Ask everyone to share a few sentences about the organisation which they found and how it brings long-term change.
Questions to discuss:
Key point: The first person could be a UK donor – mainly dependent on head knowledge; the second a government official or local organisation – with some local knowledge, but not in-depth understanding; the third a community member. Communities are the experts about own their lives. They are the ones who understand and can plan and lead action most effectively. National and international organisations may have useful knowledge to provide support.
Pray that God will speak to us and help us to engage emotionally as we read the passage. Then read the passage together.
Questions to discuss:
Key point: God wants people to identify and use their own resources to bring about transformation in our own lives and the life of our community. He takes the little we have and multiplies it beyond what we can imagine when we trust it to him.
Case study: Chachacha Luhanga (a village in Northern Malawi) struggled with filthy water. Without proper wells, diarrhoea and other illnesses were a constant challenge. Eagles showed them how to use participatory activities to prioritise their challenges, identify their resources, plan action and take responsibility for their own development. Not surprisingly, they chose water as their first issue. They knew they could contribute sand, bricks and their own labour to build a borehole, they could not afford the pump. Someone had heard on the radio about an organisation called ‘Wells for Zoe’. Representatives from the village walked to the nearest town to find the office and persuaded Wells for Zoe to provide the pumps, pipes and cement. Now everyone is much healthier, and children get diarrhoea much more rarely.
Yet the biggest transformation is that the community realised God had given them the creativity and resources to improve their own future and that they did not need to be dependent on others.
The chief said: “In the past, we used to hope some NGO or politician would come to help us. Now we just meet as a community, decide what we need to do, and do it… In the future, our village will be so advanced! If you depend on organisations, they come and they go, but if you are self-reliant, you develop yourselves.”
Other community members agreed: “If [‘Wells for Zoe’] had just come here to build us a well, people’s commitment would not have been there. It was because we identified the problem and approached them that we were all so committed to the work. One pump was damaged by thieves, and the community immediately repaired it by ourselves! We would not have done this if it hadn’t been initiated by us.”. (www.eaglesmalawi.org)
Ellie, Spear coach: “I am a coach on the Spear Programme, a programme that equips and empowers young people (who face barriers of various kinds) to get into work, education or training. We believe that they already hold the answer to problems they face and so use a coaching approach to enable them to discover this. As coaches we ask questions in order to raise awareness and activate responsibility within young people. This helps them realise the abilities and options they already have available – increasing their confidence and breaking patterns of dependency.”
Ask God to reveal any resources that we have not entrusted to him. Reflect on what holds us back from doing so and what the result could be if we took action now. Pray for one another.
This week, find an organisation that works outside the UK that supports vulnerable people by helping them to identify and use their own skills and resources. Remember that taking the time to find effective organisations is an act of love to God and to others.
Preparation for next week: ask everyone to read Nehemiah 3:1-32 and jot down all the different people that became involved and the roles they played.