June, 17 2019
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How to help?

Feb 21, 2012 at 21:20


Friends,   Jesus said that ministering to the least is ministering to Him.   Love what Roland & Heidi Baker do ( www.irismin.org ).   They take in orphans and teach all of their national leaders, no matter how poor,  to do the same.  Powerful!    But not all walk in the same spirit.  A friend who cares for orphans in Brazil commented that if all the church leaders in Brazil would each adopt one, there would be no more kids on the streets.  Instead the church leaders were petitioning the government to do something.  Poor.

To often leaders in every nation seem more concerned with buildings and sound systems than the poor  so we want to do something.  One group  builds a western style institution with dorms, dining halls, classrooms or maybe single family dwellings in a compound with a school and sports fields.  The children have nice beds, showers, quality food, good educational opportunities and it will cost a lot of money.  The national partners will run it, of course, but with all that money coming from the west the golden rule will kick in- "He who has the gold makes the rules."  

Another group  buys plots of land and provides  dwellings normal for that culture with no running water or electricity.   They provide independence  by  giving each couple a cow, three goats,  a sewing machine, some seeds and a hoe.  They are able to support themselves and ten or twelve children in the manner of that culture.  They will be independent and will need no further funding from outside.  They will live simply and may suffer if there is drought or sickness but they will not develop the resentment that all people begin feel towards those that they are dependent upon.  Plus the money needed to run the institutional orphanage for a year for a hundred kids would start another forty or fifty of such families on their way.   In ten years you could see 4000 or 5000 kids in loving homes or you could still be caring for the 100 in the institution.  

The children from the institutional orphanage will have a tough time going out into their culture and dropping down in their standard of living.  Maybe they will get sponsored for further education or maybe even to go to the west.  One institution in the west that seeks majority world students in order to train the "future leaders of the nations" found that less than 15% of those trained went back to their home countries.  Life in the west is good!  But what have we done here?  Have we not robbed a nation of its sons and daughters?   Have we not taken labourers from  that harvest field?

The institution provides a target for terrorists groups to destroy.  It provides a focus for anger against the west.  It provides a nice facility for corrupt local politicians to confiscate.  And the funds given for the orphans are burned to the ground or confiscated.   Why did you build those buildings?  Yes, to help but maybe there was just a little desire to raise up a monument to your name or ministry?  And what happens if the money runs out?  Asking that question will get you into trouble.  Ask me how I know.  What happens?  Do the kids get thrown out onto the streets?

The sons and daughters raised in the simple homes never leave their culture.  They are not at risk like the kids in the institution if the money stops flowing.  They are raised by godly parents to be salt and light in that culture. 

Who decided to build the institutional thing?  Did the westerner ask what the locals wanted?  Yes, the local partners may have wanted the big thing because they saw position &  privilege.  But if you had really asked them what was best, what do you think they would have said?  What would you have heard if you had taken the time to really listen?

My goal is to get you thinking.  Caring costs and you want your dollars to count.  Maybe you think I just ask questions to get a reputation for being a shit disturber.  But these things matter.  We can only touch  these issues in a short letter but if you want to explore further let me recommend www.whenhelpinghurts.org .  And yes, for those of you that were thinking "What did Steve & Marilyn do about this stuff?"  In the season before we were gypsies for Jesus, we had three young people come to Jesus from pretty rough backgrounds who came to live in our home.  They did so until they got married.  Good times with those three and our three in a very modest bungalow.

Responses?  Would love to hear from you and especially from friends in the majority world, that is,  the NON western world.  What do you think?  If you like you could place your comments under this article that way others can read and interact with your thoughts.

No man is so poor as the one,  who because he can only do a little, does nothing.


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Larry, 21-02-12 22:29:
You are right on target…with shekels come shackles. We saw this in India over and over again, Westerners throwing money at orphanages attempting to make them westernized, and then when the westerners got bored or disagreed the money was cut off, doing great damage to the orphanage and the community. From my experience, it is much better to keep children in an environment similar to the local living conditions, making sure they have adequate food, shelter, hygiene and education. The local church planters can do a much better job at that task.

The problem begins In the western churches where there is a wrong concept of missions. No concept of people adoption, emersion in a culture and understanding the needs in cultural context. That is one of the reasons I don’t bring over groups any longer, most churches just want to throw money at some kind of building project, take lots of pictures that make great presentations when they returned home. I never figured out why they would want to build a modern building to house street kids when they could take the same amount of money and plant 500 new churches, that would in turn develop local orphanages? I know I am a passionate church planter – but I am missing something in this Western concept of missions.

Larry Bennett
Ellijay, GA

Melodie, 22-02-12 03:07:
Your point is understood. But what is your recommended solution? If the local church leaders do not adopt, and western funding isnt what it should be, then how does one help?

romulos, 22-02-12 10:52:
Any kinds of 'ministries' that has no concept of a family, that is fathering and mothering those whom we've made into a disciple are all called "Orphanages Mentality." They 'come and go' into the village, doing 'hit and run' type of ministries, probably looking for a place to do ministry' - lay hands on the sick and cast out demons for an hour, then after put some alcohol on their hands, went home and take a shower for 2 hours! Jesus clothed in human dirt and live in the neighborhood. If we really love those people whom we minister then we should live among them. Show them what we really believe, not just teaching them about God. Lots of ministries already are birthing spiritual orphans, these includes of course orphanages and feeding centers, etc...My recommendation is that we go back to NT way, which is to form on what it's called Apostolic Hub, it is where Christians live together from house to house, no 'buying and selling' only 'giving and receiving.' They shared everything - they have 'one mind and one heart', one Great Commission to make disciples, they have one common life together, common pain, common joy and common purse! They ate together from house to house, hold on to the apostles doctrine [stories]. You know, just as Acts 2:42-46! To start yourself, go and make disciples, go into the village, look for man of peace, not 'malnourished kids' and starts feeding, that's a 'need-based' where Kingdom finances are not effectively use. It must be a 'God-need' based, ask, "What does God need?" Instead, "What does this community need?" If you ask the wrong question you might end up having a 'uniformity' type of minitries - you know, 'feeding centers' all over every community, having 'prayer rooms' or having 'orphanage' simply because in every community there is the same need. But if you ask God, "What does He need" to do for this community, you might be surprise. Any community does not know what a 'feeding ministry' is, that's western pre-planned ministry. However, like my country [we are already bombarded with these orphanages mentality ministries], if there is an apostolic hub, each family simply adopts a child and let him be a part of the family. Ask more about what a hub is, do, etc? Email me.

Steve, 24-02-12 23:39:
Apostolic hub is a good concept although Acts 2 was not duplicated anywhere else in the NT. But living amongst is the key. Where are such hubs functioning?

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