Go to the people Live among them….Chinese Poem

Louis and I are going to Chicago the first week of April to attend the Christian Community Development Association’s (CCDA) Institute called Immersion.  Following the week-long program, we, along with a small group of about 50, will be certified in Christian Community Development.  We have been doing a lot in our community at a grass-roots level and are looking forward to gaining additional knowledge!  Financially, this a big commitment for us, but we are so grateful to God to have received a CCDA Scholarship that will assist us!

I just learned Friday, that there are 10 (yes…I said 10, ten, diez, dix, zehn) books were are to read before we get there.  They have shipped them to us.  So…I guess you know what I will be doing between now and when we leave on 4.2! (And…what I will probably be writing on!  Thanks for letting me process with you!!)  I’m hoping I have read some of them, at least!  One that I have had on my shelf for a while now is called Restoring At-Risk Communities: Doing It Together & Doing It Right, which I started reading Saturday night.  It’s the “Official Handbook of the Christian Community Development Association”….so I am hoping, expecting and praying that this one is on their list, because I’m about half done!

Dr. John Perkins and some other urban ministry gurus like Bob Lupton, Noel Castellanos, and Mary Nelson share their wisdom gained from decades of experience.

In chapter 1, Perkins asks and answers the following question…

…How do we affirm the dignity of people, motivate them and help them take responsibility for their own lives?  By beginning with the people’s felt needs we establish a relationship and a trust, which then enables us to move to deeper issues of development.  This idea of beginning with people’s felt need is what is called the felt need concept.  It is summed up in a Chinese poem…

Go to the people
Live among them
Learn from them
Love them
Start with what they know
Build on what they have:
But of the best leaders
When their task is done
The people will remark
“We have done it ourselves.”

Then, Perkins describes how Jesus engaged the Woman at the Well story located in John 4.  How Jesus started by talking to her and asking her for help — demonstrating she had something of value that she could share with him–Jesus affirmed her dignity and broke down the wall of distrust–before he talked with her about who He was or anything about himself.

Some however sometimes go in like this…

Go to the community with an agenda
Observe the people (maybe)
Tell them what to do
Enable, manipulate and take advantage of them
Even lie to them
Start with what they don’t know
Tell them what YOU think they should know
But the worst of leaders
will do things TO the community
instead of WITH the community
The people will ask
“What have they done to us?”

It’s easy for some of us to come into a situation with all the answers…because although we would never want to admit it…we see ourselves as smarter, more educated, more experienced, more whatever…fill in the blank.  We often think we know what is best for a community.  We force our opinions, thoughts, ideas, etc on a community. When in fact, we do more harm to the community than help.  The community isn’t transforming or coming together, but being torn apart instead.

I’m excited about what we will learn in Chicago…and grateful that we have the opportunity to attend this year.  It’s been on the bucket list for a while…and this is the year!  Praying that we will continue to learn how to see our community and our city through the eyes of Jesus.