Deb Wilson, Women’s Health International Assistant
One of the goals of Community Health Evangelism (CHE) is to help people within communities identify and address issues which present obstacles to achieving good health. But what do we mean by “good health”? The first thought that often comes to mind is healthy bodies. And indeed, CHE addresses many of the issues that affect physical health such as hygiene, nutrition, and caring for those with common illnesses. But does a physically healthy body mean a person is in good health? Not necessarily.
One foundational CHE lesson tells the story of a woman who injures her leg while gathering firewood because she is distracted by anger at the way she is being treated by her family. With care her leg heals, but the bitterness remains. The question is asked, “Is this woman healthy?” After discussing what health looks like from a biblical perspective, we come to the conclusion that she is not healthy. Why? Because in CHE, good health is defined as being in harmony with God, others, self, and the environment. If there is disharmony in any area, then good health is lacking. The next step is to discover ways to restore harmony and become healthy.
Does CHE really work in this way? During a Women’s Cycle of Life training in a restricted access country (where Christians are a small percentage of the population), several of the local Christian women took turns facilitating lessons. Gulru (not her real name), a leader among the local Christians, facilitated a lesson about relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Typically, in Gulru’s culture a woman lives with her husband in the home of her in-laws where the mother-in-law has authority over the daughter-in-law. The son’s wife is often treated as a servant and expected to do most of the housework, cooking, animal care, and other chores. Verbal abuse is seen as normal, and the son generally supports or at least accepts his mother’s treatment of his wife.
har.mo.ny being in harmony with God, others, self, and the environment
After leading the lesson, Gulru shared her heart with one of the leaders from the U.S. team. Gulru said, “My daughter-in-law is not a Christian, and I have treated her terribly as others in my culture would. After teaching this lesson, God has shown me I can never lead her to Christ if I don’t love her just like God does. Thank you for letting me lead this lesson. It reminded me that I need to treat my daughter-in-law as God tells me to, not as my culture has taught.”
Psalm 133:1 tells us, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity (harmony).” All around the world CHE serves as a tool which helps people learn how they can restore and maintain harmony with God, others, themselves and their environment.