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Capacity Building: It's a people process

“Even though a bird flies, his bones end up in the ground.” — Tamasheq proverb

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.       1 Thess. 5:11 (NIV)

This saying by the nomads of the Sahara Desert could have several meanings, depending on the context. But it surely reflects the transitory nature of our trajectories in this life. Our plans (even organizationally) may fly high for a time, propelled by our own enthusiasm, skill sets and sometimes just adrenalin. But gravity and time will inevitably ground such plans if we fail to engage with others in a meaningful way. 

(Photo: Dave Crough)

Capacity building is a two-way street. Its reciprocal nature describes an exchange process between caring and capable people of different cultures. For the Wyclifffe family of organizations, this process involves developing the necessary skills, infrastructure and network of relationships essential to language development and Bible translation programs. Results emerge: trained personnel, sufficient funding, and individuals as well as institutions that can provide the guidance and consultation vital to fulfilling Vision 2025*, and even moving beyond that vision. 

Sometimes, building up colleagues and partners committed to Bible translation in their own language communities means first breaking down one’s own misconceptions—often naively or innocently held—about what others need and want for themselves. That’s why capacity building is a people process. All those involved in achieving common goals like Vision 2025 must be learners—from each other, and from our mutual source, our Father in Heaven. 

As author John Andrew Holmes put it: “It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.”

*In 1999, Wycliffe embraced the following corporate vision: "Serving in partnership worldwide to see Bible translation begun by 2025 in every remaining language community that needs it." 

About the authors

This article first appeared in a book called Eye to Eye, Heart to Heart, writtten by Dave and Deborah Crough and published in 2007Dave and Deborah served with Wycliffe Canada from 1996 to 2014. Deborah now serves in a part-time role as a communications consultant for the Wycliffe Global Alliance. Dave passed away in 2020.