June 17, 2014

Healthy Development: Joining God's Work

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Over the past couple months, EduDeo staff have enjoyed going through the video series, “When Helping Hurts: The small group experience.” We wrestle with how the topics influence EduDeo’s involvement in international development.

Today’s topic, “Joining God’s Work” was an exceptionally moving video that led to a deep discussion around ‘healthy development’ and the direction of EduDeo Ministries.

We feel this content is valuable and important.  As a result, we want to share some of the key elements of this video below, focusing on how important our mind-set is when we go into a new place and how important it is to be reminded that we are ALL made in the image of God.

May you be blessed and challenged as you read the below statements made in the video.

Unit 4: Joining God’s Work

"Everyone has something to contribute. No one is so poor that they have nothing to bring to the exchange…We’ve [all] been created in the image of God…with potential, capacities and talents and the design to maximize those to accomplish useful and productive things in this world. Whatever erodes that, whatever diminishes that or takes away from that sense of dignity and purpose is against the will of God.

Asking people to be the solution to their own problem and allowing them to innovate, that’s what empowerment really is. That is real change. So that when we leave…guess who stays and becomes a part of their own solution.

Compare these two types of mind-sets around development that people/organizations tend to go in with:

1. Needs-based Development:

  • Focuses on the deficits and shortcomings in the life of a purpose in a person or community.  Asks how YOU are broken and how I can fix it. Not a good place to start.
  • It assumes solutions and resources come from outside the individual or community. It says “You’re poor. You can’t do it.” Basically it states that the solution will come from outside of this community and it sets the people up to expect something to be brought in to ‘save’ them. (Remember the quote from this article – “Developing countries do not need short-term heroes. They need long-term partners.”)
  • It fails to identify and mobilize the assets of a person and community. What’s the goal? Restoration. The goal is to lead people to have the sense they are made in the image of God. God has blessed them with gifts... all kinds of gifts and resources. The goal is to help them steward those resources more effectively.  
  • Needs-based ignores the assets that are already there.

2. Asset-based Development:

  • Focuses on the skills, capabilities, and resources of the person or community. It starts off with what is right.
  • It is often the case that simply asking people to consider their gifts is poverty alleviation. This is the starting point – to focus on the gifts and abilities that they already have.

An asset-based approach is one where you approach a community with the sense that they have things to offer, they have inherent dignity and worth that God has given them, they have experiences that you don’t have and so while you might be bringing some technological knowledge to them you sit in the space with them and be a learner alongside of them.

Often that outside resource does harm as it does not help people to see their own assets. It blinds them from seeing the assets they already have and so they [don’t allow] them to emerge. The use of local resources is what brings in sustainability.

Outside help should only come to supplement what already exists. It should not come with the intention to replace it.

Their involvement is the essence of what development is. Participation is core to healthy development – it creates ownership and enthusiasm. It helps them to recognize for themselves their own role in it. “It is our idea. Let’s get this thing done.”

Participation is not just a means to getting things done. Rather having people participate in stewarding their gifts and resources and having them participate in the planning of how to use those resources and have them execute is a valid end in its own right." 

This asset-based approach aligns so clearly with EduDeo’s method of investing in teachers. We believe indigenous teachers are an asset worthy of our investment.  We are investing in teacher leaders by working with them on answering this fundamental question, “What does it mean to teach from a Christian perspective?”  A solid response to this question richly impacts the lives of students, increasing their potential to affect change in their families, communities and countries!  Canadian Partnership Coordinator, Phil Beck, notes, “It is encouraging to see how our philosophy of ministry aligns with the practical instruction from this video serious. We feel we’re on the right track as an organization in so many ways.”


We encourage you to read the following scripture passages connected to this unit:


We'd love to hear your thoughts on how this video impacted your mind set around development. Please share below in our comments section. Thank you!

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