19 November 2008

Investing in Africa...

Too often I have conversations with people back in the US that go like this…

“Hey Jeff, I have a pastor friend in Africa that I want to send $1000 to so he can plant a church”

“How long have you known him?”

“We met last year when I was in Uganda for a week… I could just tell that he was sincere and full of integrity”

“Did anyone in country connect you to this pastor?”

“No, it didn’t work out with the people who invited me but I found this pastor on my own”

“Really?”

Say an African came to the US for the first time and wanted to invest in a computer company… would anyone encourage him to invest in a 16-year old who works on his mom’s computer designing a ping-pong video game…

I don’t think so…

Since he is new to the country and doesn’t understand how everything works you would encourage him towards a low-risk investment with an established company….

But for some reason Africa has become the wastebasket for American tax-write-offs… investors check their brains at the borders and Christians depend on their Jedi senses instead of seeking counsel from established missionaries…

Giving to ministries in Africa is a Kingdom investment… but for some reason believers feel an urge to work independently within God’s kingdom… its as if they feel it is wrong to talk to their fellow American who lives and ministers in Uganda… “oh, he’s a missionary… he must be weird”

On most occasions I speak directly to the “American investor” warning them of the potential pitfalls of their investment and even pointing them towards some great in-country projects… all the while encouraging them that it is commendable that they want to invest in Africa…

But even stroking their egos doesn’t work… the majority refuse to listen and then are outraged when their investment doesn’t work out… but it doesn’t have to be this way…

I don’t invest my retirement myself… I let Mr. 401K investor do that for me…

I don't work on my own car... I would be scared to drive if I did...

And I never advise people to invest in Africa without talking to someone on the ground… it’s all risk and no reward…

Or dare I say a stewardship issue…

2 comments:

Jon said...

Jeff - you are right. The 2 key issues in missions as we look into the future are sustainability and "indiginity" - of or having indigenous qualities - I made that word up my self. Here is a key question I am learning to ask. "What will happen to "Insert a ministry here" when all the westerners and their wallets go home?" If this question was asked more often, we would see less wasted time and resources. Sustainable missions would free up more seed money for more sustainable missions; hence, greater (my a multiple factor) impact.

John said...

Jeff, did not ten leppers cry out to be healed? Jesus healed all ten. I think that in our human condition, we think that we can be the person who "gets" to see a great work be done for God.
But the better question that should be asked is, "God, I have this great burden and desire to see You change Africa." "How would you direct my giving?" "Whom should I seek out to help me be wise and most helpful?"

Instead, we want to be the one to tell the neighbor's teenager that it's OK to drive off in Dad's car. After all we say, Dad won't care, because he wants you to learn to drive that car someday.

Keep up on telling the truth.