Go round in a circle and ask anyone willing to say a few sentences about what they did in response to last week’s session.
What helps bring long-term change in people’s lives, not just meet needs?
Questions to discuss:
Key point: long-term change comes from breaking people’s mindset of dependency so that they can solve problems for themselves. Many organisations work by training communities to solve one specific problem or giving them the solution e.g. training in better farming methods or to dig a well – this is what person 1 represents. They can get across the river once but are stuck when something else happens. Worse, person 2 is like those who are left stranded when the organisation’s money runs out or no sustainable change has been achieved. Person 3 represents an approach where people are equipped to solve problems together and have confidence to face new challenges in future.
Why of these images do you find more helpful? Why?
Activity: pray for God’s Spirit to bring this passage to life and enable us to engage emotionally as we are reading it. Ask someone to read the passage. Then ask two volunteers to perform the radio drama based on the passage.
Questions to discuss:
Case study: The pastor of Nanjiri, central Malawi, after Eagles’ training, determined to fight poverty in his community in a way which brought about self-reliance rather than creating dependency. So he trained people from his congregation (who wanted to start businesses) in budgeting and management. This group started a business together to earn enough capital to enable each of them then to set up on their own. Learning from a man in a neighbouring village, the group began baking buns twice a week in a massive brick oven they constructed. Each time, they make 210, sell them in the market and save all the money. Within a couple of months, they had enough for every member of the group to take a loan to set up their own business.
Every week, the business group give money to support the poorest in the church: the elderly, widows and orphans who cannot care for themselves. Although they all have their own business, they continue baking together purely to provide for these vulnerable groups. Grateful for the way that the business has transformed their lives, the group is eager to serve the community. (www.eaglesmalawi.org).
Paloma, Management Consultant: “We place a huge emphasis on ‘problem-centric’ approaches whenever we’re faced with a project. There can be a real temptation for all of us to jump to ‘solutionising’ without really delving into the root cause. Only by starting with a robust human-centred understanding of the problem can we ensure our solution is fit for purpose and actually addresses what’s not working.”
Peter, Founder of Genesis Trust, an organisation working with the homeless community: “Our aim at the Genesis Trust is to help people to move forwards in their lives. Many of our clients have major issues. Our job is to give them hope for a better future. We are alongside them as they make many small steps. We don’t tell them what to do. They have to decide themselves, and then we help them.”
Think about how and where we give our money to help others. To what extent do these initiatives live out this principle of ensuring long-term change? Pray together, thanking God for his love and his care for the most vulnerable, both physically and spiritually. Ask him for wisdom to show where we might need to change our giving, so we love God with all our heart, soul and mind.
Identify a local organisation that supports vulnerable people to create long-term change in their lives, for example debt counselling, helping the homeless community to find jobs etc. Take action this week to support them in some way yourself (in general, it is much better to help organisations in an ongoing way if you can). Be ready to share a few sentences about their work next session.