Churches can play a central role in bringing about the change they long to see in their communities. From restoring relationships to providing practical support to help lift people out of poverty, it is all possible through the local church. When André’s church in Mali realised how their church could make a difference, everything changed.
André works for a church in Sikasso – one of the most populated cities – in southern Mali. Like other countries in the Sahel region of West Africa, Mali has been hit hard by the effects of the climate crisis; the changing weather patterns have led to millions of people going hungry.
But, how could the church help?
‘Like a bird with one wing’
‘The church in general had no vision,’ shares André. ‘They did evangelism, focusing only on the spiritual side without thinking of the physical. So, the church flew like a bird with one wing.’
Then, an invitation came from ODES-Mali, Tearfund’s local partner. André, along with the church leader and another member of staff, took part in Tearfund’s training, which uses the Bible to equip churches in how they can make a difference in their community.
‘Thanks to ODES-Mali and its partner Tearfund, now I am truly aware of my responsibilities and those of the church vis-à-vis the community,’ says André.
Here’s what the church did next.
Putting their faith into action
Following their training, André and his church had the resources they needed to get their whole congregation involved. They set up Bible studies twice-monthly in their church, and then the change started happening, not only in the church – but across the whole community.
Funds were mobilised across the church in order to help the most vulnerable. From this, eight people from the church and 60 people from the wider community were given rice, sugar, oil and a cash grant so they could buy what they urgently needed.
Since the Bible studies began, André has noticed that tensions across the community have reduced. There are also more people getting involved with activities that the church is running, including more young people and women. André has also decided to get in contact with the local leader in Wayerma to see how the church can help the city further.
‘The subsequent Bible studies have transformed my life,’ says André. ‘I understand more that evangelising holistically is a duty for me. I strongly understand that I have the duty to participate in the wellbeing of my direct neighbours. Finally, I understand that I must participate in the development of my neighbourhood.’