A man of a right spirit is not a man of narrow and private views, but is greatly interested and concerned for the good of the community to which he belongs, and particularly of the city or village in which he resides, and for the true welfare of the society of which he is a member.
— Jonathan Edwards
THE ETERNAL-TEMPORAL TENSION
It is common in the Ivorian culture for a man to return to his home village or town at retirement. At that time, the villagers expect him to do something for their community as a symbol of his success. Sadly, that anticipated largesse often turns out to be an opulent home for himself, at times with a monument or statue. His actions seldom bless the entire community. Rarely does he get involved locally to develop habits of enduring spiritual, physical, or social improvement.
In contrast, picture believers who purpose to use their life skills and resources to influence others to obey God. They bring healing and peace to family, community, and their nation. Glorious truths emanate from our Christian faith. Community Health Evangelism (CHE) ministries explain them well in day to day living:
— the LORD is our portion (Psalm 16:5);
— we have an imperishable inheritance reserved in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4); and
— our lives do not consist in the abundance of things we possess (Luke 12:15).
Embracing these thoughts frees anyone to see their blessings as gifts from God. The gifts become useful to leverage hand-ups and teach others how to live in His presence. That Biblically includes leaving a physical inheritance to our children and grandchildren (Prov. 13:22). Even more, it entails leaving an enduring legacy of godly habits and of good works with those who are to transform their generation.
FOCUS ON THE ETERNAL (See Profit and Loss)
CHE is sometimes misunderstood as a program that focuses on helping people with their physical needs while ignoring their spiritual plight. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, CHE is a vehicle—a method–for sharing the totality of Biblical truth household-to-household in a community with the express purpose of seeing 100% of the population come to Jesus. That has been the case in some villages worldwide. Indeed, CHE does focus on the eternal.
This is why we mention Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) in so many of our weekly updates. Much of our time is spent training and mentoring pastors and other congregants to lead studies at home, school, work, and church. People are now regularly being saved, including adherents to the competing and larger religion in this nation. We no longer lead these studies except for a few weeks to model and launch the process. We now follow up with between thirty and forty DBS leaders who need regular encouragement and advice as they minister. This week we counseled one leader who works with teens (see Scandalon) about how to proceed with the groups he mentors when high school resumes.
FLOURISH IN THE TEMPORAL (see Stepping into Development)
On the temporal side, there is nothing Godly or healthy about letting people suffer from preventable diseases, unclean water, malnutrition, or techniques of subsistence farming which impoverish them. The shalom that God instructs for each person is a wholeness that includes peace with God, others, self, and Creation. It is demonstrated when we sense safety in mind, body, and estate. Integral to CHE is dealing with any issue or sin that prevents a community from experiencing this shalom of abundant living that Jesus came to provide.
The Apostle James said our faith is dead if we ignore the physical needs of others. In CHE, that is not understood to mean the simple giving of help in a time of crisis. It demands that we develop regular training and sharing of expertise that allow community members to escape poverty and avert future disaster. By implicating household members of the entire community and using local resources, CHE strengthens their capacity to flourish in the temporal time we have.
Every month this year, we have mentored or sent Ivorians for training in ways to improve health, nutrition, and agriculture. One man whom we sent to learn Farming God’s Way techniques (see A New Thing) shared his testimony of thanks this week. At his recent harvest, his corn stalks had at least three ears of corn, and occasionally four, instead of the one ear that was common before! Last week we helped host two men who came to Bondoukou to train Ivorians how to raise mushrooms year-round.
To minister to children, we follow two educators who test a simple health program among elementary-aged children (see Healing Belief). Kids and parents have enthusiastically enacted information about personal hygiene and diseases prevention. Verlin conversed last week with the editor of the HEPFDC health manual. They exchanged about how to best proceed to provide for ever-increasing numbers of copies in French. The goal is to see this effort self-propagate here.
In July and August, Verlin spent well over 100 hours helping several pastors who use CHE to prepare for their part in the university scientific congress (see below), as well as meeting with CHE village teams (see In, Up, or Out?) to plan their next phases of ministry.
