One of our goals for the 2012 trip to Gambella was to hold a conference with six of the surrounding presbyteries (local churches). The purpose of this conference was to hear from the local people what they thought were their villages’ greatest needs and discuss how all of those present could work together to meet the needs. Pastors and village leaders from each presbytery attend the conference, 38 people in all.
PIA shared recent changes in our mission, which now focuses on a path of holistic development rather than mainly missionary work to introduce Christianity into the villages. This change has occurred because Christianity is now a familiar part of the local culture. While we have heard there is still a need for missionary work, it is no longer the primary need villages are requesting.
Holistic Development includes:
- physical, spiritual and relational aspects
- restoring relationships,
- working with what people already have,
- Improving well being through projects related to health, education, agriculture and clean water and other community interests.
Leaders came together in small groups to think about and discuss what resources do their villages have in abundance and what resources are needed, thus allowing them to think about how they can work together as a larger congregation within EGBS to provide for these needs.
The conference concluded with a task for the village leaders to develop a Village Development Council. Each village will appoint two people to serve on the council. This council will function in the future as a bridge from the villages to EGBS, with the villages prioritizing and communicating their needs. In this manner, PIA will hear directly from the villages.