For many people who attend Willow, God has planted a passion for helping church partners in Africa and Latin America. The passion might center around a particular profession, such as education, medicine, or finance, or it might be to provide clean water and nutritious food. And for others it might be as simple as a desire to learn about another culture or country around the world. In any case, the traditional way to feed these passions was to go on a global mission trip. But what if a mission trip is not currently an option? Is there a way to feed these global passions locally? The answer is now “yes” with the creation of Community Development Advocates (CDA) Teams.
CDA Team Launch
In March 2013, Willow held its first CDA Team meeting. Approximately 150 people gathered to listen to a presentation on global issues and stories of experiences from several Willow Creek serving team members followed by breaking down into individual groups. The groups were divided into six categories or “care themes,” which included economic development, health/nutrition, water, capacity development (micro-enterprise), spiritual development, and education. Each group was led by a person who has knowledge of the partners and their needs. The same format was used for a second CDA Team meeting in June 2013.
The value of CDA teams is looking at “the big picture from home,” says Willow staff member Scott Pederson. Dividing the groups by interest allows like-minded people to sit together and brainstorm. After hearing the common struggles faced by global partners, the group talks through innovative solutions and best practices for change.
After only two meetings, the local CDA Teams have already made a global impact. In one instance, a medical team that has served in Latin America began using Skype to train church partners in how to use an ultrasound machine. This has worked so well, the team is working toward expanding this idea to other types of training. In another instance, a group of teachers who served in Zambia is exploring the use of email and Skype to counsel and train school teachers there. “There’s no bad idea,” says Scott. “The Global Ministries team is excited about the potential engagement this unlocks between Willow attenders and our global partners.
The next time the CDA Teams gather is at the C&J Volunteer Rally on September 14, during the Global breakout session. Visit the C&J webpage to learn more about the rally and to sign up.