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Community Development

“BELT equips people with a framework to understand and apply the whole Bible to the whole of life.” – Pastor Mike Huckins

The gospel is both spiritual and practical. The quality of our love for God is reflected in how well we love our neighbor. Community development works towards change through improved relationships with God, self, and others as the dignity of each individual made in the image of God is affirmed.   As community members come together and are empowered to consider, manage, implement and evaluate their own development, they can then become agents of change to common problems for other communities as God’s kingdom emerges.

Guiding Principles

Reconciliation to God: Transformational development is based on loving God and loving one’s neighbor. A first concern is reconciling people to God and connecting them to a fellowship so they can grow in their faith and be renewed in their thinking and be transformed in their motivation and living.

Holistic approach:  Engage in the whole development of a person’s life (based on the model found in Lk 2:52 of intellectual, physical, spiritual and relational development).

Restoration of dignity: To affirm the dignity of individuals, people must work to have their needs met.  Avoid paternalism and creating dependency; rather through instruction, prepare and equip individuals to create. Empower people to do for themselves.

Local ownership: For any project to be sustainable, it must be owned by locals, utilizing their  initiative and local resources. Upon entrance into a community, look for a man or woman of peace which will begin to open the door to cultivate community-wide relationships as well as long-lasting and impacting development. After securing local participation, assistance can be given in assessing their needs, identifying resources, and in organizing for action through training and consultation.

Long-term solutions: Focus on development rather than relief; prevention rather than cure.  Partner with the community, churches and organizations to find long-term solutions that break the cycle of poverty and disease.

Felt needs: Adapt to local needs identified by the community.   Consider Dream Mapping (create a map of the community, and have the community dream with God, and through the Holy Spirit’s stirring, identify felt needs not based on anyone’s preconceived values or desires.)

The development continuum:  Uncover and align with what God has already been speaking and doing in the community.  Have the goal of good investigation and build on what the people already have and know.  Align with the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to find your role to partner with the community.

Multiplication: Development is effective when local people are using, teaching, and multiplying to other communities that are then doing the same.  Train people to train people through transferable concepts.Transformation and awakening are the fruit of local development expanding outwards.

Source: Community Health Evangelism

Tools

The concept of the rocket stove is to eliminate harmful carcinogenic smoke in the home, thereby eliminating smokers cough and lung disease, by replacing the open fire. It also reduces the demand for firewood harvesting, utilizing smaller branches and twigs, and produces cooked food quicker and much more efficiently.

A basic water filtration system constructed from local materials is useful for treating dirty, contaminated water to make it safe for drinking. This reduces the number of water-born diseases which is a leading cause of death in developing countries.

Sanitation is the effective use of tools and actions that keep our environment healthy. These include toilets to manage waste (see VIP Latrine), refuse/trash pits, home sanitation, and safe drinking water (see also Barrel Filtration). For children under five, water and sanitation-related diseases are one of the leading causes of death.

Hygiene is a set of personal practices that contribute to good health. It includes things like hand-washing, bathing and cutting hair/nails. Hand-washing is the single most important activity we can do to discourage the spread of disease.

Nutrition is the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Good nutrition – an adequate, well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity – is a cornerstone of good health. Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.

“Make a commitment to serve the needs of the ‘least of these’ and give voice to the voiceless.”

― Artika Tyner