Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Passion for Community Transformation

Our friend, Andi, lives in a little village close to El Sembrador. She belongs to a little country church in her poor community. In fact, she's the Sunday school teacher. Every Sunday she instructs about 30 kids of all ages while the adults are in the worship service. She has no resources, no lesson plans, no toys and no supplies other than her Bible. But she loves it. And she knows that she has been given the awesome responsibility to help shape the future of her community.

Andi's daughter, Scarlett, introduces Uno to a few of her friends from church.

When we first arrived at El Sembrador earlier this year, Andi asked for my help to fix up the Sunday School room. She said it needed fresh paint. When we went to look at the room, we found that it needed a little more than some sprucing up! The kids were meeting in a dilapidated building with a leaky roof and littered with moldy wood, rusty nails, old paint and the droppings of some unwelcome critters on the concrete floor. To make matters worse, the village public school was also using the building for its Kindergarten classes every day.

Andi confessed that she had been struggling with the church leadership. They were completely focused on the Sunday worship service and viewed her as the babysitter that made it possible for them to minister to the adults on Sunday morning. She was frustrated at their lack of vision and their inadequate investment in the children.

Andi also helps plan activities for holidays and special events for the kids in her village.

So I agreed to help. But first, she would have to gain the support of her church for the project. I helped her think about her priorities and we came up with a reasonable plan and budget together. Then Andi went to work. Over the last several months, she's held meetings, planned work days and recruited people and supplies. She has gained the confidence of her church family and the community has begun to contribute to the project. Some have donated toys, others have worked to repair the roof or painted the walls. And now Andi is working with a local businessman to build a wall to separate the children's area from the storage area the church needs.

I helped Andi design simple murals to paint on the walls of the children's chapel.

We have limited our involvement in the church to a small $100 donation from our ministry fund and some encouraging words. Another friend from Minnesota also donated $100 to the cause. But Andi has done all of the work. In the process, she has earned the respect of the community and has become a leader in her church. Perhaps most importantly, she has gained the confidence to share her ideas with other leaders. I'm guessing this won't be the last project Andi will initiate. And if she has anything to say about it, there will be entire new generation of leaders with the same passion for community transformation.

The roof in the children's chapel has been improved, the walls painted and cute Bible scenes decorate the walls thanks to Andi's efforts.

1 comment:

Mark-Serena Dunbar said...

Great message in this blog. Keep up the good work! It is great to see Andi again in these pictures. I love the way that you empowered her and let her be the main part of the solution.