The mangrove saplings weren’t taking hold along the edge of a river in West Africa. Some people from outside the area had come through to plant the saplings with foreign funds, but before long the plantings were pulled out and gone. Net-throwing fishermen accounted for most of the damaged saplings as they worked along the river for their daily catch and disturbed the young plants in the process.
A Discipling for Development disciplemaker and mentor living nearby recognized the problem. One morning while buying fish he pointed to the small patch of mature mangroves still holding on nearby. He asked the fishermen, “What are the good things that these trees provide?” This modeled a Discipling for Development practice of gratefulness also known as “appreciative inquiry.”
They discussed erosion benefits and wood, but especially how fishing was done best by the trees. He then asked, “Why is that?”
They responded that it was a place for fish to hide, lay eggs, and to grow.
“What would this place be like if there were more of these mangroves? What is keeping this place from being full of mangroves like it was in the times of our grandfathers?” They continued their encouraging discussion, including God’s love and His call to make us stewards of creation.
Through their response to this teaching discussion, the fishermen have made themselves the protectors of the mangrove transplants. They are seeing to the establishment of new mangrove plants. The community is developing this God-given resource not just locally, but up and down the river as well. Meanwhile this Discipling for Development disciplemaker and mentor continues to “fish for men” as he invests in relationships in the community, buys fish, and draws men closer to the Kingdom of Jesus.