Community and Societal Development

How can cross-cultural development workers help communities and societies thrive by following godly principles?


by Ron and Carolyn Klaus

The authors share a story about a young man whose tribe had been attacked, his farm burned, and a close relative killed. Without any outside encouragement, he walked into the attacking tribe’s territory. Their leaders encircled him in a threatening way. “Wait,” he said. “Before you do anything, I have something to say. I want to tell you that I forgive you. And I want to ask your forgiveness for the things that members of my tribe have done to you.” He said it first confused the attackers. They could not understand what he was saying. Then, once they grasped it, their hearts melted. They laid down their weapons and began a conversation on how the two tribes could make peace.

Ron also shares that It it helps to realize that God is more interested in executing justice than we are, and will inevitably do so, if not in this world, certainly in the next. Therefore, when we forgive, we are not minimizing the hurt, pretending to forget it, or giving up on getting restitution. We are merely transferring our case into God’s court.

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The Problem of Poverty in Metro Manila, Philippines

by Kumar Aryal

Corruption, lack of education, population growth, and natural disasters are the main causes of the persistent poverty in the Philippines. Evangelical Christians are visible in responding to poverty in the Philippines, but the majority of their programs and services meet immediate needs, which has the tendency to create dependency, instead of development, if continued over a long period of time. Evangelicals seem to have a very minimal partnership with the government, instead going directly to the poor to avoid a long government process, and not wanting government officials to pocket the money that should go to the poor. Compounding the inadequate evangelical response is that there seems to be a lack of collaboration among evangelical Christian churches and NGOs in responding to poverty in the Philippines.

This research shows that in addition to the four causes of poverty in Metro Manilla, there are four types of poverty. When economic, psychological, social, and spiritual poverty are addressed in an integrated manner, poor people will experience shalom, which is the goal of holistic development.

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Poverty and the Christian Mission

by Ralph D. Winter

Winter wrote this article while serving in Guatemala in 1958. These are some of the discussion questions he added 50 years later:

• How many evidences do you see in this document which clearly indicate that it was written a long time ago?

• What evidences do you see of an awareness even back then of the phenomenon of “Globalization”?

• What do you feel is the most radical difference between the Guatemalan situation described and the situation of a U. S. congregation? How easily is this difference understood by U. S. donors?

• Why, according to this document is the giving of food not an adequate answer?

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Analysis of the American Immigration Crisis and a Crisis in the First Epistle of John through the Lens of a Social Scientific Model

by Beth Snodderly


A social science model, called a “status degradation ritual,” can help us understand some of the dynamics in the way people sometimes relate to others in a time of crisis. This article looks at a community crisis in the First Epistle of John and notes how the author used the elements of a status degradation ritual to try to solve the problem. The author’s community was having to distinguish between “the children of God,” and those who are having their status degraded to “children of the devil.” In this article I consider if this model also applies to the way some politicians talk about asylum seekers fleeing violence in their home countries. Do the degrading comments by top leaders put those people in a position of being seen and treated as non-persons? Might the similarities and differences between these 1st and 21st century crises help Jesus-followers know how to respond to current immigration issues?

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The Nature of Slavery and Its Imprint on Culture

by Jennifer Winters


Today slavery is almost universally condemned as evil, and absolutely unacceptable, but the practice of slavery has been the rule of history and not the exception. Philosophers and politicians such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and many others believed slavery was the normal and necessary way of life. No culture can claim total freedom for all of its members, although some societies have done better at identifying slavery and allowing freedom to thrive. What are the elements of slavery in our modern day?  The goal of this article is to expose the elements and characteristics of slavery, how it grows in a society, and then how it declines. It is no coincidence that the fight to end slavery occurred in the Christian world. The reason why the failure to fully end it seems so atrocious is because it stands in stark contrast to the ideals of freedom given by the Hebraic Christian faith. Slavery has been a stumbling block leading one to infer that there is something in the nature of mankind that descends towards the practice of enslaving others while at the same time acknowledging it as an injustice. By the same reasoning it can be said that people do not choose freedom for others, just for themselves. If one does not choose freedom for one’s self and others one will be enslaved.  I hope that this paper will lead men and women to choose freedom over slavery.

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Cameroon’s Failure to Develop Agricultural Growth

by Etienne Siama


Dans sa quête pour l’émergence à l’horizon 2035 tel que mentionné par le DSCE, le Cameroun s’est doté d’une SNDR. A mesure  que le temps passe, les objectifs assignés tardent à se réaliser et ceux d’autant plus que l’environnement de la zone du plus grand producteur de riz souffre des affres de l’insécurité, auxquelles viennent s’ajouter les défis de l’ouverture des marchés. Productrice de la denrée alimentaire la plus consommée au monde, la SEMRY est, en plus des forces de son environnement, victime de sa gouvernance. Elle est sous « assistance respiratoire », ne vit  que des subventions et ne produit aucun résultat positif. Les équipements agricoles sont usés et certains rudimentaires ; c’est encore la main d’œuvre humaine qui fait le gros du travail pour une production déplorable.   


