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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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