In REAP (Rural Extension with Africa’s Poor) our work is through local churches, emphasising an approach that we believe plays to the potential of the local church.Â While there is much potential that we see in the local church, we focus on four main factors in the area that we work, namely eastern Africa. These are the potential of the existing church structure, the use of the Bible to motivate people, the potential for extending teaching leading to behaviour change, and the potential for teaching that is relevant to the rural poor.
One of the greatest challenges in sustainable approaches to development is motivating people and in eastern Africa we have found the Bible to be a wonderful resource for motivating people to be responsible, and to make best use of the resources available. We use the Bible to both introduce and back up our technical teaching, and have found this particularly relevant to our Environmental and Sustainable Agriculture teaching. Once people have been stimulated through motivational teaching they are keen to learn about practical things they can do and we have linked the Biblical teaching with this practical. For the rural poor we promote teaching which as far as possible does not depend on purchased inputs, but which makes good use of available labour, a resource that is normally abundant for them as they seek to support many people on ever smaller pieces of land.
When talking about the soil, the starting point for our teaching is that God created the world, and everything in it, including the living soil!