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Walking with the Poor Book Notes

Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development Bryant L. Myers, VP International Program Strategy at World Vision International and resides in La Caada, CA. 1999 World Vision International ISBN 1-57075-275-3 Published through Maryknoll (Roman Catholic Development) and Orbis Books 279 pages paperback, 8 chapters, notes, and 8-page bibliography; forward by Paul Hiebert $14.96 on Amazon.com Notes by Mark Snowden, October 2005

In discussing his "Generative Ideas" Bryant Myers builds on two powerful sets of ideas: Paul Hiebert's description of the Western worldview and its excluded middle, and Jayakumar Christian's understanding of the nature of poverty as relationships that do not work and the cause of poverty as being spiritual. Poverty is experienced most fundamentally by the poor as a marring of their identity and this is caused both by the grind of being poor and also by being captive to the god-complexes of the non-poor. Playing god in the lives of the poor results in a marring of the identity of the poor. Myers adds that it also mars the identity of the non-poor who cannot play god and be who they are in God's sight. Transformation is the work of helping the poor recover their true identity as made in the image of God. The poor and the non-poor need God's redemptive help to recover their true identity as children of God made in God's image and their true vocation as productive stewards, given gifts by God to contribute to the well-being of all.

Chapter One: Charting the Course

Opening line of book: "The purpose of this book is to describe a proposal for understanding the principles and practice of transformational development (positive material, social, and spiritual change) from a Christian perspective." (1) Transformational development transcends what is normally considered as Western modernization. It's not about the "stuff." Transformation seeks "positive change in the whole of human life materially, socially, and spiritually" to the point that people can be "finding and enjoying life as it should be."

Christian witness is preferred over "evangelization" which implies the overzealous and culturally insensitive street preacher just off the plane or a series of tent revivals for the heathen. Development for the poor is a journey to the "ideological center" of a belief system. "These core values and beliefs are where we get our understanding of who we are and what we are for." It shapes efforts to change the present with a "better human future and we should get there" as an outcome. The Christian context of the approach taken in this book transcends proclamation by word only, but also in life and deed; an "active faith." Myers calls Christians "the sixty-seventh book of the Bible." Paul Heibert's notion of "the excluded middle" has had a strong impact on Myers' approach to work among the poor in the Third World. Westerners tend to view the world in two distinct and non-intersection segments: the first being the spiritual world with God at work in mystical ways and the second is the seen world with science and technology in the tangible realities around us. The missing section can be seen by examining a traditional animist worldview. To these poor, there exists the seen and unseen world, but there is also the "low religion" part of the unseen world. High religion (unseen) involves institutionalized religion and the seen world involves those things that are known and experienced. The low religion involves shamans, magic, curses, rituals, and some aspects of folk religion such as the evil eye and the spirit world. Myers credits the charismatic Christians as successfully working with the poor on the power level giving supernatural answers for what God is doing through the work of God through angels, healing, signs, wonders, angels, etc. Animists seek an explanation for the transformation happening through development work and rather than crediting their belief system, realize that something different is at work. They are more interested in power than in truth. This is why an animist will view a well that brings water out of the desert as a work of magic rather than on the technology level. Again, the words, deeds, and signs work together among the poor. "Words clarify meaning of deeds. Deeds verify the meaning of words. Most critically, signs announce the presence and power of One who is radically other and who is both the true source of all good deeds and the author of the only words that bring life in its fullest." This is why revelation works to explain the spiritual realm while observation and reason help interpret the earthly realm. In other words, our Christian activities are not separate, but a "tool for knowing or working in the real world." Science is not separate from God's work. Westerners are warned to understand the spiritual implications of their work as a way to facilitate the Gospel!

Chapter 2: The Biblical Story

Myers does a great service by pointing to the oral learning preference that virtually universal among the poor. He recommends switching to a "narrative account of the biblical story." By "storying" the entire word of God, the poor have an opportunity to hear the full account of God's involvement in the world. The worldview issues of the locals are portrayed in the idea of a people's "story." It influences their perspective and worthiness not only in the eyes of

