Core Value: Long-Term Solutions

By John Payne, M.D.
Global CHE Network Representative Council Member

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In the late 1980s villagers in central Zaire (now D. R. Congo) came to Medical Ambassadors missionaries asking if the missionaries would teach them how they could help themselves. They had seen missions come, do good things for people, and leave. When the missionaries left, all the good things left with them.

The Medical Ambassadors missionaries suggested a 2-point solution

  1. Local people needed to be in charge – to set their own priorities and to use their own resources.
  2. The Gospel needed to be preached—service to God would put the goals into focus and provide the power to achieve them.

The villagers liked the idea. They chose their leaders; the leaders chose the community goals– sanitation, water purification, and agricultural advancement. They chose volunteers and trained them to reach these goals, all the while sharing Jesus’ teaching of loving their neighbors as themselves. These volunteers then went hut to hut, spreading what they had learned. Within a year, the results were so evident – healthier children, cleaner streets, happier people – that neighboring villages started asking if they could be trained too. By 1997, the one village using the CHE strategy had become 56 thriving villages.

But could such growth be sustainable? Civil war broke out and all the missionaries were evacuated. For four years, Medical Ambassadors was without contact with these communities, aside from being able to send a small amount to money to the trainers. At the end of these four years Medical Ambassadors revisited to discover that 56 villages had become 113 villages using CHE strategy. Malnutrition and infant mortality rates had been cut in half. Bible study, prayer, evangelism, and church giving suggested the spiritual maturity of the new believers to be the best outside evaluators had ever seen.

Since CHE was introduced to this region, outside missionaries have since been sent elsewhere. Aside from small amounts of outside funding, the locals of central Zaire have been equipped to find and sustain their own long-term solutions. Today, nearly 700 villages in that area are proving the effectiveness and longevity of CHE strategy. This is the power of local leadership equipped with the remarkable strength of the Holy Spirit.

 

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Dr. John Payne is a physician who served in the field of family medicine for many years before becoming a missionary. Since 2005, he has worked with Medical Ambassadors International: first, as Regional Coordinator for in East Africa and now as President/CEO. John and his wife Madelle work hand-in-hand at Medical Ambassadors; their two children and four grandchildren serve the Lord in various ways across the world.

Representative Council Posts: Dayo Obaweya

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True Transformation in Africa

By Dayo Obaweya

“God has blessed Africa with an abundance of human and material resources.”

I have heard this rhetoric used all around me. Yet, we have not been able to utilize this abundance to bring about transformation. There seemed to be a disconnect between the  resources and the people. This inconsistency brought a swarm of questions that would lead me into a 25-year journey for understanding:

  • What resources does Africa have in common with the rest of the world? How does the rest of the world use its resources differently?
  • What about the beliefs and culture of my people could be responsible for this inconsistency?
  • How might God be leading us to create lasting change?

In my search for answers, I visited several communities to study what resources were available and how those resources were being used. I eventually discovered what I believe to be the root cause of the problem– a separation between the physical and spiritual ministry in most communities.

In the course of the search, God led me to CHE. When I went through CHE’s Training of Trainers, a veil was removed from my sight. This is the tool! I knew I was being called to bring CHE into my community. Immediately, my ministry partners and I began to mobilize people of all kinds to engage their own communities. We engaged not only churches and individuals of influence, but also reached out to marginalized groups like children,  women, and impoverished individuals. Soon, the CHE vision spread surrounding communities.

A recent visit from a partner church in the US helps show how far God has brought our ministry in these communities. Here are some highlights from this trip:

  • The team spent several days with the orphans at City of Refuge Ministries, enjoying arts, games, sports, and bible studies with themuntitled
  • In Avehime, 270 children came to our first Children’s Camp—almost 3 times as many as we expected! Team members led them in both spiritual and physical lessons—from Bible stories and memorization to fitness and music lessons.
  • Many of the mothers of these children were led through Women’s Cycle of Life training and were taught some basics of business and accounting.
  • In Kotokor, the team led our interns in lessons about health, sewing, carpentry, and cooking. Moreover, they were taught the importance of living a celibate lifestyle until marriage—this is especially unusual in an area with a 95% teen pregnancy rate.

Through steps like these, our communities began to see true transformation— our available resources were being used produce sustainable change and to build relationships with Jesus.

 

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After being introduced to CHE in 1999, Dayo Obaweya has been working to implement wholistic ministry throughout West Africa. He currently is the Regional Coordinator of Medical Ambassadors International for West Africa.

Learn more about Dayo’s work and impact here.