For over two decades now, Larry and I have enjoyed working in Community Health Evangelism.
CHE is a model that takes a holistic approach toward community development. According to the CHE Network website, “CHE seamlessly integrates evangelism and discipleship with community health and development.”
Evangelism and discipleship are the foundational principles that define CHE and set the model apart from secular health promotion models that have been used around the world by health extension workers. We believe that the CHE program in Choluteca, Honduras, has been successful because it is built on both biblical principles and sound community development theory.
The apostle Paul wrote, "Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect" (Romans 12:2 ISV). Real transformational learning is made possible when people accept Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. Accepting Christ leads to a dramatic change in worldview that will positively impact individuals as well as entire communities.
As a result of applying CHE principles in Honduras, we have seen people’s lives transformed in ways that we could never have imagined. The multiplication principles apply to healthcare as well as spiritual evangelism and discipleship. New converts are always excited to tell others of the life-changing experiences that they are going through. Using the CHE model of education, the “good news” is communicated throughout the social system in the entire community.
Community health evangelists perform many different services in the community. They collaborate with other organizations, including local churches, healthcare agencies, and local governing groups. One local governmental health center sent words of gratitude to us, saying that our lay health workers are filling an educational gap that existed in the community. The local health center staff had been overwhelmed and was grateful for the support.
Local pastors and community leaders have noted that our health evangelists treat every home that they enter in the same way; they do not attempt to get people to switch churches but encourage everyone to support the church that they attend. CHE teachers on the island that we visit noticed that the photos our regional coordinator was showing them of malnourished children looked very similar to their own children. On their own, they sought out extra help from the local health department and learned that many of the population’s children were undernourished.
Last year, we had the great joy and privilege of meeting Stan Rowland, the author and teacher who has had a great influence in making CHE popular. Stan confirmed that one of the primary concepts of CHE is participatory learning, which is the collective effort of facilitators and students learning together. The participatory model includes dialogue rather than a lecture or monologue by the teacher.
Above all, real transformation only comes through faithfully following Christ.
MORE: Learn more about the CHE Network and register for training.