“Sure, I can help you cross the river.” Omot said to Albino, and encouraged Albino to climb on his back. Pretending to navigate the ‘river’ by stepping on boulders, Omot reached an island in the middle of the river. He realized that Albino was too heavy to continue to carry across the river, so he slid him off his back and left him there on the island. A woman, Peace, came to the same river, but was stuck because she did not know how to cross. Elijah came and offered to show her how to cross. One step at a time, he pointed out the places to step, held her hand, and encouraged her as they crossed over together.
(Left) Omot drops Albino at the island in the middle of the river.
(Right) Elijah helps peace learn how to cross the river
Our large circle of forty people then discussed the contrast between the ways that Omot and Elijah offered help to the people who needed it. Everyone recognized that ‘showing’ the way and walking with the person had a better result than trying to ‘do it for them’ (by carrying them) but then leaving them stranded in the middle of the river. This is an example of how the Community Health Evangelism (CHE) strategy works. The focus from the beginning is on empowering local leadership and volunteers to own their approach to improving holistic well-being in their communities. They might get training or technical assistance in some aspects, but they have to do the work themselves and invest their own resources. That way, when they begin to see transformation, they know they have done it themselves, and are empowered and motivated to tackle more challenges.
There was good participation in group discussions
Our Vision Seminar last week focused on introducing the strategy of CHE to church leaders in Juba. Three people who have been using CHE for several years came from Gambella, Ethiopia, to present the principles and vision for CHE. Grasping the roles of community committees, trainers, and volunteers can be rather challenging, so I was happy to host people who could explain it from their own experience. I rejoiced to hear them share about the transformation they have seen in the villages around Gambella – a context with similar challenges to South Sudan. About seven of SSPEC’s congregations in Juba were represented at our Vision Seminar, along with a couple other denominations. During group discussions, it was evident that many people recognized the value of this strategy, and were interested in further training.
(Left to right) Ariet, Rachel, and Matthew came from
Gambella to facilitate our seminar
As our colleague Rachel (one of the facilitators) shared afterwards, organizing this Vision Seminar was one of the easiest parts of starting to use CHE. Now we get down to the nitty-gritty of equipping people, mobilizing communities, and promoting holistic health. We are still learning how to cross the river! One challenge is discerning the next steps and figuring out how this strategy designed for rural settings can work in the city of Juba. Please pray with us for the right people to be chosen for further training, and for God to guide this process and provide the right people alongside to walk with us and point the way.