CRAI

The Gospel was more than words about Jesus, it was something tangible and I was compelled to learn how to make that a more practical reality in all my ministry efforts.

Not long after that first missionary venture, I read where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote,

“All I'm saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow, we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

This thought helped us see that it was through community that our goals could be realized. So, our logo symbolizes that very idea, “we are community.” I resolved to explore various ways in which to empower the marginalized through the development of community or relationships that allow for new networks of purposeful relations. Through faith and integrity, a new life can be realized for any number of people in diverse places with a little effort and a few rules of the road.

I have had another liberating revelation that has set my passion loose to travel down very practical paths. This is what I want to set before you. I will use the basic life cycle of a tree to outline my thoughts, from seed to fruit.

The seed

A tree grows in ways that are holistic and most importantly, sustainable. Sustainability is the real goal. Yet life requires that for a system to continue, it must become self-sustaining within its own environment. With this understanding, sustainable solutions are not always possible. But sometimes they can be developed.

To be clear, we view suitable ministries as those projects that can have sufficient resources organized around them to create a tenable environment. This is the objective of Community Life International Mission Agency (CLIMA; [klee-ma]). It should not matter whether the project in question is domestic or foreign or a combination thereof. We believe we can and have already demonstrated the viability of our approach. In Matthew 13:18-23, Jesus explains the meaning of the Parable of the Sower in which the seed, as the Word of God, is spread over differing soils or contexts of life. There are corresponding results for each soil condition. In picturing a favorable environment as “good ground,” exponential growth was a consequence of its ability to thrive within its environment.

a tree thrives, it creates a system of existence that becomes an engine for continuation. It comes alive and seeks to remain alive in the face of denial. The seed is the embodiment of faith and contains all that the tree needs as far as structural potential is concerned. But the tree is put to the test daily. Through good days and bad, the engine resists denial and potential strives to be expressed. You can say that the seed foresees the fruit. What the tree becomes will emerge out of what the seed provides. This is true of the Word of God and it is true of life in general. It is also true of economic engines. There must be a perceived need that embodies the possibility of fulfillment. CLIMA represents that aspect of our work that goes out to serve, to observe, to evaluate potentials and to find a seed of hope. There is “good news” if it can be grasped and believed.

The trunk and roots:

It pictures what Community Resource Associates Inc. (CRAi) does with the seed and soil. It provides viable systems through which resources can be processed for continuance. The roots and the trunk are the engine through which life is sustained. Nutrition from the soil, plus sunlight and water dance together. The systems employed by roots and trunk become a factory for life. The reoccurring routine are its strength to strive and survive. The two systems work in conjunction, synergistically to promote sustainable processes that will ultimately produce a fruit.

On my first missionary journey, in the place where we domiciled, there was a meeting hall. Outside of the hall, was an open space or square. The surrounding forest was dense and the trees extremely tall. There was a tree that had been growing in the shade of taller trees. It’s path of growth was not straight, it grew horizontally in its seeking for direct sunlight, reaching toward the light. Upon reaching a place where it found the sun, it began to grow more directly upward. Every success is neither short nor straight, sometimes angles must be employed. CRAi can identify what angles can be employed to reach success, what processes are sustainable. These are for profit services because again survival requires sustainable resources.

The parable of the Sower assumes that soils are unchanging. This is done because the parable is not about botany, it is about people and what they believe about themselves and the world around them. The parable tells the story of what faith can do when allotted certain conditions. This is a fundamental biblical truth and reality in life, without persistent belief in a goal, it is not likely the goal will be realized. In Genesis 1:28, the first instruction God gave to Adam and Eve was to “be fruitful and multiply.” Dr. John Kenney of Virginia Union University, best explains the text’s meaning saying,

“Fruitfulness is breathing life and offering light to those places where the powers of death and darkness have staked a claim. ‘Be fruitful’ is the original command and you shall be known by your fruit. Fruitful existence will enable creatures claiming and celebrating the image of God to move into “dying” communities, relationships and people and release life to bring forth life.” Living for Giving

The limbs, leaves and fruit:

In the final phase, we aim for fruit as evidence of the success of both the initial vision and the structures put in place for their emergence. The seed foresees the fruit and the root and trunk are designed for the manifestation of that fruit. Success should appear progressively.

Our logo comes from the Soursop (Graviola) Tree. It was chosen because it reflects the characteristics described above. It is predictable, hardy in its ability to thrive in challenging environments. It can be easily cultivated. It produces beautiful blooms and a succulent tasty fruit. The fruit grows large, up to a foot (.305 m) in length with many seeds inside. Its leaves have healing properties for human life and therefore reflects all that our ambitions entail. To fulfill our motto; “what’s good for everybody, is good for everybody.” This is realizing the tangibility that the Kingdom embodies, good news for all.

How will we accomplish these things?

• Communicate effectively the Community Life international vision of missional values and our approach to coordinate and facilitate development processes towards the well-being of the communities involved.

• Understand the social networks involved, including the functions of various stakeholders and the power dynamics involved. To become instrumental in recognizing potential partnerships for capacity building.

• Build strong and diverse relationships within partner communities, actively learning and understanding their realities.

• Facilitate community organization to network and connect with relevant stakeholders and partners in an integrated and efficient manner.

• Contextualize the roles of Churches in transformational community development.

Our Partners with Community Life International M. A.:

* Missions Sustainability in Africa, NGO

* The North American School of Theology of Knoxville, TN

* The Scholarship, Apologetics, Fellowship and Evangelism (SAFE) Conference

* The Tennessee Missionary and Educational Baptist Convention

* jRand Travel Agency

* Beyond Now Inc. a youth mentorship program

Our Community Resource Associate Partners:

* Beyond Benefits Insurance Co.

* Raines Accounting

* BMI & Associates, LLC

* Pure One Environmental, Inc.

* Keffi Risk Management; Financial Consultants

* Direct – Action – Research – Training (DART)

* Dr. Imani Kai Johnson, PhD. (Editorial Consultation) University California at Riverside, CA

* Dr. T. Hasan Johnson, PhD. (Internet Technical Consultation) University California at Fresno, CA

* By His Power Ministries, Marketing Development

* Smartnet; Project Management Consultation

Our most staunch supporters:

* The Bethel District Baptist Missionary and Educational Association

* Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, Johnson City, TN

* Castles of Choice, Knoxville, TN

* Dr. & Mrs. Randy Huffines, DDS

* Dr. & Mrs. Calvin J. Johnson, MD

* Oak Valley Missionary Baptist Church, Oakridge, TN

* Dr. & Mrs. Hardil Thomas, D. Min, EDD

* Rev. & Mrs. Archie Smart

* Rev. & Mrs. Marc Aples

Some organizations we work with:

* Dream Academy, Public Charter School, Knoxville, TN

* Help Undiagnosed Children Foundation, Arcadia, CA

* Kapsowar Missionary Hospital, Kapsowar, Kenya

* Kabarak University, Kenya

* NASOT: The National Baptist Convention, Kenya

* NASOT: The National Baptist Convention, Uganda

* Philippi Missionary Baptist Church, Elizabethton, TN; Food Pantry