As a couple, we continue to learn about and experiment with nutrition in the home. We model the consumption of locally available food to limit malaria, hypertension, diabetes, and other diseases that can be moderated by lifestyle choices.
HARNESS THE TEMPORAL TO AFFECT THE ETERNAL (see Saving Souls)
When believers exercise the Biblical command in Genesis to manage and care for the Creation, they become models that other people eagerly seek to emulate. September 5-6 of this upcoming week the university CHE team hosts a scientific congress (see Owning It) to undergird using CHE nationwide. They have invited people who successfully implement CHE principles throughout Cote d’Ivoire. These will speak before leaders and professionals of the country.
It is a tribute to the hard work and dependence on the Lord that three rural FWB pastors were asked to participate by sharing how they have used CHE to bring transformation in their local communities. Because they have not attended college or finished high school, these men are understandably intimidated by the setting, but glad for the opportunity. Their building of latrines and wells, reading programs, bee-keeping, and teaching better health practices resulted in planted churches and true community development using local resources. Now they and more than ten other groups using CHE will share because of their commendable results.
Even if medical and other professionals are not saved and never use CHE personally (though many do because it works), the congress gives them exposure to CHE. Then, no matter where they go professionally, they become champions of the strategy when they learn of local individuals, churches, or NGOs using the CHE model. We have already observed this blessing in the slightly more than 200 people who received training in CHE at the university.
We write these reports to encourage your witness as you read about God at work. You also harness the temporal to affect the eternal when you take the time to pray and use part of your income to give! We are thankful for your faithful partnership. In the fall of 2018, because we advanced funds for a conference that failed to fund itself, we thought that we might have to return to the States immediately to raise funds. Instead, ministry partners like you came through phenomenally in the fourth quarter. That allowed us to stay on the field another year, although our cash balance never fully recovered. As a result of this and Debbie’s needed length of stay in the U.S., Verlin did not return to America this summer. Debbie returned stateside for her surgery, and she was able to visit five supporting churches and several individual ministry partners.
National CHE leaders here asked us to stretch our stay until November 2020. Financially we will not be able to do so without adding $1500 of monthly support and coordinating from here for special offerings to raise our account cash balance by $25,000. We have tried connecting by calls to the U.S. from here but found it still unmanageable while working at the pace that we do. Barring a soon and yet greater surprise from our Lord, we anticipate having the joy to say thank you in person. We can then share some stories of how the Lord is using CHE in Cote d’Ivoire sooner rather than later.
After the university events of September and follow-up, we will again make calls to communicate our financial situation. We will then decide whether to return sooner for a stateside assignment. February of 2020 would be the completion of a four-year term. We had only anticipated a 3 to 3.5-year term without increasing support, so we have surpassed that projection! Unless there is exceptional giving or financial commitments made in September and October, we will most likely return to the States in November of this year.
Prayer and Praise
- Pray that more and more people choose to change their life habits and confessions.
- Pray that churches use more CHE strategies to penetrate additional communities because of the training provided on September 9-13. Ask that medical professionals seize the vision of true community transformation and their part in it.
- Pray that the CHE trainers will work together in harmony and be filled with wisdom, grace, and endurance.
- Ask the Lord to give us wisdom about the timing and possible expansion of the ministry to children.
- Pray for the widow and five children of a faithful CHE trainer (see Goodly Heritage) who was tragically killed by a vehicle almost exactly one year ago. Ask the Lord to give the family provision and peace as they face this difficult one-year mark.
- After the CHE university activities in September are complete, ask for wisdom as we consult and decide when to return to the States for a stateside assignment.
Your partners in the Gospel,
Verlin and Debbie Anderson
2019 Budget: CHSC-0118_ANDERSON-Budget_2019
AWA represents Andersons Witness in Africa.
It is also a brand of bottled water in Côte d’Ivoire where we serve
Something to ask? Write: [email protected]