Westerners, but in God's view as well. Myers brings in the biblical narrative as a way to explain to the poor how God is at work in their world. The Great Command of Jesus (loving God and your neighbor) is at the heart of two things: Transformational Development The Fall (Adam & Eve) was not God's plan. Sin causes the world to be broken in every aspect. Christian witness walk with the poor to help them to re-establish a saving relationship with God and then walk away. Redemption is now God's purpose for mankind. Christians have the best story that explains the best source of Power for action, and the best reasons to express care rooted in WORD, LIFE, and DEED. (re-occurring themes) Exodus is a role model of God at work. It is not a Western model relying on science and technology, but spiritual answers. God freed Israel, but also taught Pharaoh that he wasn't God. (An idea needed in our world today.) The long-term outcome is in God's hands. The future defeats injustice and ills of poverty. The poor have a paradox. They are simultaneously the least receptive to God's story, but for whom God's story is most relevant. Keep the narrative in perspective of a Beginning and an End. However, a people group's story is also part of God's big story. Creation wasn't completed until people groups in Genesis 10 (Babel). All peoples of the world have this in common. Genesis is important in development because we learn that God intended for every person to work and not be worked for. We must share resources, have a responsibility to work, expect growth, and share the results. "Everything belongs to God." (25) Deception, distortion, and domination cause poverty. These are spiritual problems resolved only through Jesus. Development work must convey the gospel to be transformational. Satan must not be overlooked or omitted from the Bible story as causal and adversary to God's purpose and plan. The Fall influenced more than the spiritual side of mankind, so we must be, too. Sin affects the ills of economy, politics, and the religious systems that deviate from the Bible. Psychological changes are needed to turn slaves into freemen in Christ. Cost is great in terms of wealth and power. "The net result of the fall on the economic, political and religious systems is that they become the places where people learn to play god in the lives of the poor and the marginalized." (29) Jesus transformed lives of those in need. Yet in all He did, He redirected praise from Himself to God. It's about more than workers. Jesus turned people to the Kingdom of God. It's more than Christians or the Church. The Kingdom is also more than tactics and effort from good intentions, even love. It's love that hurts to the point of death, and cares enough to tell the truth, always free of hate.

"The doctrine of the fall affirms the radical nature of evil and frees us from any illusion that we or our social institutions are perfectible apart from the redeeming work of Jesus Christ and the full coming of the Kingdom of God." (30) Jesus was the ultimate role model. He was the center of the culture and redefined Israel's center to God's center. It didn't matter that Jesus was not from Jerusalem or hold status there. Look at the poor through Christ's eyes. He changes who the core is. And He did not work alone in his mission. "Transformation is the work of a community; it is not served well by lonely 'cowboys.'" (35) "Transformational development that does not work toward such a church is neither sustainable nor Christian." (39) God works in truth (upper levels of formal religion), in power (excluded middle religious level by the West), and in love (the known or seen world). Science only goes so farcan't explain what things are for. Technology and science cannot stand separate from Gods' Story at work in the lives of people groups in need. "God has no enemies who lie beyond the love of God, even the most vicious, grasping, greedy landlord. God's love of us and our neighbor can be a tough, truth-telling, there-are-consequences, your-soul-is-in-danger kind of love." (51)

Chapter 3: Poverty and the Poor

Myers also pulled ideas from Jayakumar Christians who pulled from chambers and Friedman. Jayakumar addressed the social interplay that traps people into a cycle of poverty. Inner-group conflict results in "oppressive relationships" that bully the poor that can be addressed on the spiritual level. The other social aspect was the network of relationships upon which the poor rely. Think blind leading the blind, which means the spiritually blind make terrible leaders, detrimental to the poor around them without spiritual revelation that brings godly changes. Loss of hope is a downward spiral that excludes a path that would involve a loving God. "The world tends to view the poor as a group that is helpless; thus we give ourselves permission to play god in the lives of the poor. The poor become nameless, and this invites us to treat them as objects of our compassion as thing to which we can do what we believe is best." (57) Complex relationships and social structures were examined. Poverty exists on different levels. Relationships among the poor can be unhealthy. The concept of MARRED IDENTITY is important because it sustains a cycle of poverty. Myers adds the spiritual aspects of poverty to the socio-levels of society or culture. At the core of the entanglements and nature of poverty lies an answer only as God provides in Jesus Christ. Needs differ from the structures that cause those needs. A Christian's compassion cannot ignore the need that must be addressed; no withdrawal for study periods. Meet the need while simultaneously analyzing the micro- and macro-cause of the need or deficit. Children, youth, and women were identified as both special concern and special opportunity. Women comprise two thirds of the world's illiterate. "The poverty of women is physical, spiritual, and social." (65)

