Multempire - Thoughts on Youth Ministry

Clearing YM Noise Away

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Want to Help the Developing World? Informative Article on What to Avoid or be Wary Of

Youth Ministers, we have a lot coming at us, and we give a lot of messages about doing good in the world. ¬†A lot of your church members also want to do good and are likely adding dollars and labor to all sorts of missionary projects whether for the church or through a commercial company who has promised to do “good” somewhere.

This article above, shared by my good friend Matt @Wiatt (Twitter), and from the MatadorNetwork.  My commentary below.

What most people don’t think about is that every drop in a puddle makes a ripple, and not all ripples are good. ¬†I remember a missions trainer telling a story of a Methodist minister who was working in an area and teaching people how to make their own clothing. ¬†A small economy was likely possible and people were learning skills. ¬†One day, a missionary group from out of town brought boat loads of t shirts and brought them to the center of town. The donors were immediately swamped by people of the area scrambling for the free clothing. ¬†The Methodist missionary just looked on as all the work they had done would be set back. ¬†

The implication being, “If we can get something for free, why make it ourselves.” ¬†Also, it makes a dependent system where people simply wait for more supplies rather than seek to make or grow it up themselves. ¬†Systems of poverty are strengthened. ¬†And the team that brought the t shirts goes home and tells their church how needy the people were.

I try to reverse every situation, and I thought to myself.  What would we do, as Americans, if someone came from Brazil and had suitcases full of brand new sneakers and stopped in Times Square in New York City?  Certainly, there would be tons of people who would clamor for the shoes.  The Brazilian missionaries would feel like they did some good.  But what does that ripple do?

Shoe sellers in New York would first of all have a few less sales.  Not much, but its something.  

Those able to give, who live in New York City, would then have an excuse not to give. ¬†”Oh, well, the Brazilians are do such good work. ¬†We are thankful.” ¬†If the perception is that others are helping, we are less likely to help our own. ¬†I think that Americans try to take pride in helping our own people - and it should stay that way. ¬†But outside help makes us more dependent.

The people that got shoes, when that pair wears out, may look for the missionaries next time they need shoes rather than finding a self sufficient way to earn the shoes.  This is bad for everyone.  

Now think about how we help others. ¬†Is our missionary effort having an imperialistic and dependent bent - or are we finding ways to help others help themselves. ¬†Care and compassion are moot if we don’t treat the other as a capable being, or surrounded by capable people who have responsibility. ¬†Every missions opportunity should not just be about feeling bad for people around the globe, rather - it should be about connecting with other people of faith, supporting them, and asking, How can we help you help your neighbor. ¬†

Brain shift!

Filed under Missions rethinking help others love life youth ministry matador network toms shoes economics of help economy article resource