I spent all of last week above Colorado Springs in intense training sessions with some of the leaders of the CHE (Community Health Evangelism) movement, which is so effective it is spreading rapidly around the world as various denominations and missions groups adopt its methods. Saddleback Church with Rick Warren, for instance, is using the CHE development program in the Peace Initiative in Rwanda.
CHE is a unique neighborhood (or village) approach that seamlessly integrates Scriptural stories with practical preventive healthcare (or microenterprise) lessons that are advanced by trained village nationals who relate (ideally) to 10-15 households. There may be other groups that are doing this kind of integration—I’ve witnessed all kinds of relief and development initiatives around the world in my travels as a journalist—but, generally they lean toward one pole or another, development and relief on the one hand, or church planting on the other.
When I saw the CHE model in Kenya, I was immediately overwhelmed with the empowering genius of its philosophy. It puts back into the hands of the community the responsibility for their own physical and spiritual health, and it gives them the savvy to do exactly what needs to be done. When I was asked to serve on the board of LifeWind, the organization that first incubated and now must serve the rapid global mobilization of this movement, I immediately said, “Yes!” (Actually, it was more like, “Take me! Take me, PLEASE!”)
Stan Rowland, who originated the Community Health Evangelism concept, shared longitudinal data conducted through independent surveys that have studied the effect of CHE on villages where there has been a decade or so of CHE impact. For instance:
I could go on and on, but just one more sample may help you understand why I am so excited about being involved in any way in this outreach.
After five years of doing CHE in 48 villages of seven provinces in Cambodia, a study compared CHE communities with non-CHE communities.
One of the lessons was on “positive deviants.” “What,” I thought, when I heard this phrase, “is a positive deviant?”
In one East Asian village, with a rice-based diet and few other nutritional supplements, some children in the same community were not malnourished like the majority. They all ate rice from the same paddies. But, in one paddy from which these healthier children were fed, tiny little krill inhabited the water. The krill provided a protein nutrient that kept off the starvation diseases. A positive deviant.
In another community, soup was the staple dish. Again, some children did not manifest the same wasting diseases as the majority. A careful study could find no differences in eating until one researcher noticed that some parents scooped soup, not from the top of the pot as was customary, but from the bottom, where the nutritious veggies and small pieces of meat settled. And that made all the difference. A positive deviant.
My week of CHE training and these little stories have caused me to do some deep thinking about positive deviancy. After all, isn’t that what Christianity is all about?
Yep! Positive deviancy.
Definitely—the original positive deviant.
So here we are, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, with the world going awry again. With Americans stuck in a painfully slow economic recovery. With a political system that is controlled by special interests and where the good of the people is lost in power politics. What are we to do?
We are going to become positive deviants. We are not going to let the condition of the world bump us from making a difference for good in the name of Christ in the world.
So how? Use the CHE model.
(Well, this is really simplistic—but many of us are just novitiate positive deviants!)
Let me know. Remember the krill in the rice paddy and the ingredients at the bottom of the soup pot.
Annual 24-hour Advent Retreat of Silence
Twenty-some women have taken advantage of the early-registration discount, and we have room for 35 more. The cost now is $120. You still can receive a price break if you bring a friend who has never attended a Hungry Souls Advent Retreat before. If you are new or bring a friend that’s new, the cost will be $90 per person. This fee includes a private room with bath and three meals.
We will be looking at the life of Mary and pondering the unknowns and the mysteries in all of our lives. For those new to this process of silence, this retreat is always a guided retreat.
The dates are Wednesday and Thursday, December 1 and 2. We will be meeting at the Bishop Lane Retreat Center in Rockford, IL. Directions and all the other details will be sent to you upon receipt of your registration. There is one month left for you to reserve a place for yourself and a friend!
You can register by e-mailing Susan Hands at firstname.lastname@example.org. We MUST have your check in the office by November 21. Please make your checks payable to “Hungry Souls” and mail them to:
Global Bag Project Tidbits
Three people have stepped forward to donate $30 for 12 months to match the $300 a month that the Alive and Well Foundation is granting us as a loan, so we can increase traffic to the Global Bag Project website. This is exciting! We are looking for seven more loving donors. Please contact Karen Mains at email@example.com.
Listening Groups Start in February, 2011
Karen Mains is gathering material to put a book on Listening Groups together and would love to journey from February 2011 through eight months until September with people who wish training as Listening Group leaders. This will keep her mind in the Listening Group mode and in dialogue with people who feel strongly about this spiritual exercise.
Her covenant is to have the first draft of the book written by September 2011.
As usual, the groups will consist of 3-4 members; we will meet once a month at the Mains’ home in West Chicago, IL. The meetings will last 2 1/2 hours, but will include training and hands-on activity with each participant taking turns leading the group. Karen is a small-group specialist, certified by Riva Institute as a focus group moderator.
We will be looking at the neurobiology of well-being cuased by the listening process, at how to ask good questions, at how to guard the architecture of the listening process, at how to create safety in a group, etc.
The fee for this 8-month journey is $125. If you are interested, contact Susan Hands at Mainstay Ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.HungrySouls.org.
“When I saw the CHE model in Kenya, I was immediately overwhelmed with the empowering genius of its philosophy. It puts back into the hands of the community the responsibility for their own physical and spiritual health, and it gives them the savvy to do exactly what needs to be done. When I was asked to serve on the board of LifeWind, the organization that first incubated and now must serve the rapid global mobilization of this movement, I immediately said, ‘Yes!’”
When Helping Hurts:
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself by Brian Fikkert, Steve Corbett and John Perkins. Everyone we know in the development, relief and missions communities is talking about this book. Most of us are aware that billions of dollars of aid poured into Africa have not helped that continent but have, instead, too often created a negative environment of dependency.
Helping looks at the personal implications of helping the poor for those of us in the Christian community. It helps us examine our hidden motives and what unintended consequences actually result from unexamined good intentions.
We have ordered the book from Amazon.com so we won’t miss out on this exciting dialogue! Check it out.