The nature of poverty is one aspect, the other is the causes of poverty. For instance, it is easy to see that a village lacks water. Providing water seems to fix the problem at first glimpse. However, upon further analysis, the cause of the water shortage causing the poverty is actually the ownership of the water. Ownership is affected by the social structures, for instance a caste system. Then there are groups and classes and at the bedrock level would be ideologies and values that deem who is worthy of water. (See diagram on page 82.) Yes, meet the need, but know the stream of causes. The non-poor face their own web of lies, nets, and strata of problems. On one level, they strive to maintain the status-quo to preserve their power, but on another they become entombed by their possessions. (A man should live in a house. The house should not live in him.) The non-poor develop god-complexes and entitlement attitudes that can only shift with spiritual transformation. The ideological center must not build structures that trap the poor. The haves may also point to fixed social orders or sinfulness (lazy, drugs, etc.) as a deception. It is true that malnourishment can diminish intelligence, but the non-poor and the macro-systems in place must not let generations continue to suffer. Change is needed for providing access to adequate nutrition and healthcare for people that God loved so much He both created them and died for them. "When people believe they are less human, without the brains, strength, and personhood to contribute to their own well-being or that of others, their understanding of who they are is marred. Similarly, when the poor do not believe that they have anything to contribute, or that they cannot be productive, their understanding of their vocation is distorted as well." (88) The ultimate poverty exists for those being raised by "deviant, delinquent, and criminal adults." (1979, Dilulio, p. 89) Spiritual poverty can and does blend into the real world as the poor pay for charms, feats, and rites given as an attempt to manage those holding power over them. At the heart of poverty is sin that binds people into self-imposed limitations. They seek selfimprovement without the Holy Spirit's involvement. These chains exist for all poor and non-poor living apart from following Christ daily. "The poverty of the non-poor is fundamentally relational and caused by sin. The result is a life full of things and short on meaning. The non-poor simply believe in a different set of lies. The only difference is that poverty of the non-poor is harder to change." (90)

Chapter 4: Perspectives on Development

Chapter includes influential men dealing with poverty. Chapter serves as a history of sorts. Technical aspects of their work were very academic. Their work is presented, discussed, and critiqued by Myers. At first, a concern surfaced regarding Marxism and Liberation Theology with its socialistic responses. However, Myers kept it with an evangelical framework while challenging believers to develop a healthy interaction between activism and politics. 1. Wayne Bragg 1983 Wheaton College consultation listed nine characteristics of transformation, but in the context, the paper was deemed very political. Myers pointed out that the paper focused on the redistribution of wealth, but not creation of wealth.





Worst of all, Bragg put the poor in such an idealized light that the poor were not to be bothered by being involved in their own problem-solving, poor things. David Korten in 1990 proposed people suffered from poverty, environmental destruction, and social disintegration. Korten proposed three principles for sustainability, justice, and inclusiveness as arenas of change. Korten insisted that development workers need a philosophy to shape their strategies. Strategies fall into four categories from responding to symptoms to digging to root causes. The four are response, community development, work for sustainable systems, and promoting people movements (everyone pulling together over time). Myers criticized the need to choose and work on one level at a time instead of figuring out ways to address all four simultaneously. He even suggested hybrids of the four and also a way to use networks of like-minded partners. He also pointed out that people movements were very rare. John Friedman says the poor are powerless to effect change. HOUSEHOLDS use groupings around them for improvement. A web of relationships can grow (called "transformational frontiers") in an irregular as-needed basis. The bad news, according to Myers, is that the non-poor resist the poor making advances into their realms. Friedman also neglects spiritual networks and causes. However, Friedman challenges Christians to develop a theology of political engagement that benefits the poor. Robert Chambers is concerned about more than wealth or poverty, but well-being for everybody. (Think quality of life.) Livelihood security is defined as the flow of goods and adequate stocks available, and having the capability to achieve equity and sustainability. The five underlined words above are the transformational frontiers that form the poverty trap. Myers says that Chambers ignores the "missing middle" like witch doctors, landlords, fear of evil spirits, and other influences which suppress the will to change. Like Friedman, Chambers relies on the goodwill of the non-poor to participate in the change process, especially correcting injustice in the political arenas. Jayakumar Christian's views are loved by Myers. Christian builds on Friedman and Chambers so that the issues of development are addressed in the power realm of Christianity. He addressed the Kingdom of God overcoming a web of lies that mars the self-identify of the poor that perpetuates ungodly poverty. Development work is done in a way that brings value and indeed values the poor. Healing, recognizing God's image, communicating the Good News, prayer, and fasting are vital for success. Together, the worker and poor walk together toward God's Kingdom. Myers believes that Christian could be stronger adding poverty of purpose to identity and doing. The purpose helps workers meet expectations and avoid disappointing those among the poor.

