Paradigm Shifts for CHE Ministry in Europe

 

How do the CHE Vision and Values and Values– Long-Term Development, Wholistic Discipleship, Ministry to the Poor and Needy, etc. — translate to the European context?

Watch GCN Representative Council Member Ron Seck‘s workshop on the Paradigm Shifts of CHE Ministry from last year’s Urban Wholistic Community Development Conference in Paris.

To learn more from Ron, read his recent contribution to the CHE Blog on Integration and Wholism.

 

Servant Leadership- Core Value Blog Post

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By Dr. Martine Fristch
Global CHE Network Representative Council Member

Community Health Evangelism seeks to encourage Christ-like servant leadership. Servant leadership is a timeless concept found in throughout religious texts and leadership literature alike.  But Christ-like servant leadership is set apart. Christ is the wisest, most profound teacher to have walked the earth. At the same time, He is the humble, approachable friend of ordinary and poor people— those we meet in CHE ministry.

Jesus gave us this principle for leadership: “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty (Matt 23: 11-12, The Message)

To Jesus, a person’s leadership is not defined by his position or power, but by his willingness to serve. He inspired people to volunteer their time and energy for something they believe in. He counted those who did so as leaders in His “upside-down” Kingdom.  Hundreds of CHE Volunteers around the world are those leaders in their community, visiting and serving their neighbouring homes to bring healing, education and making God known.

The practices and principles of Jesus apply to all forms of leadership– from informal leadership in the home to the leadership in the communities, in workplace, in government, education, health, etc. No person, vocation, or role is outside the scope of Jesus’ example in leadership. 

Moreover, Jesus empowers ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  He came to liberate people by calling them to be who they were created to be. He models and teaches how to address practically the big universal questions:  What is the purpose of the world? What’s wrong with it? How can we be part of making it right? He changes forever those who encounter Him as Savior and Redeemer and He lives on in the lives of His followers through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit abiding in them.

Jesus began a movement like no other– a movement still going strong two thousand years later, a movement of disciples who love and serve God and others.  CHE ministry to the whole person in a variety of religious settings and throughout the world is part of this movement.

Jesus is the ultimate servant and, therefore, the ultimate leader.

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Dr. Martine Fristch served with her husband Jean-Marc for 30 years in Africa working in church planting and disciple-making movements integrated with Community Health among unreached people groups.  Since 2013, she serves as Global Integral Community Health (ICH) Promoter with Healthcare Christian Fellowship International. Martine and her husband are based in France, they have 2 adult daughters and one grand-child.

 

 

CHE Core Values: Participatory Learning

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By Dr. Hugo Gomez

“When medical professionals de-professionalize, health comes to the people.” These are the words of David Werner—globally recognized pioneer in primary health care and community health. Allow me to repurpose his words: “When educators de-professionalize, knowledge comes to the people.”

Professionals often tend towards either a conventional or progressive philosophy. Conventional educators seek to conform; Progressive educators seek to reform. Both of these approaches fall short: the first can lead to dependency, the second to anarchy. Let us instead pursue a third option, not to conform or reform, but to transform.

Transformational teaching requires that we stop trying to talk at people and start talking with them. Werner says, “To teach is to help others grow, and to grow with them. A good teacher is not someone who puts ideas into other people’s heads… but instead helps others build on their own ideas.” At some point in history, the church traded this participatory learning for impersonal, oratory teaching. At this point, the church lost its focus on the practical engagement with Biblical truth.

Let us return to the way of Christ, who invited his disciples to walk alongside him for three years, who challenged the assumptions and false beliefs of the public, who answered the questions of both outcasts and elites, who preached the news of a kingdom that involves every area of life, who trusted his followers to spread the Gospel and build his church. Christ’s primary goal as a teacher was not to conform or to reform; his mission was to transform citizens of earth into citizens of heaven.

Christ’s model of a “Good Teacher” is the foundation for the CHE Core Value of Participatory Learning. To better understand how the CHE Network describes this approach for transformational teaching, read more about the “LePSAS” model. LePSAS is an informal, inductive, participatory, dynamic, all-inclusive style that has brought Shalom into many communities.

Let me close with the words of John Mackay: “When the representatives of Christianity in Latin America would go out to the open field and introduce their faith in such a way that will appeal to the common man, a new day will dawn in the history of the continent”.

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Dr. Hugo Gomez is the Co-Founder and CEO of Global CHE Enterprises (GCE)– an organization multiplying CHE programs throughout Meso-America. GCE has planted 32 new churches, and have seen more than 1,500 people come to faith in Christ. Hugo and his wife Miriam are parents to 4 grown children.

