Exploring Community Development
As my DTS was drawing to a close, I was asking God what was next. The Community Development Seminar was first mentioned to me on my debrief week. It was referenced as an opportunity for us to be involved in to learn how to develop a community effectively. The whole concept of the Seminar reminded me of what God had originally spoken to me about during GOfest (missions conference).
Throughout the seminar, God highlighted to me that your ‘calling’ is connected to what you’re gifted in. I’ve always wondered what my calling is, and it was helpful to simply make the connection of what I’m good at, and what God has called me to. I have a passion to work with my hands and to create, and building is one of the out-workings of this passion. I have a strong call to pick up my tools and go out into the nations.
The idea that poverty is disempowerment really stuck out for me, and I really began to broaden my thinking. Poverty is something I have witnessed, but during the seminar I gained more understanding on what poverty is from the perspective of someone actually experiencing it. My thinking going into the seminar was that poverty was a lack of possessions. What we explored in class was really that it was so much more than that. It isn’t about the lack of material possessions, but instead about the disempowerment imposed on a community. This topic was really interesting and made me think about my gifting in light of the poverty around the world. I can’t enter a community and start fixing broken things and building new structures just because i think that’s what would be best. The local community wouldn’t want to take any ownership of the work because they had no input and it may not be what the community requires or even wants. People who have been disempowered need empowerment; and this is somewhere God can use me.
The strategy of entering a society as a “learner and a story teller” was revealed to me during the seminar. I began to really see the real importance of having an open mind towards the culture, and how having a solid understanding of their values can have such a big effect on how they embrace you, and how you embrace them. Language is a key way of understanding the cultures and allows them to tell their stories on who they are and where they originate from. It completely gets rid of the language barrier which can seem pretty intense at first. This whole area of discussion was really good for me as it helped me to understand the value of coming under and not over the community. There is a vital need for having the right strategy to bring to a developing and transforming community. Development and transformation is based so much more on relationship than simply completing a task.
The seminar really ‘started the ball rolling’ for me. I feel that God has me in this season of learning and equipping not only for me personally, but how I can show Him to the nations.