17 November 2008

Should have taught them to fish…

It is hard to know for sure what is happening with the US economy from 11 time zones away… my main sources of info are the internet, emails from friends and conversations with visitors… so here is my one qualification for what I am about to write… I am not a financial expert…

Here is what I do know… missionaries are losing supporters on a daily basis, US churches are cutting back their missions budgets and overseas ministries are preparing and in some cases experiencing the worst…

For today I want to focus on the impact the US economy has on overseas ministries… specifically humanitarian programs such as orphan ministries, food distribution and any ministry that requires nothing from the person receiving food, medical treatment or service…

During times of prosperity humanitarian project are the easiest to fund… throw up a picture of a child that looks like a skeleton or has a bulging stomach… show a video with flies swarming around the child’s head… talk about Jesus’ love for children and James 1:27… while some soft music plays in the background… the money floods in…

The problem is that if you play that video in churches today where people are losing their jobs, foreclosing their homes and worrying that their 401K no longer exists they will just hang their heads or talk about the problems back at home…

Most humanitarian programs are preparing for the worst… cutting back on staff, not taking on new projects or children and in some cases dropping projects and children…

But it doesn’t have to be like this… James 1:27 says we are to “look after orphans and widows”… not “give them everything we think they need and make them completely dependant on us” … or should I say “make them completely dependant on the US”

If we are “looking after orphans” we should treat them like our own children… educate them, give them what they “need” and not always what they “want”… and most importantly insist that they learn to do things on their own…

You don’t tie your 15-year olds shoes or make his bed… you don’t wipe your 9-year old after a #2 or carry him to his classroom at school… and you don’t feed your 5-year old with a spoon and bib…

Of course these are ridiculous… but it is also ridiculous that many African orphans are sponsored until they are 23, never learn practical skills or vocations like farming and never do a day of chores in their lives…

Do you know if your sponsored child falls into this category?

But think beyond the orphan for a minute… should a country like Uganda be entering its 3rd decade of an orphan crisis… or SHOULD WE HAVE TAUGHT THEM TO FISH!

I’m referring to the saying… or Chinese proverb about giving a man a fish and feeding him for a day or teaching a man to fish and feeding him for a lifetime...

I believe there is a place for child sponsorship… BUT there has to be a plan to move countries or areas in crisis from dependency to sustainability…

This is why I believe that education and training are the key for countries like Uganda… unfortunately pictures of adult students in classrooms or vocational training facilities do not stir peoples hearts… I've tried...

But education and vocational training does change nations…

God used Joseph to prepare Egypt for a famine and to protect the descendants of Abraham… the people were encouraged to 1) work hard, 2) take what they NEED and 3) to SAVE…

Most humanitarian projects encourage the people to not work (so they can stay poor enough to receive aid)… take more than they need (because we feel guilty about our own western gluttony)… and save nothing (because the next delivery of goods or team of visitors is just around the corner)…

The US economic crisis is not coming… it is here… and it affects the world…

Churches are not thinking about cutting missions budgets… they are…

Overseas programs will suffer… BUT it didn’t have to be this way…

All we had to do was teach them to fish…

7 comments:

Kristin said...

YES!!!!!!! I totally agree with you. I have been reading your blog for a while now. A friend of a friend turned me on to it. My husband has taken a few trips to Kenya and last year led a team to Uganda. I think you have hit the nail on the head! That is the way to create missions that will truly change nations!

Kristin said...

YES!!!! I totally agree with you. I have been reading your blog for a while now. A friend of a friend turned me on to it. My husband has taken a few trips to Kenya and last year led a group to Uganda. I think you have hit the nail on the head. That is the way to create missions that will truly change nations!

Kristin said...

Sorry I wrote this twice I was a little confused!

Jon said...

Kristin...what are you doing reading this blog. These are our missionary friends who we've never met. Go find your own missionary friends who you've never met! - By the way Jeff - spot on.

Kristin said...

Jon, it's your fault I even know who they are. You're wife showed me this blog and I was hooked! Anyway, we're the ones who love Africa:) Stick to your own continent!!!

Jon said...

Kristin...I am shocked by your insensitivity. He has the whole world in His hands. Besides, in many ways (which I cannot enumerate here) Romania has more in common with Africa than with the U.S. - I am talking about the underlying assumptions of life with which people operate and use to make decisions.

Kristin said...

Knock it off Jon!! You're going to get us both kicked off this blog!!