Written by: Dwayne W.
Covid disrupted so much on a local and global level. Suddenly, almost overnight, travel was completely restricted. Different Nations, states and cities all adopted travel restrictions that were not universal. For a short season, I had to carry a letter in my car stating that I was an “essential worker;” otherwise, I wasn’t supposed to travel around my community. (I was never stopped, but nonetheless, the restriction was still there.) At the same moment, jobs all over the globe were shut down and food insecurity became an even bigger issue than it already was. We learned many things during this pandemic season, but one of the biggest takeaways for us is the wisdom of working with Local Care Networks. SOS was able to continue and greatly increased the number of meals we were feeding in Asia, Central America, and right here in Texas because those local care partnerships were already in place and functioning. When disaster hit, we had the opportunity to partner together in greater capacity to discover how to respond and how to get more food. This past season highlighted the need and importance of these partnerships!
So how have we developed this amazing network across the globe?
As we build this community of Local Care Networks, here are three things we seek to learn and discover about every community we engage in:
- What is God already doing in this community? He is at work challenging, calling and equipping people already. As I’ve engaged in building resilient communities over the last 30 years, I seek to discover what He is doing and join with Him. This is the single greatest approach to Community Development.
- Who is already doing something? It is our desire to encourage, equip, empower and resource those who already have a heart to help. We believe this is the best approach. In most places, that means forming new relationships. Strong relationships are vital to building a resilient community.
- What is currently working? You have to learn about the Local Care Networks love for people in the community and you need to learn about the community from them! Then you have to discover if what they are already doing on the small scale can be multiplied in the community. This is found in asking the question, “If the current community solutions are multiplied, could it solve the problems they are addressing?”
The last point to be made here about building a Local Care Network community was highlighted in a book I read over the summer. The author was interviewing a man that is somewhat of an expert in Community Transformation. He’s studied it for years, all over the world. He was once asked what he thought,
“[What was] the single, most radical way, to change society: was it through violent revolution or gradual reform? He gave a careful answer, ‘Neither!’ Rather, he suggested that if one wants to change society, then one must tell an alternative story. One so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story. One so inclusive that it gathers all the bits of our past and our present into a coherent whole; one that even shines some light into the future so we can take the next steps.”
We seek to partner with Local Care Networks that have a vision of the community that is different from the prevailing voices of the day. Their message, through word and deed, must be persuasive, inclusive and tell a different story of how to get there. This is the good news! No one is left out! Hope for a blessed tomorrow.
These are the kinds of folks we are working with! Heroes really! They stepped up, leaned in and allowed the challenges brought by the pandemic to be a catalyst for community development. We want to tell you about a few leaders in the SOS Community. Their stories will inspire you!
N, Local Care Network Partner, Asia *name restricted for protection
N has been a trusted partner of SOS for many years and a close personal friend. During the height of the pandemic, millions of people were forced out of Asian cities to return to their villages. With no public transportation, no food and the threat of illness, millions of people suddenly became at-risk of dying of starvation. We partnered with N to set up emergency food stalls along the long stretches of road, back to villages, literally saving millions of lives. We also provided emergency food and water to villages that were suddenly overrun with people. N’s commitment to love people and ability to quickly adapt helped build resilience in his community.
Cristina, Local Care Network, Latin America
Christina and her husband lead a church in a country in Latin America known for sex tourism. The fallout of this reality is devastating. Christina is helping the at-risk people in her community by rallying her church around them. They run a home for children who are sexually abused as well as provide care for single mothers and their children. We partner with them in protecting trafficking victims and in feeding efforts in Latin America. Christina is building resilience in her community by standing with the abused and rallying others around her to do so as well!
Deputy Biggs, Local Care Network, Texas, USA
Deputy Biggs is the president of a Local Care Network we work with in North Texas. His organization goes into areas of the community with high crime rates to foster a better relationship between its citizens and law enforcement. They do this by showing up as an answer to their communities’ felt needs. Running programs that encourage citizen involvement and participation, Deputy Biggs builds trust and relationships in communities where it was lacking. We partner with Deputy Biggs by providing food, drinks, toys and hygiene items for them to give out in these community outreaches. Deputy Biggs is building resilience in these communities through strategic relationships, trust and actively lowering crime rates.
So I want to challenge you. How can you become a transformative community leader? What is the alternative story you need to tell?
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