Collaboration: The Next Frontier in Missions

By Terry Dalrymple

“The next great frontier in mission is collaboration.
Anything less is arrogance.”
Geordon Rendle, President, Youth For Christ International

We are living in a unique time in history in which we have the ability to connect, communicate, and collaborate globally in ways that were impossible in the past. This opens doors to ministry that are unique to our generation – opportunities that did not exist at any other time in history, but have been entrusted solely to us to steward for God’s glory.

Defining Collaboration

Collaboration can be hard to define. I find it helpful to think about collaboration in terms of different levels of joint action that are all part of the process of collaborating:

  • Networking: Exchanging ideas.
  • Coordination: Exchanging information and linking existing activities to achieve better outcomes.
  • Cooperation: Sharing resources in order to create something new or to achieve a broader impact.
  • Partnership: Working jointly to accomplish a shared vision and mission.

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For our purposes, we will define collaboration as “deliberately working together to accelerate the advance of the Gospel and to accomplish what no one of us could do alone”.

Benefits of Collaboration

Collaboration definitely takes energy and effort, time and resources. Before we will wholeheartedly invest in collaborative efforts, we must be convinced that it will produce a better result. We must answer the question, “Can we do more through collaboration than we can do alone?” Below are some demonstrable benefits of meaningful collaboration:

1.  Strengthening individual ministries and producing better outcomes through:

    1. Sharing information and ideas
    2. Avoiding duplication of effort (reinventing the wheel)
    3. Identifying best practices
    4. Learning from each others mistakes
    5. Sharing staff and expertise

2.  Achieving new things together:

    1. Accelerating work in a geographical area by coordination, cooperation, and partnership.
    2. Strengthening the credibility of our witness through expressions of unity.
    3. Exerting greater influence and mobilizing others to join the cause by speaking with one voice.
    4. Fostering creativity, gaining perspective, and creating joint solutions to achieve important outcomes.

Collaboration is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. In order for collaboration to have the intended result of strengthening our ministries and multiplying our impact, we must seek out collaboration with those who share our core values and a commitment to our cause.

Building Collaboration

How do I go about building meaningful collaboration? Here are some logical steps:

  1. Make yourself visible and promote your vision
  2. Connect with people who share your cause
  3. Exchange ideas and share information
  4. Discover what you can do together that you cannot do alone
  5. Form partnerships and take joint action

Applying what we have learned

If you are reading this blog, it is likely because you are a member of the Global CHE Network and are committed to the wholistic transformation of villages and slums worldwide.

Your Global CHE Network Service Team has been working hard behind the scenes to help facilitate meaningful collaboration between members. We have reached a milestone in that effort.

Early in 2015 we launched a new interactive website that provides opportunities for those who join to make  their ministries visible, connect with people who share their vision and core values, exchange ideas and share information, discover what we can do together, and take joint action.

The new site allows you to build a profile online, promote your ministries, build strategic partnerships, exchange ideas, explore opportunities, gather resources, and even offer your services to others.

Get started collaborating today!  Here is your direct link to the page on the web site where you can register and build a profile of your CHE work.

Marion’s Story: The Wholistic Transformation of a Disabled Women in Sierra Leone

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Marion got polio as a young girl that left her crippled. When her parents talked about the number of children they had, they excluded her. They told her she would never amount to anything and there were no other people with a disability like hers in the village, so she thought she was not human.

At a young age Marion and a friend ran away to Makeni to find a new life. Her friend ended up abandoning her and she was left homeless. Marion begged in the streets, and found a different place to sleep every night. Then she heard about Women of Hope and some of the people she begged with invited her to go with them to a Women of Hope meeting. She discovered that she was not alone, that there were many women who had disabilities like hers.

Marion made friends through Women of Hope, and learned to make greeting cards and sell them through the Fair Trade Initiative. Now she has a house, and she pays the rent herself because her income is larger than her husband’s. Marion was selected by her peers to be trained as a Community Health Evangelist (CHE). In the eight-month training she learned basic community development principles, disease prevention, disability awareness and about her identity in Christ.

