Did you know that a portion of the fees collected at GivingFire goes towards developing church communities in other parts of the world?
Recently, we had the opportunity to support a GivingFire team member who serves annually at the Rancho La Paloma Ministry Center in Tecate, Mexico. Here is a short story from his most recent trip:
I grew up in a construction family and have been doing short-term missions work since I was a teenager. It’s often said that you’ll gain more from these trips than you can give. I’ve always found this to be true. It’s a chance to grow in humility, encourage fellow believers, and hopefully have a life changing impact on the folks you’re serving. However, my somewhat hyper-analytical business mind has me often asking: what sort of impact are we actually having? Are we making an actual sustainable economic difference? Is this the most efficient/effective use of the resources God has entrusted to us? How can we better empower gospel communities in other nations and develop long lasting relationships?
This year I had the opportunity to hear and learn from the directors of Rancho La Paloma, who have been serving in Tecate, Mexico for over 20 years. On average they coordinate trips with 30-40 groups annually, who have built nearly 500 homes for families in rural border villages. Collectively, Christian based organizations have built over 1500 homes in Tecate in the last 10 years, which is only a small portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars in resources that go to border towns per year. This can be tremendous economic lift for impoverished families and a mobilizing force if implemented correctly, but at times has created a culture of expectation, entitlement, and indifference towards the “Rich Americans” who come and leave. During our learning we discovered there’s a major shift happening among mission organizations, from a model of aid to a model for development.
Here is a note from Rancho La Paloma Ministry Center that further defines the sort of paradigm shift towards a development model for missions that we experienced during our training:
Most of us are familiar with the saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."
Development focuses on empowering the local community to define, participate in, and resolve their own goals, with their own ideas and resources.
Some of the principles emphasized are:
- Address both physical and spiritual community needs ("wholistic" approach).
- The community develops the ideas and the solutions to their own problems.
- The resources to implement the solution come from within the community.
- Volunteers, ideas, and solutions increase, and spread to other communities.
- The community learns how to reach its own goals with God's help.
- We learn from each other when we all participate together - We are equals.
- We model Jesus' leadership style by serving all whom we work alongside.
The Ranch is learning about these principles from a network of mutually supportive organizations called Community Health Evangelism (CHE). CHE's strategy to serve impoverished communities has been used successfully around the globe for decades. We work within the local Mexican communities to further establish these principles as a model for service and development.
We are now exploring strategies with Mexican and US churches to enable these communities to start their own projects, which we would then come alongside. Our desire is that US churches and the Ranch will work towards collaborating and strengthening their existing relationships with the local churches in Northern Mexico, thereby facilitating and encouraging local church and community leaders in implementing the principles of Community Health Evangelism. The goal of CHE is for a local community to come together, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to start Identifying their own physical and spiritual resources, and then use these God given resources to address issues in their communities. Throughout this process, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are glorified as the source of all good things, and the community recognizes that they are capable of addressing their own needs, with God’s and each other’s help. They are neither powerless nor forgotten!
It is our hope at GivingFire to continue to empower our people and churches to serve alongside organizations like these for many years to come.
Thanks for your support! - Nathan
To learn more about these ideas, and how other ministries are implementing them, check out the following websites:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Col. 3:23-24