Concept of development is part of God’s plan
Carlos Madrazo – Indonesia
The word development per se, does not exist in the Scriptures. Concordances are devoid of references to it. Perhaps the word did not exist during the Aramaic, early Hebrew or Greek linguistic eras. I am no Bible expert- either of old or new testaments nor a linguist able to decipher tone and transform them in words with practical usage. Who knows perhaps the word development or change literally did not exist during those times when the inspired scribes were placing God’s thoughts into words. If the word development did exist then I stand corrected of my ignorance and would like to learn.
From the little that I know, much of what the prophets spoke to their human kings was about change. If those kings did not change their ways of sinfulness and self-aggrandizement as well as recognition, if these kings were not serving their people justly, God’s wrath would follow. Likewise the contextual messages from the Gospels and the Epistle were making implications about change. This time though, not from the context of a God of fear, but the context of a loving and forgiving God. Such change entails some personal tasks and responsibilities in responding to God’s will. Change, from the little that I know, starts with an inspiration through God and from the human heart going outward and not inward.
A seed releasing the power of God’s creation and turning life into a seedling and eventually into edibles leaves or fruits useful to God’s people, to me, is change or development. In short, development is transformational and does not follow easy guidelines prescribed economic, management or so-called development gurus of contemporary times. When some plants are shaded by other taller plants from sunlight, they do bend themselves and continually seek for that source of power to develop inner energy for them to survive and be a service to others. If they fail, they become part of the recycling process of God’s creation. In other words, change or development is not prescriptive or coming from the outside. Rather change or development is descriptive from the context of every human being going about her/his business of living as the seed does; for all are created especially different from one specie to another or from person to person.
Life’s needs are different and so are individual development needs and expectations. These wants may be partly understood at different levels based on values, attitudes and perceptions of things or situations that are considered important. Different societal cultures influence it although at times, it is used as an excuse to forgo tasks and responsibilities. That makes development complicated because there is always a kind of struggle going on in every person’s perception of what may be ethical and moral. To some people, societal value means the accumulation of wealth takes precedence over God’s plan.
In context, development is a case-to-case situation. Whatever that situation may be, letting development work for others peoples’ needs may require initial facilitation. And for development to continue, people in need of change must do it themselves and take charge. For those who are called to assist others, it requires of them a servant attitude in order to facilitate development to evolve amongst people.
In other words, for development to work for people, it must start with people wanting it. They must be fired with enthusiasm and commitment to let change happen. In this context, people needing change should understand what they want to be able to change situations themselves. In practice one has to take a positive attitude. An old Chinese Proverb seem to epitomizes this attitude which states, ” Tell me and I’ll forget; Show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand”
Another way of seeing this is to understand that development programs, do not impact a person groaning from the pangs of hunger or to an individual who is perceiving an uncertain future. Neither does the concept of development mean anything to one who may have just lost everything including perhaps loved ones during the recent Asian tsunami. What these people need is relief and rehabilitation and not development schema.
A development schema can only begin when people feel the need to change destructive habits, patterns or systems related to making life on earth an abundant one. Some situations call for a change in systems that perpetuate social injustices or something to solve man-made problems like deforestation, erosions, floods, food shortage caused by the use of poor plant varieties or the choice of academic curricular offerings which has lost its potential usefulness to graduates because of changing demands of the time, transparencies, and lack of empowerment. However, to make such a plan workable, people concerned with these needs for change must evolve their strategy for change.
The uniqueness in each situation needing development is in essence part of God’s creative plan, to make people His partner in caring for the creation He started in the beginning of time. Such a plan starts with valuing responsible stewardship of God’s beautiful creations. Then it needs a strong re-enforcement of positive attitudes and finally a perception that God is always guiding the direction of change.
Both living beings and non-living things are important to God’s creation, especially human life. This implies that development of human communities – their sources of food, shelter, and clothing as well as their environment – has to be sustainable. Interestingly, learning to value what is God’s only means being able to communicate with the Divine. Large-budget development endeavors done on a global scale in the past four decades have never attained this level of development because it was not blessed by God’s will. Instead, such schema have only compounded and increased man-made problems facing the world today. Instead of reducing the number of problems, such man-created development plans have increased them. These development schemes have been used as an excuse for collusions, manipulations, corruption and the like.
Development therefore, at least to me, is everything that supports God’s plan of allowing every living thing including people to grow and develop themselves to be God’s instruments in serving others. Development in this context does not refer to what the word means in North America or Europe – that of fund raising for the construction of a new edifice or even money to buy a new computer for an office and or feed the hungry.
Development is a transformational process essential to sustainable and responsible human communities. This kind of development intends to serve God’s creative plan. Only God is able to transform human lives and thus change things. People – you and I – are simply God’s instruments toward facilitating the kind of change or development He wants for others to experience and glorify.
Carlos Madrazo is a missionary with the GMIM Synod of the Evangelical Church in Indonesia. He serves as a development worker.