Chapter 5: Toward an Understanding of Transformational Development

Transformation happens as the poor become involved and discover God's purposes fulfilled in their own time and way. This may or may not be ultimately credited to relief workers, donors, or community developers. Just as the West has found solutions that have worked, so the poor must journey, too. Unlike many in the West, Christian workers have the opportunity to help the poor arrive at a more godly Christ-centered solution. Myers frames the process of change to be:

Affirming the relationship between God and mankind. Restoring broken relationships on a number of levels. Keeping the ultimate objective in mind as a point of focus. Recognizing that Satan is working to defeat genuine transformation. Seeking truth, justice, and right-living. There are three stories in any community on earth: an individual's story, the culture's story, and God's story. All three converge in transformational development. "Only by accepting God's salvation in Christ can people and the community redirect the trajectory of their story toward the kingdom of God. This is the bottom line of every community's story, poor and non-poor." (112) God not only has a better future in His plan, but He is constantly inviting people to move into it! The Kingdom of God is more than about providing an afterlife, but on this earth, it changes poverty that exists in the physical, social, mental, and spiritual parts of lives. To reach that objective, it takes more than a transfer of "stuff" or "training." "A flawed process can make the poor poorer by further devaluating their view of themselves and what they have." (116) The poor need to rediscover their identity and what God wants them to do about their situation. Restoring identity and developing character lead to a new vision so that the "web of lies is unmasked for what it is." (117) Recovering identity and discovering vocation are linked to God, to themselves, and to the community around them. Myers speaks to reconciliation as transcending the harmful actions against you or the community to the point that the instigator is no longer considered "other" in the culture. When people are labeled as "other," it fragments the society. Separation happens among the poor and non-poor. Only by embracing Christ can the complete truth be said and justice derived. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a good example (Luke 15:11-31). Otherwise, "the will to exclude creates blindness." (120) Moving toward a better future is only possibly through development workers encouraging and developing just, peaceful, and harmonious relationships. Relationships are often affected from a distance. Myers recommends empowering to the most local levels possible. It is possible to "play God" from a distance; it's often easier. Concerns for bringing change must encompass all levels. Often the poor do not have a voice among the powerful. And sometimes the poor are trampled in the process. Goodwill erodes into harmful consequences. There are nine warnings that should be heeded. These are listed on page 125. They include: Increasing competition and suspicion Feeing up local resources for further exploitation, violence, and war Distort local business activities Giving credibility to those holding political power Favoritism causing separation and increasing tension Generating competition among segments Contributing to violence by hiring guards Reporting to the public causes local anger and further alienation.

Churches and small groups make the greatest contribution when they serve as encouragers and not judges, provide a source of "value formation" in the community as more and more believers tell the Good News, and gets the local believers to contextualize the efforts so that God is praised. Transformational processes should not depend on outsiders. Dependence on external resources often causes the poor to suffer worse in the long-term. (They are worse off than before.) Often this has nothing to do with money, but feelings of being special are gone and services that provided encouragement leave the poor in isolation and despair. When outside influences are removed, the movement of transformation may no longer be sustained. Myers lists sustainability measures for physical (healthcare), mental well-being, social (community relationships), and spiritual sustainability. Does the church go beyond their own walls? Do they work among the Christians as well as non-believers? The church should model God's Kingdom in the here and now. "Soul care is the development of personal faith, personal devotional life, day-to-day application of the faith, commitment to truth and teaching of the biblical command to love God and your neighbor as yourself. Social care is community service, importance of social interaction, helping the poor, and correcting injustices in society. (1997 Posterski and Nelson, p. 134) [My emphasis.]

