Growing up, whenever I saw homeless people in the streets or pictures of impoverished communities far away, I would alternate between feeling a debilitating helplessness and a strong desire to do something—anything—to “save” these people from their situations.
This year, I took a Community Development School (CDS) at YWAM Lausanne. Community development can be a somewhat ambiguous term. Does it have something to do with installing latrines in a remote mountain village or aquaponics?
I learned that actually community development encompasses much more. The goal of community development from a Biblical perspective is to walk with people in acknowledgment that we are all broken and that together we can grow closer to God and His intentions for the world. It’s a step-by-step process of reconciliation to Christ in all areas of life. In the CDS we examined issues in society like poverty, malnutrition, injustice, abuse of women, etc., but we also dug deeper to discover the root beliefs or systems that lead to these things.
The school also addresses heart attitudes, like do we have an attitude of superiority toward the people we are serving, or are we aware that we are equally in need of God’s restoration? Transformation is a two-way process. It begins with us, so we asked God to reveal lies and broken pieces in our own lives. The process was humbling but good because humility is the best place from which to live.
We studied communities in developing countries as well as urban centers. We learned principles like not doing for others what they can do themselves, taking time to listen and understand, starting everything from a place of intercession and developing the whole person (spiritually, socially, physically and mentally). These principles could apply in a remote mountain village or a local youth group. We also learned how to create and implement projects that can help within the communities we volunteer, becoming a catalyst for change.
But community development is less about a project and more about people. Our role as a facilitator is to invest in people so that they can develop in different areas and have the freedom to make their own choices.
Community development is all about relationships—our relationship with God, ourselves, others and creation. As we discover the truth about these relationships and God brings healing, we can walk in more freedom and bring hope to our communities.
Now, I go into outreaches or relief work with a different perspective, more aware of underlying issues that produce the outcomes I see in society. And I remember that the only Savior I point people to is the same one who continues to transform me—Jesus.
Samatha, (Texas, USA) Recently completed her CDS and is now on staff here at YWAM Lausanne.
Interested in joining us for the Community Development School in 2019? Inquire now!