International Ministries

Community Resilience Project

January 19, 2012 Journal
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Dear Friends,  

Can you identify with the feeling of  “donor fatigue”?  Natural disasters seem to abound. The news barrages us with tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, tornados, drought. . . and the resulting human suffering. We are asked to give generously, and our hearts respond with prayers and donations. But sometimes it seems overwhelming, and the organizations responsible for disaster relief worry that people will not be able to keep giving forever.

One such organization, always early on the scene for any disaster, has taken a novel approach to the issue. World Vision International (WVI) observes that many “disasters” are not “natural” at all, but result from a fatal combination of natural phenomena and bad human decisions. A flood in an uninhabited area is not a disaster, just an event. It becomes a disaster when people build on the riverbank. A drought is predictable and can be planned for, if conditions in the country permit it.  An earthquake provokes massive loss of human life in some countries, but only structural damage in others.  So, instead of picking up the pieces afterwards, why not try to prevent disasters by building resilient communities? World Vision works in community development, which provides an ideal context to help communities identify, prevent and prepare for potential disasters.

The Latin American office, centered in Costa Rica, asked itself: what is the group in every town on the continent that is already well organized and with high motivation to help the community? The church, of course. Get the churches on board with the program and it will be an instant success. But how to convince them that this connects with their call to ministry?

That’s when I heard about the Community Resilience Project. The WVI office (which had sponsored some of our Lumbera curriculum) asked if I would be willing to write a series of devotionals and Bible studies to accompany the training program, to help the churches see how God wants to use them to help their communities. It was a big project: 20 devotionals and 15 lessons, based on the story of Nehemiah, but I was thrilled to be part of such a visionary effort. It was surprisingly fun to return to the 20-year ministry I had left. I finished the last lesson only days before leaving for the States in October.  Pray with me that it will bear fruit throughout the Americas.

Together in ministry,

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