What is CHE?
CHE stands for Community Health Evangelism. It is a missions strategy that integrates evangelism and discipleship with community based development. Our church is a partner with the Global CHE Network, a network made up of churches and organizations from many different denominations who work together in wholistic and transformational ministry throughout the world.
What is Our Mindset in Our Strategy? (Relief vs Development)
For many years, we have done missions through what is known as a “Relief Mentality”, that is we went into a community, brought in resources from America and did a project for the people (i.e. construct a building, medical clinics, etc.). As we went further down this road, there came a dissatisfaction with the results of the methodology…1) the buildings would go un-maintained by the people after we left, 2) the people in the medical clinics would get sick again with the same illnesses that plagued them when we treated them, and 3) we were not building sustained relationships with people nor were we having time to engage them with the Gospel due to our hard work building and treating illnesses. Our intentions were good and pure…but something was not sitting well within our spirits.
When we read the book, “When Helping Hurts”, we found a voice to our frustration, but were still unsure of the answer as far as our strategy goes. Then we were introduced to CHE and wholistic ministry. We began to see how the Gospel and missions were uniquely intertwined in everything we do. The Gospel is about more than just spiritual health…it is physical, emotional, social, everything that we are. God cares for us and has a design for us to walk in complete peace and harmony with Himself, with ourselves, with others, and with creation.
Now, rather than going into a community, bringing in outside resources and doing things for them; we go into communities upon their invitation, bringing no resources other than ourselves, the Word of God, and training to equip them to live the lives that He has called them to live…as a picture of the Gospel and hope of restoration before those around them. Our aim is that they do not become dependent upon us, but on God who is their Sustainer, Savior, and Redeemer. We go to empower them to live as godly stewards of the resources that the Lord has blessed them with so that they will make an impact for the Kingdom in their community and that as their community transforms through the power of the Gospel, they will then take it to other communities and multiply the Kingdom for the glory of God!
What is Health?
Often when this question is asked, the first answer that comes up is about physical health. Our first thought is about our physical bodies. But whole health is much more than just our physical bodies. Whole health involves many things such as food, clean water, medication, education, friends, purpose in life, employment, peace with God, emotional stability, rest, strong families, safety, etc. When we talk about health, we are talking about the whole person.
What is Poverty?
Many times in the West we look at the world around us and define poverty as “a lack of stuff”. A truer view of poverty would define it as “brokenness”. The world we live in is broken, every bit of it. We are all impoverished. We are broken in our relationship with God. We are broken in our relationship with ourselves. We are broken in our relationship with others. And we are broken in our relationship with creation. The brokenness of the world extends beyond our individual relationships as well. All of our economic, political, religious and social systems are broken. There is not a single thing in this world that is not tainted by the effects of sin and in need of redemption and restoration.
The Hope of the Gospel (Restoration)
In the beginning, we see that God created the entire world in 6 days. He said at the end of it that it was “very good”. In looking at the story we see that God dwelled with man and walked with him regularly in the garden. There was peace and harmony in man’s relationship with God, which informed and shaped his other relationships (with himself, with others, and with creation). But the enemy (the serpent) entered into the garden and deceived the woman. When she and the man ate the fruit of the tree which God had specifically told them not to eat, disharmony and brokenness came into the world. The Lord made a promise in speaking to the serpent that He would send One who would one day have victory over the serpent’s plan to destroy all that the Lord had created. The Lord then shed the blood of an animal and covered the sin and shame of the Adam and Eve, showing us the ugliness of sin and how it must be dealt with. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, we have countless pictures of what the Messiah would be like and do as well as numerous prophets that were sent by God to proclaim that the Messiah would come to rescue mankind and restore peace and harmony to all of God’s creation.
Jesus Christ is the One that God sent. He came to this earth and lived the life that we could not live (in perfect obedience and submission to God’s law)…He was pure and innocent, undeserving of death and punishment. He died the death that we should have died (He willingly laid down His own life as a sacrifice)…letting His blood be shed in order to pay the price for the sin/disobedience/rebellion of all mankind for all time. And 3 days later, He rose back to life…victory over sin and death, ready to offer us the forgiveness and future restoration that we desperately need!
For all of those who place the faith in Jesus Christ and the work of salvation He accomplished on behalf of us, there is hope! Not only are we at peace with God now, but when we look at Isaiah 11:6-9 and Revelation 21-22, we see the picture of the New Heaven and New Earth…our eternal home. Just like in the Garden of Eden, the tree of life is there and God will dwell with mankind there. It is a place where death and suffering are no more. It is a place where peace and harmony characterize our relationships with God, self, others, and creation.
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
The call of God on our lives now as believers, those who have surrendered our lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ, is to be a picture of peace and harmony with God, self, others, and creation; like it was in the Garden and like it will one day be in Eternity. We are to be a picture of peace in harmony in the “in-between”, in the here and now of this age, so that we can point others to the hope that is in Christ.
How Does it Work?
As we develop relationships around the world and talk about the strategy, the Lord raises up a “champion” for a community. A “champion” is someone who has a heart for their community and is interested in CHE. The “champion” will then talk with several of the community leaders and invite us to do a Vision Conference (a 3 to 4 day conference in which we introduce the biblical principles as well as the strategy for CHE to the group of leaders). At the end of the Vision Conference we ask them if they would like to “pull the rope” (invite us back for more training in order to establish a CHE program in their community). If, after the community has prayed and discussed the solution of CHE to the whole health issues of their community, and deem that it is the route they feel the Lord is leading them to go, they will “pull the rope”.
The next step after the rope has been pulled is that we will send a training team from MeadowBrook to this particular community in order to conduct a TOT 1 (Training of Trainers). A TOT 1 is approximately 5 to 6 days in length and allows the community to really engage in the biblical principles of CHE and begin to organize themselves into the various roles of the CHE program (Trainers, Committee, and CHEs).
Within the training, our goal is not to be seen by the community as the ones who have all the answers and resources. Our aim is to empower them to see that God has gifted them to see their needs and resources, and to do something to fix them through His strength and provision. With this is mind, the training is conducted in a circle where everyone is sitting down, including the facilitator (us). This is done because in the circle, everyone is equal and has a voice, regardless of social, political or tribal status. The facilitator makes great use of questions and small group discussions in order for all the participants to engage and discover God’s dream for their lives and their community.
After the TOT 1, the community then begins to act within their particular CHE roles.
The Committee members are the overseers of the program. Some of their main responsibilities are to identify the needs and issues of the community, prioritize them, and then plan and implement projects and strategies to deal with them. They also give oversight to the CHEs.
The Trainers are the one who spend time training the Committee members and CHEs what to do in their roles. They are hands on in home visits with the CHEs until the CHEs are equipped to go on their own. The Trainers also responsible to be the missionaries and initiate other CHE programs in other communities.
The CHEs (Community Health Evangelists) are the ones who teach physical and spiritual health lessons in regular home visits throughout their community. They are the frontline evangelists and disciple-makers. They must first model physical and spiritual health in their own homes before they go and teach the lessons in other peoples’ homes. CHEs generally will visit between 8-12 homes two times per month teaching lessons and building relationships with families in their community.
Once the program is up and running, we return for TOT 2, which will give them further training in how to evangelize, how to make decisions, set objectives, step plan, evaluate, build a team, manage projects and people, and report data. Other trainings that follow TOT 2 will focus on discipleship strategy, Bible storying, character/moral lessons, and big picture thinking on creating a transformational movement through CHE.