I spent more than a decade working in international development. In those years, I learned how to help in the developing country context…. and, what can be destructive. Essentially…. in order to do things that improve someone’s life, you do it alongside them… teaching and mentoring in a way that provides sustainable change. Going into a village and building a house or a well [by yourself] is not usually the best way. It may be faster… but if we want to go further, we have to learn how to do things together. What happens when the plumbing goes out? Or the house needs to be maintained? Well, if the community did that project alongside you, they will likely know. If you did it for them, it’s likely they will not know. And it’s not as if you can come back and fix the house or well every time something minor needs to be done. And, people value things more when they have a stake in it (ok, sorry….this is a soap box issue for me). [For more, read When Helping Hurts.]
Leena gets this from a humanitarian and spiritual sense. She can’t always be there to provide food and shelter. But she can help people provide for themselves. Instead of delivering food to villages, she gifts them with goats and teaches the villages how to take care of them and make baby goats. (Have y’all ever held a baby goat? It’s just about the greatest thing ever. Nearly as gratifying as holding a puppy.) Those villages can now buy their own food because they have resources (baby goats) to sell and generate income.
It’s the same spiritually. Once Leena has the opportunity to introduce Christ to a community, she shares who He is and equips people of all ages with Bible School. Bibles are provided. In the local language! She teaches them how to have a relationship with Him. She models prayer and does it alongside them.
And, all of those 60 pastors that I mentioned in a previous post? Well, they live in and are from those local communities. In the case of the local churches, Leena is the outsider. She equips the pastors and congregants to know Him and depend on Him. She knows that He is all we need. And she enables all of those around her to know that truth as well.
Here’s the bottom line: Teach people to fish. We say this all of the time. Let’s do it in every sense of the concept of fishing…..for food, for relationship with Him and for souls.