Environments, even bad ones, can be transformed by people with ideals and drive. Many of you have probably heard the story of Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie and her sister Betsie were incarcerated in a prison camp during World War II because the family was caught hiding Jewish refugees. In the camp barracks, conditions were dirty, crowded and cold. The women were ill fed and forced to work long hours. Most became angry and quarrelsome. Corrie and Betsie had managed to smuggle their Bible and a bottle of vitamins into the camp when they arrived. They started a Bible Study which attracted more and more prisoners. They shared their vitamins with the sick and weak –miraculously that bottle of drops never ran out! Betsie, particularly, prayed constantly. She even gave thanks for the crowded conditions which helped them reach more women with the good news of Christ’s love, and for their suffering, because it gave them a greater appreciation of the hardships Jesus endured for our sakes. The terrible conditions didn’t change, but the attitude of the women did. They became gentle and helpful with one another. The conflicts gradually ended.
Most of us will never find ourselves in prison, but we can still take the following steps to change our environments for the better.
- Know the environment. You must know the people, circumstances and nature of your surroundings in order to influence them.
- Study the spirit of the environment. What is the ideal or motivating force? How do the traditions, organization, and structure of the group play in?
- Study the individuals. In every environment you will find several types of people. There are followers. They are satisfied with imitating others. There are the impulsive. These folks are wish-washy and lacking real conviction. Finally there are leaders. These are the people who can be agents of change.
The leaders are the people you need to be most concerned about. These people will use their abilities to achieve what they believe is worthwhile Once you determine who the leaders are, get to know them in order to understand their ideal. Is it power, accumulating possessions, or something else? Can you influence them and lead them closer to Christ?
More about transformation coming up on my next post ……