Chapter 6: Principles and Practioners

The twin goals of transformational development are changed people who have discovered their identity as children of God and just and peaceful relationships. "Social systems are counterintuitive and dynamical (a technical term meaning non-repeating and nonlinear.) They will selforganize, but they are not particularly amenable to management and control." (15) On the surface, this chapter is a how-to and how-to-be chapter. It is full of advice and incredibly pithy or downright profound sayings. Myers pulls from years of development work to provide both warnings and godly counsel. There is a need to listen to those in the community. Listening needs to happen on several levels. Really hearing what they're saying adds value to their existence. We tend to think linearly and bull our way into a situation where we may or may not be invited. The notion that the locals understand their environment requires Christians to pay attention. After all, they are survivors. Symptoms may come from the real world, but may intermingle with the supernatural. Religious structures most often reflect a need beyond local resources to address. "Asking the community to locate God in its history is a way of helping its members to discover that they are not God-forsaken." (139) "Enabling people to discover and declare their survival strategy is part of healing the marred identity of the poor." (141) Social and survival systems are complex. A pre-arranged plan will likely fail without addressing the whole strata of relationships of the local system. However, you start at the place where the people find themselves. Because the poor have survived to this point means that they know

several things that actually work. That's why scientists today are taking a new look at herbal remedies and practices that actually heal and protect. Even the poorest person knows that water exists under big trees and anthills. It takes humility and patience to understand the poor. This is accomplished when we hold off on management-by-objectives and choose to evaluate the situation frequently. "We have to evaluate often enough to 'learn our way' into the future." (146) Participation by the locals is essential to restoring a healthy relationships with themselves and their community. A step-by-step work model was adapted (148-149) that can serve as a model for P.E.A.C.E. teams to follow. This is the traditional model. However, it excludes many spiritual elements that will separate secular from Christian development work. Characteristics of a holistic practitioner were detailed. The Christian offers the only reliable answer to poverty, because evil is at work, and God is the only antidote. The workers' attitude must be godly to be a neighbor, be patient, humble, learn, and find that God is at work everywhere. Spiritual discernment is necessary because "every moment and every action is potentially transforming. Everything we do carries a message." (151) "Though Christian relief and development agencies do devotions, study, the Bible, and worship together, the church is the only community that God has chosen to be the home and family of God's people. A local church is God's choice for the community of the Word, the place where the sacraments and local accountability are to be found." (154) On Job Training (OJT) works very well. Nobody can ever learn enough. We must rely on the Holy Spirit and God's Word. The right people with the right gifts doing the right work is the aim. Training will only work when it is intentional and systematic "formal training, hands-on experience, and mentoring, both within the agency, and, if at all possible, through the churches [that the] agency staff attend." (158) Workers are stretched to the point of needing care and counseling. They discover new truths about God and about themselves. If they don't then something is wrong. The grind and encroaching cynicism can result over time if the worker doesn't step away at regular intervals. "Holistic practioners who give up everythingthemselves, their marriages, the well-being of their childrento be successful among the poor, are not doing the work of God. They are making idols of either their work or of the poor." (163) An appendix to this chapter could be used in developing a job description or evaluation of a worker.

Chapter 7: Development Practice: The Tool Kit

The "tool kit" is a review of questionnaires, surveys, and other interview techniques that social workers and community developers have used over the years. Most of these are very secular. After a review of these methods, Myers centered on tools that are very appropriate for Christians to use in cross-cultural ministry among the poor. Instead of just focusing on problems, this new approach, called "Appreciative Inquiry" builds on what the community (or the poor are) already

doing right. The "AI" approach is so positive that it makes the other methods seem to wallow in drudgery of the problems. The chapter also includes strong suggestions for trying to help women and children. The traditional development approaches view the community as cesspool of festering problems that need fixing. It places the development workers into the role of rescuers, which Myers repeatedly hammers away as being great for Western agencies seeking fame and successful fundraising, but in the long-term being detrimental to the poor. When Westerners understand their bias about their own cultural assumptions and ideas of right and wrong, then more objectivity is possible for transformation. The problem with most community development programs happens right at the original assessment. That is why Myers keeps hammering away at principles and offers these "tools." "If we do not understand the whole family of systemssocial, personal/psychological, spiritual, and culturalour assessment of cause and response is limited." (170) The P.E.A.C.E. Practitioner will need to understand Christ is almost always removed from any analysis process by secular sources. Community development programs have been described by the brainiest researchers as "the process by which vulnerabilities are reduced and capacities increased." (Anderson and Woodrow, Harvard, 1989, 171) At least one Christian researcher cries for spiritual transformation. "Ultimately all power belongs to God. Thus the slogan power to the people is not a biblical concept for the poor or the non-poor" (Christian 1994, 172). In the early 1990s, two analyses of social development offered two planning tools that provide a bedrock of analysis Myers liked Rapid Rural Appraisal in the 1980s and noted that it was updated to become the PLAParticipatory Learning and Action. The PLA provides a series of probing questions that helps outsiders interact with the poor to better understand their situation. Myers says one strength of PLA is that it can be used to give the poor (including women and children) the empowerment to become their own advocate on the governmental and business strata. "Appreciative Inquiry" is given an in-depth look. "Instead of looking for what is wrong or missing and then developing problem-solving responses, it looks for what is working, successful, and life-giving, and attempts to see additional possibilities." (176) By imagining a wholesome future, the poor have a beacon to guide them. Myers makes that case for AI and PLA working together so that positive investigation is possible from the outset. In Sri Lanka, one irrigation scheme developed by Norman Uphoff has been successful using AI for seven years. Myers adds, "Together, ideas, ideals, and friendships (relationships) release social energy, energy needed to overcome resistance to change that lives within the poor and non-poor alike." (179) Myers invested several pages examining what can be learned from development transformation. The worker needs to know who will benefit from evaluation, the changes that it brought (in identity, jobs, relationships, and values), and the lives changed. Myers advocates working so closely with the poor that when plans are developed that the community be able to tell "how well