On its quest for emergence by 2035 as indicated in the Strategy paper for growth and employment (GESP), Cameroon defined a National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS). As time passes, set objectives linger to be achieved, especially as the largest rice producing zone is gravely affected by insecurity, a situation which is compounded by the challenge of opening markets. Producer of the most consumed food in the world, SEMRY is, in addition to the forces of its environment, a victim of its governance. She is under "Respiratory assistance", lives only on subsidies and produces no positive results. Agricultural equipment is worn and some rudimentary; it is still the human labor that does most of the work for a deplorable production.

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The Plight of the Talibé: How Theology and Development Theory Inform Social Action in Senegal

by Brett D. Molter

Wherever there are communities of people living together, social injustice exists. One such social injustice existing in many of the world’s nations today is that of child trafficking. This article seeks to examine the plight of the talibé of Senegal in light of development theory and how it might address this most pressing social injustice issue. Furthermore, through exegeting Scripture, this article will address theological implications of engaging in social injustice issues and what followers of Jesus could be doing to aid in its eradication. Finally, suggestions will be given for future research concerning the plight of the talibé and how might the country of Senegal be further affected if this exploitation of boys is allowed to continue.

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Reflection: Embracing Evil

by Kenton Moody

All I could see was the 666 looming in front of my eyes. What should I do? There were other numbers inked predominantly on almost every available space on his body—the number 18 from the 18th Street gang.

We were in one of the youth detention centers in El Salvador that house young men many of whom have been involved in some type of gang activity. It has been said, “If they weren’t gang members before going in, they will be by the time they leave.” My wife and I have been visiting the center for almost two years getting to know the young men and trying to help them.

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Christian Witness in the Context of Boko Haram: A Call for Moderation

by Dave Datema

The Boko Haram (“Westernization is sacrilege”) movement literally exploded onto the world stage in 2009 in Nigeria and has been the most active expression of militant, Salafist Islam in Africa ever since. Boko Haram began as a response to secularization in the form of colonialism and Christian mission. In this paper I give an overview of the origin, ideology and impact of Boko Haram in Nigeria. I then promote and explain the thesis that in the context of Boko Haram as a response to secularization, moderation in Christian witness is a virtue.

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Reflection: A Model for Sustainable Transformation

by Ron and Carolyn Klaus

We stumbled into cross-cultural work late in our lives. Our initial efforts were targeted at the AIDS pandemic because of Carolyn’s medical background and experience in treating people with this disease. It seemed clear to us that the Church is the logical institution to lead the way in dealing with this pandemic. We now believe the Church is the best possible agent, in fact, to do development of all sorts. But today’s Church seems far from doing this, except in a token way. We now believe that only a very different kind of Church will accomplish the radical transformation of vulnerable people that God yearns to bring about as part of his kingdom’s coming.

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The Role of Religion in International Development

by Paul Hiebert

If religion, anthropologically defined, is at the core of any lasting development, then what is the religion that drives programs of modern secular development? The answer is nationalism. The state does not speak for the cosmos, but for a community of people; it is inherently ethnocentric. … It is a secular religion that promises to satisfy human nature and succeed in its work. … National self-interest wins out over sacrifice for humanity.

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Why We Still Debate If “Culture Matters”: A Way Forward

by Kevin Brinkmann

If leading economists, sociologists, and historians for the past 250 years have argued that “culture matters” to development, why is it still debated? And, as a result, not integrated into development policy? Two explanations for this lacunae are (1) a fear of repeating past mistakes from the colonial era and (2) a lack of concrete, quantitative, internationally comparable data. The article points to way forward: create an statistical database using existing international indices of cultural variables to inform development policy and initiatives. 

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Editor Comment
Intentional Student Involvement in City-Building and Development in Cambodia

by Hakchul Kim

For Cambodians to find the right way to develop their country, they need worldview education, biblical values education, and attitude or character education. NIBC has started many schools from kindergarten through college in order to provide a fresh start for the people recovering from the psychological and physical destruction caused by the Pol Pot regime and the killing fields.

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Adopting a Human-Rights Based Approach to International Development

by Stanley Arumugam

It is only in the past decade that religion has been recognized as critical to ensuring sustainable international development efforts. This article focuses on the significant historical contribution of evangelical Christianity in international development and explores some of the ideological tensions that challenge partnership with secular organizations.

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Reflection: Mother Teresa and Ramesh

by Ravi Jayakaran

Using the “Observe-Study-Inference” (OSI) principle, I have studied actual events of transformation and made inferences from these, including the story told here of Mother Teresa and Ramesh. My basic assumption is that transformation is a “Default Intent” of the Creator. That is why I have defined transformation as “progressive, permanent God-intended change.” God intended for transformation to take place in all the people He created, and the scriptures make this amply clear. It is His desire that it happen. As development professionals, we should put all our energy and effort into facilitating transformation, and countering everything that intends to prevent it.

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