One of the newest projects I have had the privilege of joining is the health care education initiative for local leaders in Lebanon. I will be partnering with Crossroads Baptist Church in the Denver area and several local organizations working with the marginalized and immigrant populations throughout Lebanon. The goal of the training program is to teach local leaders how to use Assets Based Community Development (ABCD) methods to plan and develop solutions to the health crisis that they face. This type of training empowers local leaders through ABCD. The outcome of these trainings will be sustainable programs in place to meet ongoing health needs that utilize local resources and local people.
What is ABCD and how is it different than previous models?
Assets-based community development is not about statistics…things like how many patients I see, how many lives I save, how many people I’ve led to Christ through this ministry or even data and stories about my specific medical care of patients. Although I understand that numbers served and outcomes seem like very important information and an indication of whether your gifts are making a difference, or if I am doing a “good job,” I would like to explain more about the methods I use to promote health and save lives around the world, and why those statistics may not be so clearly obvious. ABCD (Assets-Based Community Development) is a model of helping communities use their talents, gifts, local resources and knowledge of their own community to creatively solve the challenges that they face. Think of Apollo 13. When face to face with an issue, most people will fall back on their training.
When we equip just a few people, the numbers may be small but the impact is exponential when they are encouraged to believe in their God-given ability to come up with creative solutions to choose what is best in the given situation. This is very different from outsiders (us!) going in and doing all of the work (needs-based) and receiving credit. In the past, when we have worked under a needs-based model, it has created dependence and a low self-esteem for communities we have been trying to help. Good intentions but unsustainable outcomes in the long run. So the best way to see your gifts at work is to see how independent and resourceful some of the communities get, and how excited they are in solving a health problem rather than simply calling us. In turn, they encourage others to work together with what God has already placed in their hands. That is my work! Training and exhorting others to overcome health and wellness challenges right in front of them. That is the measure of a successful ABCD ministry!
I recently returned from Cochabamba, Bolivia and had the opportunity to meet with several groups of Bolivian leaders to share the ABCD concept. They were all very excited and interested in using this model to train-up colleagues and utilize the capacity of people within their community. They said it felt empowering and would be sustainable, unlike previous models of outreach.
This spring there was an outbreak of Ebola in the western part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since I had previously worked with the 2014 outbreak in Liberia, I was approached by colleagues in DRC to go and help. After several conversations with staff on the ground and other organizations working in or around the crisis, it has been decided that I will find a time later this year to visit our clinics and hospitals to make sure that they are prepared for an outbreak. I’ll keep everyone up to date as things progress!
Over the last several months, I have been writing a 5-7 day training program that will incorporate ABCD, positive deviance, Community Health Evangelism (CHE) principles and Sphere Standards of practice. It is meant to help communities learn how to use their specific resources to meet the health challenges they face as well as provide a daily Bible study and methods of breaking down barriers for working together.
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