we lived up to all this and to what degree its members shared our vision and value. I suspect a lot of learning would take place." (185)

Critical issues
The two biggest issues are women and children. Myers stressed the importance of listening to women and children. Cultural values often suppress the poorest segments of the poor from having a voice or a choice in their own solutions. 1. Myers holds out that women are the key to transformation in almost every culture because of food preparation and childcare responsibilities. Often they know things that the men in a community do not know. Women are traditionally more relational in daily interactions. They share ideas, innovations, and can talk bad about unproductive methods and also through ignorance maintain stigmas. "The incarnation is particularly attractive to women because they tend to see God at work in everyday activities such as getting food and washing clothes." (190) The AI approach seems to work well with women because they tend to be more intuitive and compassionate. 2. Children are usually the most voiceless in the society. They are seen like "passive recipients of development aid." (191) Children are the future. Childhood is when values are formed. Physical development requires nutrition to fuel healthy brain and body functions. And there are so many of them! Children comprise approximately 40% of the Third World population. (191) Children can bring change to their own people. In many productive places, children have formed committees to address issues that are important to themabuse, violence, drinking, addictions, and even political corruption. AI helps them articulate a dream for a new future. 3. A Western sense of time (and timing) doesn't always jive with the pace of life among the poor. Sustainable transformation is not slave to an arbitrary timetable. Chronology is helpful in carrying out activities (wells dug and graduation from school), but changing the identity and job-creation requires a different pace. Impatience is a detriment to most projects. 4. Don't tune out the spiritual side of life. Community development work often centers on the physical plight demanding our attention and "values, religious practices, spiritual oppression, and the like limits our development response as Christians." (193) Few, if any, causes of poverty or ill will credit "spirits, demons, curses, ancestors, godsshrines, sacred trees, and places no one will go to at night." (194) Most communities trust that visitors to their cultural retain some sort of power. Some have technological power, while others see economics, political power, and other environment-influencing strata. But how do the poor detect that a Christian's source of anything is from God alone when only, say, technology or business practices are being implemented? And that is often why benevolence might be rejectedit would offend the local deities. "Since the daily life of traditional cultures is devoted to managing the power and control of the unseen spirit world, they are quite sensibly weighing the cost of innovation." (195) Fate (karma) often has a hand in explaining whatever the villagers cannot grasp. One of the most important questions a Christian can ask is, "What influences these areas of your life?" (196) In one village in India, seven of eight causes of the people's problems were believed by the people to be supernatural in nature.

Four appendices were included at the end of this chapter.

