.