Session 4 – Locally owned and led
Session 4 – Locally owned and led
Focussing on Matthew 14:13-21 and using discussion, activities and case studies, this session explores the importance of local ownership and leadership in sustainable development.

Key Text: Matthew 14:13-21

Prepare: sealed box with different objects inside (not too obvious) e.g. gravel, flowers, chalk, leaves, coins, pen, soil, stones, bottle tops, string, candle, bottle, seeds etc.

Feedback from Act of Love:

Ask everyone to share a few sentences about the organisation which they found and how it brings long-term change.

Activity: Secret in a Box


  1. Introduce the three characters: the first is internationally travelled; the second has travelled nationally (e.g. in Malawi or any other country); the third has not travelled far from their village.
  2. Hand the sealed box to the one playing the international traveller and ask them to say what is inside without opening it (but they may shake it). Announce how many they identified correctly, but not which ones.
  3. Blindfold the one who has travelled nationally, open the box and allow them to feel the objects. Then ask them to say what they can feel. Announce how many they identified correctly.
  4. Then hand the open box to the ‘community member’ and ask them to list the objects as specifically as possible (i.e. with their colours and other details).

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.

Bible study: The Feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21)

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.


To find out more:

Principles in Practice: Malawi

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.”. (

Principles in Practice: UK

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.”

Act of Love

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.