Chapter 8: Christian Witness and Transformational Development

Agencies must understand the opportunities and challenges they face as Christians. Although witnessing is not an option, there is concern for how this is carried out among the poor. The trick is to marry development principles with witness. Lesslie Newbigin's contributions include unifying three major forces: life, deed, and word. Myers sees the continuum of holistic approaches blurring the lines between evangelism and discipleship. Where the secular developer wants changed lives and changed relationships improved among people in a community, the Christian wants the life relationships ultimately improved through knowing God. Sharing the entire biblical story is one major key to success. "It is the whole biblical story that carries the account of who we are and what we are for, that declares the lordship of Christ over all of creation and all our relationships." (18) One of the best contributions was helping Christians interpret science and technology so that it points the poor away from man's efforts so that a relationship is deepened with the Lord. Because of Myers' close relationship with New Tribes Mission, he endorses Chronological Bible Teaching. Christians should not be ashamed or shy away from opportunities to convey their witness among the poor. "Christian witness is the beginning of transformation." (204) Evangelism must be intentional to be effective. "This is not a call for proselytism; neither is it a call to coercive, manipulative, or culturally insensitive evangelism. It is not even a call for development practioners to become evangelists. Rather it is a call to be sure we do our development with an attitude that prays and yearns for people to know Jesus Christ." (205) Myers understands evangelism as verbally communicating the good news of God's grace rather than "propositional statements." (206) It is more than a set of ideas, but a relationship available for everybody. It is literally a new story for us, the community, and from God. In a community deep in the Sahara, a well was being dug by a Christian humanitarian aid organization. When the people were asked to describe what was going on, the people said they were witch doctors divining the spirits of the ground to send up water and consulting a magic book to seek power, just as their imams did with the Qur'an. The people said that they were very good witch doctors because they never failed to locate water. Unfortunately, the workers tried explaining the technology which the villagers took to be a mystical explanation of how the gods worked. An explanation should always be ready to explain in terms of God's creative power and His wisdom as His servants. Otherwise, idolatry and the occult are glorified. Many cultures will view a Christian's benevolent efforts as earning points for salvation; a worksbased mentality prevalent in Roman Catholic, Muslim and Buddhist cultures. Even explanations of God's power at work only results in eventual secularization of the community. "As soon as the people figure out, as in the West have, that technology works without God as part of the explanation, in time God is dropped from the explanation." (207) Instead, we want people to worship God at the end of our efforts.

Christians often carry a self-righteous attitude into the field. They don't mean to most of the time, but they confess knowing where eternity is headed and hold all the answers for the poor. Instead of humbly sharing the gifts God bestowed on them, they inadvertently convey god complexes. Development work always surfaces questions. Something is changing and they want to know why it is happening. Development workers must make their lifestyle, their words, and their deeds resonate with God's story. This is what Jesus did, what Peter preached at Pentecost, and what Stephen communicated leading up to his martyrdom. Life, word, and deed are the keys to Christian witness that transforms relationships, alters a community's story, and ushers people to the throne of God. Don't separate life, deed, and wordthey're part of the holistic mix. The PLA and AI toolkit described in Chapter 7 only go so far. The worker's incarnational presence must be for a reason. It must constantly focus on the Lord. Invitations are crucial. This is not arrogant or "imperialistic," but a call from the heart of God. "The gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news that we have, better than community mobilization or development technology." (212) Don't compartmentalize evangelism separate from discipleship. We tend to move on to others after they accept Christ as Savior. By moving on, we miss the opportunity to have people understand Christ as Lord. The Christian walk is not a series of facts to accept. Living as Christ wants us is a moral imperative. New converts need to be assured of their faith, too. Conveying the Old Testament is extremely important, and often overlooked in a rush to get to the cross. Most cultures can closely identify with Israel's struggles and need to know the hope of anticipating a Messiah. [They need to know why it was necessary for Jesus to come and save them instead of obedience to endless cycles of rituals, sacrifices, and regulations.] Christian witness is defined as living exemplary lives with the mind of Christ. Christian workers must see "the fingerprints of God" in their daily lives as well as in the work. (217) For every lie that is challenged, the Truth must replace it. Psalm 104 was lauded as a metaphor for seeing the fingerprints of Goda model for workers to use in explaining God at work. Powerful example (220-221): On people group believed that they were eternally cursed by the Hindu god Krishna. A rival god tempted Krishna by an evil woman who bore a dark-skinned forefather of this people group. When the unwanted son accidentally killed Krishna's favorite bull, he was cursed. The group explained this banishment was why they left the Himalayas and relocated in India. Of course everything in their lives would be cursed! Nobody loved them or sought to bring them out of poverty. Poverty was the marred identity of these people. Any number of new wells would not change this people group's perceptions on life and their role in it. Myers called for a new set of stories to replace their old story. The challenge was to recompose it through recognizing God created everyone and everything. The deception of sin and the fact that we are all sinners apart from God's grace has transforming power. They must understand that they have been deceived; a cause of their poverty. As Paul and Barnabas were treated as gods for a miracle (Acts 14:11), so may the workers' efforts be misinterpreted. Deeds and words and life must be explained in the way that everyone can grasp and attain in their own life. Technology can kill or heal; science can fall short of a promised set of solutions. Those who seek power often see the unexplained through a set of

