The transition from relief to development requires patience, wisdom and compassion to overcome the uncertainty of those who have depended on us for their daily needs. When we first approached the Kenyan pastors and local ministry leaders we had partnered with for years, many were skeptical of our new vision and understandably so. For years, we provided them with the necessary food to feed scores of needy children in their schools and community. Now, they were coping with the fact that the food deliveries they depended on would soon stop.
One such leader, Pastor Viterlis Opicha, the overseer of a local school who we began to train in wholistic development candidly shared his opinion: “I did not like these trainings in the beginning, but I realized that they are helping me. From the things I learned, I was able to engage the parents in my school more,” he expressed. However, contrary to his initial reluctance, we could see the vision taking hold when one of Pastor Viterlis’ school classrooms suddenly burned down. Instead of coming to us to fund a new building, as he would have done in the past, he went to the community and asked them to take responsibility. In response to this challenge, the parents responded by raising the funds for building materials and volunteering to rebuild it. “Now, they have participated in building one classroom. The school is no longer my project. I can see the community taking over,” Pastor Viterlis shared with enthusiasm! The transition from dependency to empowerment requires a major and sometimes painful shift in mind-set; however, the fruit that’s born has the power to transform entire communities.