Coming Together for Health & Wholeness


“If you are not interested in the community, the community will not be interested in you,” says Christelle Bossina, national director of NCM for Cote D’Ivoire.

volunteers cleaning streets

As our taxi navigates around deep potholes filled with rainwater, Christelle interrupts herself to say, “Look!” She points at a group of young men shoveling garbage and mud from the city’s deep cement gutters. A broad smile crosses her face. She explains that the people of the Andokoi neighborhood are cleaning their streets—something they didn’t do before the Grace Church of the Nazarene began its monthly street cleaning project.

Called WASH, the project’s objective is to improve residents’ health and prevent reoccurring illnesses caused by daily exposure to sewage and standing water.

volunteers cleaning streets

Kickstarted through a two-year grant from NCM, WASH stands for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. Grace church’s WASH program also includes educational initiatives, empowering people to more effectively care for their own hygiene, sanitation, and clean water.

By modeling how to improve their immediate environment, the short-term project has grown into a movement that has taken on a life of its own—as attested by the young men mucking out the gutters without coordination through the church.

Andokoi is an economically struggling community adjoining Abidjan, a large city near the coast of Cote D’Ivoire. Grace church was founded there as part of a Nazarene-run health clinic. Decades of treating community members for preventable diseases at the clinic next door have led the church community to seek to address the source of those diseases.

In 2016, Serge and Christelle Bossina joined Grace church. A lawyer at a local bank, Christelle quickly gave her free time to volunteer in the church’s compassionate ministries. Serge became the NCM coordinator for Abidjan, while Christelle took on the role of national director.

“So we sat down and said, ‘OK, why treat the problem at the end? We must, in addition, treat the problem at the source,’” Christelle explains. “That is how we noticed that our surroundings, our environment, was not healthy.”

volunteer cleaning street

Homes and businesses line the gutters. Abidjan’s torrential, equatorial rainstorms rush through Andokoi’s unpaved streets, sweeping trash, sewage, and mud into the gutters. Without adequate wastewater infrastructure, the gutters overflow with each new storm, occasionally flooding homes and businesses. Mosquitoes and bacteria breed in standing water. People walk through sewage on their way to work and school.

All that sewage and standing water was making the church’s neighbors sick.

As she pondered, Christelle came up with an idea: What if the church leads the community in cleaning up our own neighborhood? She and some other leaders traveled to Ghana to participate in an NCM-sponsored WASH training. They learned about the impact of water on people’s health and how to educate them to improve sanitation conditions.

With this new knowledge, the congregation organized home visits to convince their neighbors to join a cleanup project.

People protested the church’s attempts since they pay taxes to the government to clean up their surroundings. However, the church moved forward with the project.

After seeing that the church people were climbing into the filthy gutters with shovels and gloves, some neighbors and even bored street children started to help the church members with the tools and personal protective equipment that were provided. Together, they worked shoulder to shoulder, cleaning up their community and sharing a meal together after work.

“One time we were cleaning the gutter, and two young men were walking by…. They were so drunk,” Christelle says. “They stopped and said, ‘What are you doing?’ And we said, ‘We do this for Jesus because, if not for Jesus, none of us would leave home to come out and clean the gutter of a friend.’”

The next thing she knew, one of the young men picked up a shovel and got down into the gutter, joining the cleanup. The following Sunday, he showed up for worship. Now, he’s a member of the church.

“It's extraordinary,” Christelle says. “God just needs us to take action, and then it is like a seed planted in the ground. God takes care of watering the plant and producing its fruit to get the result that God wants. That's it. God simply wants us to be tools in his hands that he will use for his glory. Truly, that is what the WASH program has brought to us.”

Now, residents organize their own cleanups without the church being involved.

Serving others the way Christ would serve has transformed the Nazarene congregation, too.

“Before, I would say that people came to church for themselves,” Christelle says. “They just came to be saved, to pray to God, and then go back home. But today, thanks to this program, I can say with confidence that now the people know their own value and the value of this church to the community.”


Once the church proved that it was interested in the community, the community became interested in the church and its message of hope in Jesus.

“All of these acts, all that we do in the world, [are evidences] of the love of Christ. And I bless the Lord for this church that makes this possible throughout the world.”

- Adapted from the latest issue of NCM Magazine. To read more, click here.