different interpretations. Do we communicate that God made the universe with its" natural and moral laws?" (223) Christians must speak up, make corrections in love, and commit to constantly share our faith and its direct correlation to what is going on in the work and why. Some people groups (Masai example) complained that Christians waited until acts of benevolence were accomplished before sitting down to explain their faith. The Bible must be the Christian's source for truthand communicate that truth on a regular basis. God's Word is "the only true and unbiased source of guidance to the goals and means of human transformation." (225) The Bible is more than a book, it is a living word that communicates creative acts in history and places the human condition within a cosmic context. "The Bible lies trapped in Sunday Schools, churches, and Bible study groups, where Christians use it for spiritual development. Our first challenge is to free the Bible from its spiritual captivity and allow it to engage and speak to the whole of human life." (227) The Bible cannot be held so holy that it cannot speak to the heart of those who need the Words of Life. Language choices and even Scripture that is shared should engaged the poor such that it leads them to a personal encounter of their own. Myers advocates "Scripture Search" study methodology where the Bible "is less a source of rules or a conceptual foundation and more of a creative encounter with God and the story God has chosen to tell us." (229) In other words, use the Bible to relate to the context of morals, right living, life applications, addressing issues, and contributing to the community's spiritual understanding. [This is akin to addressing the bridges and barriers to the gospel within the worldview.] Scripture Search methodology is part of the holistic development process captured in a Bible study's Seven Steps: invite, read, view with wonder, listen, share, group tasks, and pray. "We need to keep our hopes for transformation clearly in mind so that the way we witness, the content of our witness, and the way we use the Bible address the important transformational frontiers." (234) Those frontiers are the spiritual root causes of poverty. This requires inviting the poor to investigate the biblical story for themselves. The use of PLA and AI tools helps people to see what is right according to God's standards. This alignment with God's story helps them gain a new identity and work for God and the betterment of their fellow man apart from sin. Transformation happens when relationships are just and peaceful. Christ's lordship applies to five levels: God, self, community, "other"the banished or enemies, and the environment. The poor need a renewed identity, meaningful work, to find their voice, and understand their place in the world. Change happens in the household in which families overcome vices and addictions, assimilate prisoners back into society, marital fidelity, reprioritization on mutual respect, and put an emphasis on education for students. After changes in the household, comes Christian changes in the social system including politicians taking their roles more seriously, the environmental problems are addressed, and cultural relationships with the poor are changed. Worldview must be changed by Christian witness through the Bible story changing the culture story to become a people whom God wants to bless. Worldview must change in beliefs and values so that behavior changes. Dialog is the key between Christians and the poor, recognizing

that everyone has things that need changing; none are perfect except the Lord. Who is being worshipped? Christians must probe for changes at the heart levelthe "missing middle" of folk religion full of magic and hidden beliefs. Christianity cannot exist with external and the internal being different. Myers calls this polluted system folk Christianity; a result of missing various levels of a person's worldview. "People try to live as Christians in their spiritual life and be like good moderns in their material life, while still being bound to their animism. This explains the actions of some Christians who go to the doctor for medical advice, ask the church to pray for healing, and visit the shaman at night." (239) Christians always look for the underlying spiritual cause to poverty. The transformational Christian development worker must work at the worldview level with an open-mind, caution, and with a set of skills that leads to change. Praying and fasting are tools that prepare us for the spiritual discernment God provides. Myers listed several examples of how workers were willing to listen and learn without quickly judging. When the Christian worker assumes the stance that everyone needs to change, then we become fellow learners and avoid god complexes. "We do not have to speak positively about our faith by speaking negatively about theirs." (241) Today, governments (especially Western governments) insist that the spiritual and religious be separate from the development work. Governments see Christian involvement only as an excuse to get people to convert. "This demand for purely materialistic programming is at complete odds with the holistic worldview of most of the people who are the recipients of development aid. Whether the poor are animists, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, or Hindus, they believe in an integrated spiritual-physical universe." (242) If we believe that there is no development without change in values, then what is left is "secular liberal democratic" ideology. (242) Christians must not forget that other religious and even atheist groups are engaged in development efforts. "The driving force for Christian witness in the context of transformational development is to be sure that credit is given where credit is duethat good deeds that create and enhance life in the community are evidence of the character and activity of the God of the Bible, the God whose Son makes a continuing invitation to new life and whose Spirit is daily at work in our world." (244) Three appendices were at the end of this chapter.