8 Takeaways from the Accord Network Conference on Christian Relief and Development | The Best Samaritan with Jamie Aten and Kent Annan

In 1977, a community of “like-minded organizations” first came together in Wheaton, Illinois. They wanted to replace the feeling of competitiveness that prevailed between them with a feeling of collaboration. According to one of the participants, “We wanted to be a brotherhood, a place of brotherhood – to see each other as colleagues – and to benefit from coming together”.

Thus, Accord Network (although it has a different name) was born. They invited additional agencies which were:

  • centered on Christ
  • Professionally and fiduciary responsible
  • Focused on relief and development

Their vision was that “all Christian relief and development professionals and agencies base their initiatives on biblical principles and work to re-engage the Church in holistic ministry among the poor and needy.”

Each year, HDI’s Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership MA students attend Accord’s annual conference to develop their knowledge, relationships, and purpose. We invited a few of them to share their takeaways from the 2022 conference. Their responses show the different speakers and topics that impressed them, as well as the work of the Holy Spirit to personalize the messages for each attendee. .

I have been so encouraged by the open and selfless attitudes that leaders and practitioners in the Christian humanitarian field have in their work. No one seeks their own personal gains or the success of their organization. On the contrary, there was a unified sense of hope, vision and dedication to work. — Clear

I enjoyed listening to Jayakumar Christian speak about a theology of transformation in church life. I was condemned for changing my perspective on humanitarian work; it is not just about building projects, but about serving the poor. We must first change our hearts in order to impact our community. — Morgan

My highlight would be hearing people’s stories and seeing how passionate they are about the work they do. — Kirsten

Leading is at the intersection of humble listening and asking the right questions.

For those with a healthy soul, leading is inevitable, dangerous, and lies at the intersection of humble listening and asking the right questions. Aligning our pace of work with the well-being that comes from a relationship with God provides “soul life,” so that we in turn can be equipped to lead wisely. — Esther

Several things stood out to me the most. First, we need to understand the root cause of poverty, as it is rooted in people’s spirituality. We cannot promise lasting impact without addressing the spirituality in a person. We must also address the worldview of poverty, whether in the political, economic or social space; we cannot isolate spirituality from these factors.

Second, how can I share God’s love between Monday and Saturday if I focus on myself as an individual? God is actively involved in the world he created and is a relational being. How then can you and I bring the message of transformation to the suffering world?

Finally, Dr Birmingham shared that the faith-based sector does not treat talent well and this has caused faith-based talent to move to the circular sector where they are treated better. — Anonymous

Each student took away something different from the conference, but they all came away encouraged and motivated. We are grateful to those who spoke, volunteered and worked behind the scenes to plan and present the event.

As Amanda said:

A big thank you to the Accord Network for its support and encouragement to HDL students. We learn the best practices through our studies and discover how to apply them concretely thanks to the graceful sharing of the experiences of their members.

Dena Dyer is a communications specialist for the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton.

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