VALUE#2: Just like Jesus, all people have potential and therefore deserve the opportunity to grow cognitively, physically, spiritually, emotionally and socially (Luke 2:52).
South Africans have a word for it – Kiff. Growing up in the 80’s everything was cool or kewl; then it all went bad and eventually sick. According to BA (2014), “South Africans like to say things like KIF, meaning cool. This marvel of Durban slang owes it origins to the Arabic word kief…which refers to wellbeing, pleasure or enjoyment.” Biblically wellbeing is measured by the presence of “shalom” (Tennent 2010:395), although interpreted as ‘peace’ it encompasses much more:
“…affecting and embracing all of human life and all human beings…reaches out to feelings, intuitions, thoughts and actions….to singing, crying, laughing, and hoping….to food and hunger, water and thirst, fatigue and sleep. To nakedness and clothes, sickness and health, hopelessness and seeds of hope. It’s shalom for everyone, to be experienced everywhere” (Steuernagel 2008:62).
Wellbeing – God’s Holistic Shalom
In terms of the mission of God, Plantinga (1995:10) explains how shalom involves, “The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfilment, and delight….the way things ought to be.”
Which means whether you’re into evangelism, social action and / or integral mission; in fact whatever you understand by Jesus’ command, “to make disciple of all the nations” (Matt 28:19):
“It is not merely about discipling individuals; it is about summoning the entire culture to the inbreaking realities of the New Creation…the permeation of the whole gospel into every aspect of a culture and demonstrating, through word and deed, what it means to be “’in Christ’” (Tennent 2010:404).
The New Testament describes how Christ grows, “…in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and people” (Luke 2:52). To be ‘in Christ’ means growing in love and trusting God in every areas of our lives – just like Jesus did. Compared to Jesus we’re all poor – in one way or another. The word poor, ptochos in the New Testament, “…is a comprehensive term” (Bosch 2005:99); a person’s poverty involves, “…the entire orientation of their lives” (Schottroff and Stegemann 1986:96). But as well as weaknesses, we all have unique strengths, knowledge, abilities and resources. Everyone has God given potential – in one way or another. Since we’re all made in the image of God, Soul Action values all ages, genders, race or religion whether or not they’re aware of their cognitive, physical, spiritual, social and emotional poverty or potential.
Extreme Potential NOT Extreme Poverty
Saying one believes in people’s potential NOT their poverty only means something if it also impacts our personal, family, leisure and work lives. Otherwise, like so many things, our faith, “…may have successfully recruited my intellect [but] they have not been successful in converting my habits” (Smith 2013:9). We must close the gap between what we think and what we do.
Whenever Soul Action gathers, trains or works with people we do so by first considering whether we are creating opportunities for them to realise their fullest potential by growing holistically – cognitively (wisdom), physically (stature), spiritually (favour with God), socially and emotionally (favour with people).
Whilst we welcome welfare activities as one way to serve ‘the poor’ we also recognise that we must work with people to empower and enable them to be the architects of their own change rather than imposing solutions upon them. Whilst we acknowledge leadership and expertise, but believe in the knowledge in the room; our role at Soul Action is to facilitate a way to ensure it gets shared.
Some of the most useful theories on adult learning (andragogy) were pioneered in 1970’s by Malcolm Knowles, who defined andragogy as, “the art and science of helping adults learn” (Zmeyov 1998; Fidishun 2000). Knowles identified the six principles of adult learning:
- Adults are practical
- Adults are goal oriented
- Adults are relevancy oriented
- Adult learners like to be respected
- Adults are internally motivated and self-directed
- Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to learning experiences
Facilitating a creative, experiential, practical and safe learning space is important to us, since we believe people are more likely to act on what they’ve said and done, than what they’ve read or heard – for more on this look up some of the theories that have emerged from Dale’s (1946) “Cone of Experience.”
Since Soul Action is committed to holistic growth and potential we strive to create learning environments where people:
- Are able to hear the message, see it and practice new learning and / or skills
- Interact with and learn from fellow participants in group work or discussion
- Feel emotion about a message & do physical activity to emphasize learning
- Apply learning to knowledge they have & their own life experience / needs
- Have equal opportunities to participate but do not feel pressured to do so
- Feel their ideas, input and suggestions are vital, appreciated and accepted
- Are treated with respect and feel they are equals with the facilitator
- Do not feel threatened or fear being embarrassed or laughed at
- Have the opportunity to explore and process their thoughts
- Apply what they are learning and have learnt immediately
- Receive encouragement and praise, even for small efforts
- Can share ideas with a facilitator and fellow participants
- Are not corrected, unfairly criticized and / or judged