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Community Health Evangelism transforms lives


Child's arm being measured for malnutrition

We are seeing individuals and communities transformed through CHE.
— Rev. Jo Ella Holman, PC(USA) Regional Liaison for the Caribbean

Presbyterian mission co-worker Ruth Brown has witnessed just how important the Presbyterian Church of Congo’s Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program is to the malnourished children of a small village in Africa. She accompanied pastor Malenga Ilunga, professor of Old Testament at Sheppard and Lapsley Presbyterian University of Congo, and his neighbor Albert Babadi, a local village chief, on their visits to families living just outside the campus. The two men are volunteer members of the CHE committee of Ndesha in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The team of six volunteers has been following 84 children with upper arm circumferences of less than 14 centimeters—about 5½ inches—which is an indication of malnutrition.

Children being measured for malnutrition“Following the children” means making many visits and providing much support to families to encourage healthy behaviors that can overcome or prevent malnutrition. CHE volunteers explain to each family that, as Christians, they want to assist neighbors in ways that will make their children healthier. They refer children to a health clinic for height and weight measurements and nutritional assessments. They look for the presence of a garden and cultivation of high-protein foods near the home. In addition, they assess the use of moringa leaves in the diet and the presence of moringa trees near the home. Three cups of fresh moringa leaves (or two heaping serving spoons of dried moringa powder) will add nine grams of protein to a child’s meal. Moringa adds many other nutrients, including vitamins, calcium, iron and magnesium.

During one of their visits, the team found an 8-year-old boy taking care of his 1-year-old brother who had an upper arm circumference of 13 centimeters. The mother was at the market all day, leaving home before 6 a.m. and not returning until after 7 p.m. The father was in the fields all week, coming home only on Saturday for one night each week. The CHE volunteers in Ndesha had been visiting the family for the last six months, and they noted one positive behavioral change that had taken place during that time, apparently due to their visits. The mother had begun to leave food for breakfast for her sons, using leftovers from the evening meal: soft bread of cassava and cornmeal and a little sauce made of manioc leaves mixed with palm oil. There were also new, green moringa leaves sprouting from a branch that had been planted in their yard.

With time and continued visits, the volunteers may help transform the lives of families within the village.

What is Community Health Evangelism?

Community Health Evangelism is a multifaceted approach to ministry that addresses the needs of the whole person—physically, spiritually, emotionally and socially—through training individuals and communities in disease prevention, community development, evangelism and discipleship. CHE focuses on:

• Empowering people to do things for themselves, liberating individuals from dependency and expectation.

• Reaching the whole person, addressing physical and spiritual needs.

• Equipping leaders with skills to identify their own community’s assets and to address a variety of needs instead of compartmentalizing personnel.

• Developing community “ownership.” CHE teaches people how to identify their own problems and find a way to solve them, using locally available resources.

• Encouraging preventive vs. curative health care. CHE is designed to prevent diseases of individuals, families and communities. By providing participants with knowledge concerning basic health principles and practices, CHE promotes optimal health within communities.

 

How can you be involved?

Pray for the CHE programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and for individuals and communities to be receptive to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Learn about the principles that guide the implementation of CHE. CHE is not limited to the two-thirds world. Learn how CHE might work in your own context.

Give to financially support CHE programs and mission co-workers involved in CHE.

Questions?

Africa
Debbie Braaksma
800-728-7228 x5916
debbie.braaksma@pcusa.org

Latin America and the Caribbean
Valdir Franca
800-728-7228 x5315
valdir.franca@pcusa.org


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