‘Neighborhood Transformation’ seeks to restore community

By July 13, 2010

USA (MNN) — Reed Buchanan of The Mission Society and his
wife served as missionaries in Ghana for six years. Although they are back in the
United States, they are just as involved in mission as ever.

While in Ghana, they introduced a community development
model of ministry which they now bring to Kentucky, under a different title:
"The international part of this is called Community Health Evangelism. But
the urban ministry that we use here in the
U.S. based on the same principles is called 'Neighborhood Transformation.' The hope, of course, is rooted in
Jesus Christ. We certainly believe the work of Christ can transform any
community," Buchanan said.

The model, Buchanan said, is holistic and based on
prevention: "It's based on development instead of relief. Of course relief
has its place. Relief is not a negative, but relief is typically
short-term." And it assumes, "All people in neighborhoods have
assets. God has given a purpose to each one of us."

The model did not start in Ghana but in Uganda
almost 50 years ago. Since then, it has spread to 79 other countries. With
each person coming together in community, neighborhoods begin to transform,
from poverty stricken and hopeless slums to thriving urban centers of hope.

As the Buchanans taught Ghanaians about disease prevention, how to
develop their community for themselves, and what God can do to transform their
hearts and lives, they slowly worked themselves out of a job.

So, they came to the U.S. where they found they actually
had to take a few steps back in community development.

"We start with building relationships. What we've
seen: a small village in Africa really has a good understanding that they are a
community. Already they have lots of things in common. But in many of the
neighborhoods here in the U.S., it's hard to find that 'common
thread' or find people that have common things that they hold together and start
from there, which means we're actually backing up and starting at a place
farther behind than what we saw in Africa," Buchanan said.

In addition to a lost sense of community, many people across
the U.S. have grown numb to the Gospel. Buchanan said it's "kind of like
getting a flu shot: you've been kind of inoculated a little bit to the Gospel,
and you really haven't had that transformation of the heart."

Regardless of the steps backward which "Neighborhood
Transformation" has had to take, communities are responding and thriving.
Buchanan said he has seen tremendous physical, spiritual, and social change
throughout a community in Louisville, Kentucky. The community has been an
influential one in their area in the early 20th century, and they wanted to
regain their impact on the surrounding city.

Would you like to see your neighborhood transformed? Click
to visit the Neighborhood Transformation" Web site to find communities where the
model is being implemented and learn how you can involve your community.

Also, pray for open hearts as the Buchanans, The Mission
Society, and "Neighborhood Transformation" reach out to these
communities. Pray for these and the other partnerships formed in this
development to strengthen and continue to grow.

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