Saper Vedere: ‘Knowing How to See’

Jose Armas grew up in a crime-infested neighborhood in one of Guatemala City’s most notorious zones.

Children at the local market.

Although Armas could have left the community, he chose to stay.

As part of a gathering of leaders involved in the “Strategy of Transformation” network, Armas recently spoke of how he has been able to see beyond difficult situations and, by following the Spirit of God, help bring about healing and hope.

He told how seeing hungry children in his neighborhood stirred him to action. By seeing what could be rather than what was, he envisioned feeding hungry kids by going to a local market every week and igniting generosity in the hearts of fellow Guatemalans who worked there.

Initially, market vendors laughed at Armas for asking them to donate fruits and vegetables to poor children they had never met.

However, after a few months, their hearts changed. Armas now fills a pickup truck and a trailer with donated supplies every week for 400 children.

How did this come about? It is all connected to Saper Vedere.

Leonard Sweet, in his book Summoned to Lead, described an ad campaign called “Leonardo da Vinci: The Art of Seeing.” It centered on Saper Vedere, da Vinci’s belief in the significance of “knowing how to see.”

To da Vinci, seeing was a hard-to-describe, even mystical process that enables artists to not simply paint what they see, but also to have the vision for what they paint.

With Saper Vedere in mind, Christian Reformed World Missions seeks to work in Guatemala City, encouraging leaders to see their city as a living, breathing, ever-growing library of wisdom that functions in real time and is accessible to those who are willing to learn.

As leaders like Armas teach, it is important to see beyond the deficits in hard places and celebrate community and neighborhood assets, which are the result of the Spirit already at work—the Spirit who is way ahead of us, working without our help.

About the Author

Rev. Joel Van Dyke serves in Guatemala City with Christian Reformed World Missions. He currently directs the Estrategía de Transformación, which nurtures missional communities of grassroots leaders in Central America and the Caribbean.
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