We recently concluded a 3-day seminar on community development and evangelism with 33 pastors and leaders in Kenya. Sounds boring? Well, if people went home unchanged it would have been. But back in August we had completed a similar seminar, and we had heard some amazing stories of how God had challenged the participants to make real changes. One pastor began teaching parents how to raise rabbits that would generate income to help them pay for their children’s education. Another started a savings group that helps its members raise funds to start small businesses. Yet another was given land by community members to grow food and feed hungry children. These people returned for a second seminar and brought along friends who were equally passionate to see their impoverished communities get better.
One of the first-time participants, Leah, a pastor’s wife, reflected on the teaching: “We have been asking ourselves a question for a long time: Why is it that the people we try to help end up hating us? This week I got the answer — we have been carrying them, when we should have been teaching them.” Leah was the recipient of her community’s resentment for trying to carry people who could walk. Now she is going home with a new goal — instead of doing things that create unhealthy dependencies and resentment, Leah is going to teach her community how to become more independent. Instead of carrying people God has given the strength to walk, she is going to walk with them and show them the way.
Purity, another participant said: “One of the things that really stood out to me was that my community is rich. I may view them as poor, but they are very rich. They have knowledge, they have skills, and they have resources. They have all that they need to solve their problems. They just need someone to trigger them, to provoke the ideas, and I’m sure they’ll be able to solve their problems with what they have.”
In the same way, God is using these biblical lessons to trigger the participants to come up with better approaches to life. We’re confident that many of them will go back home and share the lessons learned. Brian, a first-time attendee explained how he previously had gone about ministry in a conventional way, “but now when I have learned the wholistic way, I am going to apply it,” he says. At the end of the day, we can’t ask for more than that. It’s the application of the gospel — the whole gospel — to our whole lives, and shared with our whole communities that brings genuine, wholistic transformation.