The most effective development workers understand the art and discipline of listening and focusing on the beating heart of communities, working with their spiritual energies and assets that God has given to move towards His vision. This can be very challenging at times, especially for those of us influenced by individualistic societies that place high value on personal choice and individual achievements.
"The most effective development workers understand the art and discipline of listening and focusing on the beating heart of communities."
Lionel Hampton, a renowned drummer and jazz musician, once said “drumming was the best way to get close to God”. Drumming requires the mind to be still and focused, ironically in the cacophony of sound it produces. Similarly in working with communities, our mind needs to be focused on God’s work with people and strengthening their capacity. Drumming together requires each person to listen to the natural beat of God in each other, always ready to respond to spontaneous expressions of energy and joy. It requires aligning our personal priorities and desires with the circle of people we are called to work with.
There are two stories that come to mind as I think about how people “drumming together” with communities can foster development.
One of them is a story of the widow featured in 2 Kings 4 where she is instructed by Elisha to go around and ask all her neighbors for empty jars so that she could fill them with oil. By doing so, she was able to overcome poverty.
The other is Joyce Atuku, a single mother of five children in Uganda. By joining a village savings group in Lubanga, she received training from World Renew’s church partner and a small loan to start a business selling soap, onions, salt and cooking oil from her home. Now she is able to provide basic needs for her children. She attributes this change in her family’s well-being to the moral and social support of her group. By “drumming together” in their weekly meetings, she found great joy and knowledge!
Today there are many families in the camps with about a million refugees near Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.
We try to “drum together” with them and World Food Program to ensure they have rice, red lentils, cooking oil, and salt. So what is their dream as they drum for a better life? They talk about having some fish added to meals, a few more clothes, cooking pots and even a bit of oil to put on their heads to keep them cool. They also have a deeper dream, which is God’s dream too, for justice and dignity and for a day when oppression will finally stop!
World Renew Canada