THE INTERNATIONAL TRANSFORMATION NETWORK
A description from excerpts of chapter 18 in Ed Silvoso's book Transformation. Regal Books, Ventura Ca 2007
The International Transformation Network (ITN) is a voluntary association of men and women of faith and good will devoted to nation transformation. Its members are involved in developing transformational models within their spheres of influence to make the world a better place by seeing the will of God done on earth as it is done in heaven already.
One of the pace setting features of this network is the "51 percent circle." This circle is comprised of individuals, corporations and congregations engaged in a process to progressively invest into the community up to 51 percent of their resources to meet societal felt needs including the elimination of systemic poverty. The 51 percent name was chosen to highlight that God is meant to be the majority shareholder.
ITN is a response to the need that Christians need to do more and to intentionally challenge and transform the prevailing self-centered culture. ITN is a definite must for mutual accountability, not just for strategic joint ventures. In a grass-roots effort to combat systems of poverty threatening and/or destroying nations ITN is challenging, inspiring and equipping people to be unashamedly ethical. Its members commit to the following:o To be ethical, operating in the highest integrity to produce and deliver quality products and services.
o To refuse to accept or pay bribes.
o To pay taxes according to the law.
o To pay reasonable salaries and wages.
o To invest in the betterment of the workers and their families.
o To invest generously and sacrificially in the broader community, with the focus on the eradication of systemic poverty.
o To purposefully connect with others to impact the world.
During its International conference in Argentina in October of 2006, the First Lady of Uganda - attending as a guest - shared how her heart is repeatedly broken during times of famine. She described in vivid details scenes of sacks of food supplies-dropped from helicopters chartered by relief agencies-bursting upon impact, forcing the people to forage like animals for comestibles now contaminated with dirt and mud. She explained how rich Africa is in people and in raw materials, yet how undeveloped it remains regarding infrastructure. She closed her speech with a plea: "My people do not need fish. They need to learn how to fish."
Subsequent conversations led to ITN committing to a transformation project in a remote district in Uganda, which is rich in produce but poor in basic infrastructure. Financial pledges and the donation of construction equipment to build roads and to provide training for locals to maintain them and expand an existing medical clinic were made. The establishment of a faith bank for micro-loans was also included. The total cost was subscribed and delivered by ITN members with no strings attached.
ITN members are also engaged in similar initiatives with the same spirit in other nations. These Christians strive to live their lives in a manner that recognizes that God gifted and positioned them to bless others. Is God able to work through business done right, businesses that create jobs, reinvest in communities, and exhibit biblical values within the workplace as well as inside and outside local churches? Absolutely!
At a seminar in a nation rated among the most corrupt in the world, leaders of 47 marketplace groups enthusiastically signed a public pledge that included working in unity for the transformation of the nation, beginning with the corrupt marketplace culture. To that effect they also pledged to pay taxes according to the law and not to take or accept bribes.
Recently, 137 Christian captains of industry with businesses in China met for three days to compare notes and lay the foundation for "spiritual joint ventures." They too climaxed their meeting with a pledge to pay taxes, provide decent salaries, care for their employees and stay away from bribes!
Systemic poverty is the felt need of the world that ITN members feel called to reach with the good news of the Gospel. How long would it take to bring down such deeply entrenched societal evil?
In such a context, it is encouraging to reflect on a similarly rooted systemic evil that in a relatively short time was eradicated: slavery. According to Geraldine Bedell in her book "Make Poverty History" (New York, Penguin Books. 2005): "By the end of the eighteenth century, well over three quarters of the world population was in bondage, subject to various forms of slavery and serfdom. Yet even more astonishing than the extent of slavery was the speed with which it died. By the end of the following century, keeping slaves was officially outlawed almost everywhere. The anti-slavery movement had achieved its goal in little more than one lifetime."
Five factors made this swift elimination of wholesale slavery possible: First, people who did not own slaves spoke out against it. Second, those who could have owned slaves refused to do so. Third, many of those who owned them opted to set them free. Fourth, these three groups coalesced to actively pursue the freedom of slaves among the holdouts, by moral pressure or by outright purchase of them. And fifth, the system collapsed when the antislavery movement's momentum captured the higher moral ground and exposed unashamedly and relentlessly the evil nature of slavery.
In those five steps, there are applicable parallels to how systemic poverty can be eliminated. ITN members and similar groups have already taken the first three steps. The other two will soon follow, and the current globalization works in its favor. It is just a matter of time if we persevere.
The Final Breakthrough
Now that a significant number of leaders have embraced or are aware of the transformational paradigms, we are fast approaching the tipping point in terms of generating and/or accessing substantial resources for the kingdom of God-not just financial ones, but also new ideas, concepts and inventions that can provide a cure for the societal illnesses that feed systemic poverty. This is our greatest opportunity as Christians.
The breakthrough that will make possible the discipling of nations will have five components:
1. Christians who have embraced a transformational lifestyle will be led by God to coalesce in order to develop models of biblically based social entrepreneurship which they will deliver in the name and in the Spirit of Christ, with no strings attached!
2. Christians who have learned how to access the leaves of the Tree of Life will come up with discoveries, inventions and formulas to solve major world problems in at least four areas: energy, commerce, food and medicine. And when they are offered the rewards that such breakthroughs bring, they will astound the world by emulating Christ on a worldwide platform by redirecting that revenue toward entrepreneurial charitable undertakings to uproot systemic evils.
3. Christians called to serve in government with a transformation anointing, either as elected officials or career civil servants, will be entrusted by God with supernatural insights to solve social problems that have baffled world leaders but they will not use the influence resulting from these breakthroughs to lord over others, but to serve them instead.
4. All of the above will take place in the context of extraordinary miracles performed by God through the hands of servant-leaders recognized on account of the anointing and their devotion to and dependence on prayer.
5. God will also provide "human accelerators" by dramatically opening the eyes of highly influential and catalytic leaders, as was the case with Crispus (see Acts 18:8) and Saul of Tarsus (Acts chapter 9) in New Testament times, none of who were on the Church radar.
What these five streams have in common are players who are pure channels for God to bless the world (not just the Church) and the lost (not just believers) through the miraculous meeting of deeply felt needs that will tangibly reveal the majesty, the power and especially the universality of the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the only thing that can help the world believe that God indeed loves every human being on this planet and that He has a plan for their lives here and for eternity through Jesus Christ the savior of the world.