A Letter from Jeremy and Luta Garbat-Welch, serving in Malawi
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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
One of the eight foundational principles of Community Health Evangelism (CHE) is multiplication. The concept of multiplication applies to many facets of the CHE process but essentially conveys the understanding that the knowledge shared as part of the CHE process should be shared and multiplied throughout communities. Just as waves ripple out on a pond from a rock dropping in it, soon affecting the entire surface of the water, so knowledge gained in CHE should be shared until everyone is impacted.
During an informal evaluative process with the CCAP Synod of Zambia CHE program last month, I asked those present which of the eight principles of CHE they felt their particular community was doing well. When Rev. Chilenje, lead CHE trainer in the Emusa and Egichikeni communities in Eastern Zambia, replied “multiplication,” I asked him to give me an example of how he saw his community implementing this principle.
Rev. Chilenje shared the following story. Emusa congregation, served by Rev. Chilenje, had three prayer houses (church plants or satellite churches that share a pastor with a main congregation). For years, five Christians traveled 4-5 km from Chidoro to attend one of these prayer points. However, during rainy season, they were prevented from worshiping because of a river that formed and cut off their access. For years, these Christians begged for a prayer point to be established in their area.
When Rev. Chilenje was first trained as a CHE trainer, he began meeting with these Christians to share the vision of CHE, to empower them to see their own gifts and strengths, what resources were already available to them locally, and to discuss the differences between relief and development. Through these conversations, these Christians came together and molded and burned their own bricks to build a church structure. From those 5 Christians, there are now 112 church members, and Chidoro is now officially a prayer point of Emusa congregation. The church structure has been built and roofed using all locally available resources without any outside donations and can hold 250 people. Rev. Chilenje shared, “People were inspired after the vision seminar; the congregants were willing not to receive relief but to do development. The membership grew from 5 to 25, then 30 to 40. When people have received the message, they have been empowered. They are able to act. We are able to see that … In the past, at least 5 if not 10 [previous] pastors … in this same congregation … tried this idea, but people had the mentality of dependency syndrome. But when these lessons of CHE came forth and they got the concept, it was easy for them.”
I have a master’s degree in public health, and my personal bias is towards community health. Sometimes, when so much of the work currently seems to be focused on microenterprise and church-building, I wonder what “health” work I am actually doing in my work with CHE. But when I step back, I know that this is the beauty of CHE: it incorporates the whole person, meeting communities where they are in their needs, addressing what they are most willing and able to engage in now. While I look around and wonder about all the health issues that need to be addressed, the church sees that communal worship is a need that must be prioritized. The local church sees that these Christians suffer for 4-6 months out of every year, separated from worshiping with fellow believers and from receiving pastoral visits. They understand the grief of being separated, the challenge of walking 5 km for worship each Sunday.
The concept of development is deeper in CHE than only solving a health problem. It begins with developing our identity and value in Christ, because when we understand our value in Christ then we allow ourselves and our communities to be transformed. It is truly a beautiful thing to witness a community come together to work towards addressing their own needs in their own context.
In the meetings I have had with both CHE programs in Nkhoma Synod and Synod of Zambia, there is a desire to deepen in their knowledge and understanding of CHE, to strengthen the existing structures so that the multiplication of CHE may one day move forward into surrounding communities. Laying the foundations has been a slow process, but as the leaders in both synods have deepened in their own knowledge, there is a joy and an energy as they rediscover the even greater depths of transformation that can take place. Both of these synods are in a process of reviewing how far they have come and where they want to go. Will you join me in praying for them as they discern their next steps?
As we live and work with our partner, the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), we constantly have our eyes opened to the ways that we can grow and change and learn from one another. As we share the stories about how we are encouraging one another, we hope that you find encouragement in them as well. As you continue to join us in this work through prayer and emotional and financial support, we hope you too will find new ways that you can engage the needs and struggles in your own communities.
In Christ’s Service,
Luta (for the Garbat-Welches)
Please read this important message from José Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission
Dear partners in God’s mission,
We near the close of 2018 inspired by the hope of Christ. God is transforming the world, and you are helping to make it happen.
Thank you very much for your support of our mission co-workers. The prayers and financial gifts of people like you enable them to work alongside global partners to address poverty, hopelessness, violence and other pressing problems in the name of Jesus Christ.
Every day, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers are blessed to be able to walk alongside their brothers and sisters across the globe. Listening to each other in faith and in friendship, they learn from each other how to work towards a world in which everyone flourishes. Acting upon what they discover together, PC(USA) mission co-workers and our global partners strengthen the body of Christ.
Because you are an integral part of God’s mission, I invite you to become more deeply committed to Presbyterian World Mission. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer God’s call to serve others.
I also invite you to ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s prayer list and mission budget for 2019 and beyond. Your multi-year commitment will make a great difference in our involvement with our partners. The majority of our mission co-workers’ funding comes from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours, for God’s mission is a responsibility of the whole church, not a particular area of the church. Now more than ever, we need your financial support!
In faith, our mission co-workers accept a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission, representing the whole church and you, sends them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts? With hope and faith, I await your positive response!
At God’s service and at your service!
José Luis Casal
P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!
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Tags: che, Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, community health evangelism, Egichikeni, empowerment, Emusa, growth, health, Nkhoma Synod, prayer house, Rev. Chilenje, Synod of Zambia
Tags: Jeremy and Luta Garbat-Welch
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