I first came across the term “transformational development” over 10 years ago when I was introduced to the book, Walking with the Poor, by Bryant Meyers. The idea of transformational development goes far beyond simple material changes in the lives of the poor around the globe. It reaches deeper into the need for positive change in every aspect of the human experience.
Progress, in terms of development, does not just happen on its own. It requires dreams, desire, work and the famous, “blood, sweat and tears” of individuals, families, churches, and organizations. It requires changing our perspectives and underlying ideas as well as the choices we make. We are all engaged in transformational development personally, making wise and often not-so-wise choices that lead to the consequences of those decisions.
As we recently celebrated the opening of the water system with the community of San Miguelito, this truth was again evident. There was a lot of joy in the faces of everyone at the celebration, and that joy, I believe, comes from something much deeper than having running water.
Many of the people of San Miguelito tell stories about how they had prayed for water in their homes. So, when the Water for Chinandega team visited the community and shared the process for building a water system, including what every family had to do, the entire community responded as a people devoted to the forward progress of their community.
Months of digging ditches passed, and the community of San Miguelito never stopped moving forward. They set aside what was easy in the moment, living with hand dug wells and pit-latrines, to seek and work towards that which would have a lasting impact for generations to come.
The resilience of the people of San Miguelito, and communities like it, is inspirational. Not only are they able to celebrate clean water, but also the sacrifice and arduous work of everyone that allowed the dream to become a reality.
The stories that will be told will not focus on the moment water was available, but on the process that was required to get there. Yes, families are impacted by running water and modern bathrooms; it changes everything. But what we really need to celebrate is that the community of San Miguelito made the choice to join and participate in a transformational experience.
The sacrifices made.
The time away from work at home on the family farm.
The sore bodies after digging every day.
The money invested.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with neighbors, encouraging one another.
The smiles and laughter.
The blood, sweat and tears.
Jesus, in John 10:10, said “I came so you can have life, and have it to the full.”
This is not simply about heaven; it is about here and now. Life to the full comes with following the life and teachings of Christ. It includes the sacrifices mentioned above and much more. It is the journey of transformational development: Giving, sacrificing, sweating, digging, laughing, serving, loving.
Christ wants so much more for the people of San Miguelito than running water; He wants transformed lives. He wants more for me and you than our current circumstances. It is my hope and prayer that the community of San Miguelito will continue down this path of transformational development, and for you and me to remember that we have not arrived. Christ has the same desire for us too, to be transformed.