After a presentation last month, a friend who had traveled to Africa told us about all the wasted money and effort he had seen, with projects that died as soon as the Americans were gone, or couldn’t survive without constant support from overseas. We hope our story is different.
Reproducibility is one of the main principles we’re working with. We want to empower local people to repeat what we’ve been doing without our aid. Our work can be duplicated and multiplied without outside assistance.
This works at several different levels. At its simplest, it means we teach people. The key component of rainwater harvesting and biosand filters is that we are teaching, rather than doing. We show people what to do and we hand them the tools.
In order to be repeatable, we must use tools and materials that are available to local people. That’s been a bit of a learning curve for us, because sometimes the tools and materials we prefer aren’t available, or are terribly expensive. We spent a lot of time looking for a line level and chalk line before discovering that local carpenters use a water level (a hose full of water). I’d rather use a line level, but water levels are easy to make. Water levels are reproducible, so that’s what we will be using.
This is especially true for our Bible teaching. We’ve been blessed with a whole lot of Bible study tools and skills that aren’t locally available. It’s nice to be able to read in the original language and look things up in your favorite commentary, but those tools just aren’t available to most people (even in North America). We were very impressed with Discovery Bible Study, which is a system of teaching that is repeatable even in an environment where many people cannot read in their own language. It doesn’t depend on people with outside resources or a lot of education.
This isn’t a new idea. I am reminded of my childhood among the Cree nation. Having been exposed to a lot of teaching that relied on some commentary or church father, the church on the reservation insisted that Bible teaching be done using only the Bible; no other sources were allowed. That wasn’t Dad’s rule, it was theirs, but it was a good rule. They could follow the lesson (and teach it again) using resources they already had.
Our work for the Lord should live on after we are gone. The things we do must be reproducible, so the people we teach can teach others using their own resources.