Marion’s Thoughts on CHE Training….
The training helped me because it taught me about God. I did not know who God was and that is why I thought I was not a human being, because I didn’t understand that God is a good Creator and made me this way for a purpose. Now I understand that the sickness that crippled me is just a sickness; it wasn’t God cursing me and telling me that I am worthless. I understand that sickness happens, but it doesn’t mean that I am a bad person.

I used to never wash or take care of myself. I neglected my body because I didn’t believe I was worth anything. If you had met me then, you wouldn’t have wanted to sit here and talk to me because I smelled and I was dirty. I learned that I should think better of myself and of other people and not cause trouble. I used to cause trouble because I didn’t care. It used to be that nothing mattered because I wasn’t worth anything anyway. Now I respect others and they show respect back to me.

I never knew that when you come out of the latrine you should wash your hands and I was always sick. Now I will never leave the latrine without washing my hands. I will never touch food if coming from the toilet without washing my hands first. Because I didn’t know about God and how God felt about me, I didn’t take care for myself. I was so dirty that no one would ever think to eat my food. Now I cook for the neighbors and they eat it and are grateful. Before they wouldn’t touch it because I was so dirty they thought they would be contaminated by my food. All of these are changes I have learned from CHE training.

Now I talk to “walkafut” (her term for people without disabilities) and they listen to me. Originally they thought that if your feet were damaged, your brain must also be damaged. Now they stand there and gape at me because I am articulate and know what I am talking about. I am surprising people all the time because I have sense and they thought I didn’t have sense.

My prayer now is that God will give WOH leaders the strength to continue even though it is hard, because the things I am learning are so important and are changing my life and the lives of people around me. I want to learn more. What I am learning I am sharing with other people, and I do not want to give up even though it is hard. I was once in a bad condition and very depressed. I used to pray, “God please take my life”. Now I pray that God will give me longer life so I can serve him and help others.

My real parents died, and I was given over to step-parents. It was hard. Marion started to cry, but through the tears she concluded: God has rescued me because He is my Father.

Fifth Annual North American CHE Network Meeting

We are excited to announce that registration for the fifth annual North American CHE Network Meeting in Louisville, KY on November 6-7, 2013 is open. Network members gather to exchange ideas, encourage and work together to achieve our goals of strengthening our ministries and the expansion of the CHE movement.

Our format will be new this year. We will spend the first day in three working groups aimed at answering the following questions:

  • How can we use CHE to make Public Health a major mission strategy?
  • How can we use Public Health Professionals to strengthen CHE programs?
  • How can GCN members serve each other and still meet organizational goals?
  • What kinds of things keep missionaries from serving each other?
  • What defines whether a community is a CHE community?
  • What prevents organizations with mature CHE programs from serving as mentors to organizations younger in CHE usage?
  • What are the underlying perceptions of disability in your area?
  • How can we mainstream disability in our CHE programs globally?
  • What are the pros & cons of disability-specific vs. disability-integrated programs?
  • How is a wholistic approach key to success in the transformation of people with disabilities?

Please send other questions you would like to suggest for discussion to info@chenetwork.org.

We are praying that the answers will lead to the following outputs:

  • A plan for facilitating internships for public health students in active CHE programs within the network.
  • A plan for introducing CHE as mission strategy through courses offered in Christian Colleges and Universities.
  • A plan for publishing the results of CHE programs in academic journals.
  • Develop a disability-specific worldview assessment tool that could universally be utilized to determine the underlying values informing disability perceptions
  • Develop a customizable strategy for integrating people with disabilities into CHE programs worldwide
  • A commitment among organizational leaders using CHE methodology to be dedicated to the building of God’s kingdom even if their organization does not receive credit or recognition.
  • Clear strategy for unity among CHE practitioners in the field without favoritism or judgment.
  • Commitments among the organizations present to serve as examples and advocates of unity among GCN members in making disciples of Jesus using the CHE strategy.

We will come together on the second day to share our answers and to pray.

No Sacred Secular Divide

Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

Discovering the secrets of God’s universe is sacred work and the glory of kings. Discoveries that build a nation also glorify God who concealed those truths in His creation for us to explore, discover, understand, use, teach, and celebrate. Every discovery that benefits humanity is a revelation of the glory of God.