 

The Great Commandment and the Great Commission

Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. He proclaimed forgiveness of sins and eternal life through faith in His name. He also brought good news to the poor, recovery of sight for the blind, freedom for prisoners, and release for the oppressed. Followers of Jesus cannot separate evangelism from social action, righteousness from justice, faith from repentance, or concern for the salvation of souls from concern for those who suffer.

Jesus commanded us to love God and our neighbor. This is the great commandment. He illustrated love for neighbor with the story of a man who overcame his fear and prejudice to save the life of a stranger who had been beaten and left for dead.  Jesus also commanded his followers to proclaim the good news of salvation through faith in Christ, and to make disciples of all nations. This is the great commission. Our responsibility is not to choose which of Jesus’ commands is most important, but to commit to obey everything Jesus commanded. 

If the tendency of the last generation of evangelicals was to neglect the great commandment to give priority to evangelism, this next generation might be tempted to neglect the great commission while giving priority to the great commandment. In today’s postmodern culture, it is perfectly acceptable to serve the community but religious views are, and must remain, a private and relative matter.

As the pendulum swings one way and then the other, our challenge is to hold to the middle, and make it our aim to be faithful to everything Jesus commanded.

A Thanksgiving Blessing for those who Hurt

I was reading of Jesus walking on the water in the Gospel of John this morning, and my eye caught a phrase I hadn’t noticed before. John says “Then some boats for Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.” (John 6:23). The people’s recollection of the feeding of the five thousand was not that Jesus asked the Father to multiply the loaves and fishes, but that He gave thanks for the little bread they had before they ate. The people remembered the thanksgiving as the time of provision.  

Thanksgiving is an expression of trust. It not only looks backward to what God has done, but forward to what he will do. Gratitude recognizes God as the giver of every good gift, and rests with joy and peace knowing that his past gifts are proof of his present love as well as His future provision. When the good things in our life seem small and the problems look big, that is the time more than any other that we need to give thanks.

There are many who experience the Thanksgiving holiday with a great sense of loss,  grieving separation from loved ones through death or alienation or lacking the abundance that the day symbolizes.

Here’s the point: Jesus was experiencing life that way when He gave thanks and broke bread. Angry Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were plotting to kill him (John 5:16-18); his half brothers wished harm on him and were about to encourage him to go to Jerusalem where they knew the Jewish leaders laid wait (John 7:1-5); He did not have enough food to feed the crowd gathered at his table.

Still He gave thanks.

Jesus connects the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand to a promise when He says “I am the bread of life”. Jesus is our one essential for life and well-being. We will still struggle against the torrents of the storm that threatens to consume us, but we know that He can calm the storm and take us safely to shore.

The Lord’s supper is often called the Eucharist, a time for thanksgiving. It is a memorial to what Jesus, the bread of life, has done for us. It is a symbol of his presence with us, and a promise that we will eat with him at a table he is preparing for us in the new earth.

 Perhaps you find yourself where Jesus was today: rejected by those you love, lacking abundance of food, isolated, or hurting. This day is an opportunity for you to be like Jesus and give thanks for the little that you have. God will honor that trust, give you His presence, and walk with you into the future.

Evangelism in the Context of Love and Good Works

Many evangelicals view evangelism as a rational process. Believers make truth claims. Hearers consider those truth claims and make a decision to believe or reject them.  Working from that assumption, the command to make disciples is a command to teach and preach the truth.

Jonah Lehrer in his book “How We Decide” argues from neuroscience that the decisions we make are a blend of both feeling and reason. In an interview, Lehrer says, “For the first time in human history, we can look inside our mind and see how we actually think. It turns out that we weren’t designed to be rational or logical or even particularly deliberate. Instead, our mind holds a messy network of different areas, many of which are involved with the production of emotion. Whenever we make a decision, the brain is awash in feeling, driven by its inexplicable passions. Even when we try to be reasonable and restrained, these emotional impulses secretly influence our judgment”.

Researcher John Pijanowski at the University of Arkansas developed eight stages of decision making Pijanowski (2009, p.7). He describes the first stage as “establishing community: creating and nurturing relationships, norms, and procedures that will influence how problems are understood and communicated. This stage takes place prior to and during a moral dilemma”. In other words, the first stage of the decision making process is not intellectual, but relational. In establishing community, we choose who we will trust and what assumptions we will bring to the table.

My intention here is not to delve into psychology or neuroscience, but to raise the question: “Is evangelism an entirely rational process of making truth claims, or is there more to it than that?” What more could there be?

Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). Could it be that our most convincing argument is the quality of our relationships more than the logic of our propositions?

Jesus also said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:18. Could it be that our actions speak louder than words, and that the most convincing argument for faith in Christ might be our charity?

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.