What is Development?

This is a standard sight of "progress" in India. The homes of those who build high rises sit below it's shadow. These brick dwellings are joined with mud instead of mortar, making them susceptible to collapse during the rains. Development is happening in India, but not necessarily the kind of development we are concerned about.

There is a lot of need in India.  In a country that is three times the population of the US with a third of the landmass, need is never far away.  Within walking distance of the house our summer team is staying, there are over 25 houses being constructed.  Each house has a dedicated work force of migrant workers who construct temporary shacks to live in, along with their families, for the duration of the building project.  Many of the people I speak with about India readily admit India’s problems, but they are also quick to mention how development is changing India for the better.  Few seem to agree on the definition or end of development, but they know they all want it. Indeed, it is argued that the only way India’s overwhelming need will be answered is by development.  Therefore, what is development?  Is development achieved in the rapid growth of the city?  Has development occurred when another country bends it’s cultural particularities further to the West?


Jeff shares thoughts on the book of Mark with a friend in India. Development of one's mind in regards to the Word of God and what it expects of us is indispensable in our mission efforts.

Last week I was able to visit a friend in Delhi.  He grew up a Hindu Dalit but became a Christian when he was in his early 20s and quickly joined a Christian ministry.  For hours we sat and talked about the Lord and studied the Bible.  We talked about development as a process of education that people must undergo as they learn about the Lord through his Word.  Throughout our time, his excitement grew as he gained new understanding and reconsidered the world in light of the Word in a way he never had before.  As we sat and talked, development was happening.  It wasn’t the kind of development that can measured or quantified, but was nonetheless real and profound.

Jeremiah relates his vision for development in Jeremiah 31.

“This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Jeremiah longs for a day when people would know the Lord.  He knew that if people could learn about their Father it would change their behavior in such a way they could be marked as the people of God.  Development is the answer to India’s pressing needs – but development is the process of human beings maturing as they are taught the ways of God.  Development void of this very humanizing task is simply construction with brick and mortar, something completely different than God’s plan for development.

The India team continues to find many opportunities to teach God’s word here in India.  Every opportunity we get to share the Word we take seriously and ask the Lord for help in communication.  While real estate development booms in India, the members of the G.O.D. Int’l India team are committed to developing people who will bring about lasting development that will not crumble with time.

Written by Jeff Sherrod