What is our concept of "progress"? We have to be careful that we don't equate our western ideas of progress with that of a Biblical view of progress. There is a danger that we will have the wrong results if we go into an area determining to enable the people to progress "forward". Even what seems to be so logical to us, may not be logical for those who we are trying to help. It may not be what they truly need. We have our ways of doing things, and they have their ways of doing things. One is not better than the other, just different. But, how do our different ways of thinking and doing things compare to God's ways? We both may need to change our worldview and methods to match up with His ways.
The following illustration was written by Elizabeth Elliot about an area in Southern Sudan:
"There was a road - the only road anywhere around that had been made by white man, and like most white man's roads, it was as straight as they could make it, hacking through the tough clumps of grass, building up the low places with mud on mud (for the country had no stones at all). At best it was a double wheel track, unbelievably rough and pitted and treacherous, but it was straight. Down the center, between the two ruts made by the white's man's wheels, ran the Nuer trails. Nuers walked, and where they walked, they made trails. None of the trails was straight - why should they be straight? And so the one tramped out after the foreigners had made their wheel-trail, jerked and jutted and turned crazily between the straight lines. It did not occur to the Nuer that there was any reason to follow the track of the wheel. It did not seem to him easier or more logical or better ways of doing the things he knew well how to do."
What does he really need to know? What would be the way for him to progress forward? The answer is the same as it is for us. --To have a knowledge of the Holy One. --To know Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Not a Western road, nor an African road, but rather, as the Scripture says, "...a highway shall be there, and it shall be called a way of holiness." We need God's road.
Small country road near Geita, Tanzania