How to Help People and Neighborhoods
For transformation to take place, people and neighborhoods must decide they want something different than what they currently have. Then they must care enough that they are willing to do something about it to see the change take place. If that desire and action are not there, then no matter what we do for others, even if it's good, generally will not cause transformation to take place. Transformation comes from inside people themselves and neighborhoods.
But we as Western Christians are focused on doing things for others. People might say "sure, I would like" that and gratefully accept whatever we do for them but does that transform them or their neighborhood? The answer is No.
There are three ways of helping people and neighborhoods:
- Relief: Doing Things for People. Provides assistance without addressing long term needs nor using assets found in the people or neighborhood.
- Betterment or Mentoring Individuals to Change Things They Want Changed. This tends to create short term, positive, caring, beneficial environments, and relationships that offer participants respite or positive experiences.
- Transformation of Individuals and Neighborhoods. This is wholistic and sustainable. It focuses on measured changes in knowledge, skills, abilities or conditions of the participants that when combined together causes their neighborhood to be transformed from the inside. It is multiplying as Jesus told his disciples to do in II Timothy 2:2.
An Approach that Fosters Transformation:
- It is a people-oriented, relationship building process.
- It is designed to identify assets within the neighborhood found in individuals, associations and institutions, and identifies which of those assets they are willing to share.
- Once the assets are identified, you begin to link the people you have been building relationships with, to the assets that would empower them.
- It is based on neighbors helping neighbors, not being dependent on professionals to do things for them.
- It is designed to build up internal and external abilities.
- It is designed to be sustainable.
- It is primarily a grass-root, bottom-up process which requires a person to act as a catalyst and facilitator.
- It is a gradual learning process progressing from the simple to the more complex and from the known to the unknown.
- It works primarily with individuals and households and then impacts the neighborhood as a whole.
- It is greater than the sum of its parts.
- It requires a moral and ethical focus for relationships to grow, which results from establishing trust.
- These ethical values are based on absolutes that do not change, but are the same year-after- year. This is based on God's Word, the Bible.