A person learns where to go and what to do in order to find food when he or she is desperate. In many areas in East Africa, that means going to a camp or food distribution center for emergency relief.
These programs are very helpful in times of crisis, but they are not without consequence. When food distribution continues over time, even when badly needed, people forget how to provide for their family and community and come to depend on the assistance of others. If the crisis continues for multiple generations, an entire culture may shift from independence to extreme dependence and eventually to entitlement.
Just as damaging is a culture of extreme independence, one where we refuse to accept or acknowledge help from another person. This situation leads to pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness.
A healthy community is one of interdependence where each has something to contribute to one another. We all have something to offer, resources, time, talent, ideas, etc. During times of crisis, it may seem as though we have little to offer, but we must focus on what we do have and how we can work to make the situation better. Then in the future, we will be the one able to offer more when someone else has little.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT)
When each person brings what he or she has, whether it is a little or a lot, and combines it with the assets of others in the community, we can develop together in an environment of equitable and healthy exchange. We are better off together!
That’s what Community Health Evangelism (CHE) is all about—breaking the cycle of dependence and entitlement by using the community’s own assets and resources to work towards their goals. This is the system we use in East Africa. We use biblical principles to help people restore their relationship with their Creator and their neighbor as they work together in fellowship, accountability, and interdependence.