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A community of practice for facilitating response to critical health and development issues
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GLoCon > Findings

Findings

Experience with HIV from the earliest days of the epidemic, and 30 years of health and faith development practice in various environments, have given us a window into many communities. Based on communities where we have seen 20-25 years of response to their issues, and the experience of accompanying them, three lessons stand out:

1. Neighbourhoods matter

Communities have strengths, in every culture and context. Community is broadly defined as a group with a sense of belonging, that has functions of living, acting, and problem-solving together. The word 'community' in English is applied so broadly that it can be difficult to identify in practice. For our purposes, we use community with the subset of neighbourhood, to indicate the geography of local homes and connections.

We draw illustrations and lessons from locations that have taken significant action to confront local concerns over many years. In these locations issues of drugs, addiction, HIV and the impact of these on families and neighbourhoods are still a challenge. But the response has changed. People and communities continue to find strength together if they have the experience of moving from passive helplessness or fatalism, to hopeful, caring, support and prevention.

Home and neighbourhood are essential in relation to centres of care to produce results and sustained effects that organizations cannot achieve through programs alone.

2. Organisations should adapt

Faith, health, and development leaders seek influence, continuity of care, and impact on the issues - to make a difference. The combination of home, neighbourhood, and centre has been a learning ground that consistently shows a pattern of sustained response when each is activated.

Organisations should adapt programs to engage homes and their neighbourhoods, through SALT and community counselling. Organisations can play a facilitation role, to connect and encourage the transfer of experience within and between neighbourhoods. The fruit of adaptation is a stronger voice for advocacy, and the potential for health and faith movements.

3. Personal faith is a wellspring for response

Communities that sustain response to the challenges they face are filled with people of faith, who apply faith in their daily lives as a source of strength, joy, and perseverance. How do experiences of care and change in the face of difficult issues help people to see the grace of God as the source of their strength?

Integrated mission is a grace-inspired and strengths-based way of understanding people, where they are in their reality, as having a God-given potential to respond.

We learn to see patterns of response as we participate in the circles of neighbourhood, home, and programme centre. We use the practices of observation and analysis of experience, with strategic questions to apply the experience to what happens next. We reflect on Scripture and on how we see God at work in ourselves and others.

Integrated mission is based on action and reflection, within an applied and practical theology.

As Christians, we inhabit a theology of incarnation and grace. God is present in every place and situation, where people can reach out and find him (Acts 17:24-28).

Mission defined from Hosea 6:1-3 is 'to live in his presence'. We seek to live in God's presence together with our neighbours and friends, and point to Christ as the source of grace, strength, reconciliation and transformation. Practices of integrated mission have been developed, supported, and sustained with the frameworks collected here.

SALT (Support and Learning Team approach) is foundational in this collection of Integrated Mission frameworks, as a means of conversation that can reorient the relationship between organisations and communities, and encourage the practice of reflection applied to life challenges.

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