21 September 2010

Dependency... Question #2

In his book... Glen Shwartz gives caution about a number of missions programs that create dependency...

For the sake of this questions I will just choose just one of the ministries that he says create dependency... the first on his list...  "Child Sponsorship Programs"

Sorry... buzz kill... yes, the kid on your fridge is adorable...

What should we do if we are involved with Child Sponsorship and discover it is creating dependency? (Remember, there are serious consequence to those children if we just stop giving!)


John said...

"Blessed are the poor in spirit.." Why is it that child support programs usually equate a picture on the wall w/ a child. How do we help ensure that we don't just feed the body for a day and forget about eternity? Why is this creating dependency in man instead of God?

Darren said...

I haven't read this book so maybe I should heed to the Proverbs about fools being wise if they would just shut their mouths. Nah.

A couple of thoughts to be the devil's advocate... There is a sense that Jesus wants us dependent on each other. John the Baptist told people if you have 2 tunics, give one to the guy who has none. Paul told the Corinthians that the church in Philippi gave out of their poverty to the persecuted church in Jerusalem. So was Paul making the Jerusalem church dependent? Perhaps he was and perhaps that's how he wanted it? So where do you draw the line?

Darren said...

oops... what I meant to conclude...
Is when does Paul tell the Jerusalem church that he's not going to collect money for them anymore?
I guess that's why we have all these books on dependency!

spencer maccuish said...

before I attempt to answer this incredibly loaded question, I will beg for more information:

What sort of dependency is being created? Inter-dependency? financial dependency? intellectual dependency? spiritual dependency? medical dependency? etc.

Because I am convinced that some of these types of dependency is unhealthy for the body, while others are absolutely critical for the body (weather global or local).

(How is that for a non-answer)

Jeff said...

I'll answer a non-answer with an illustration of dependency:

A 26-year old healthy college grad is encouraged by his mom to sit at home and play video games rather than seeking a job...

My Definition of Dependency
Dependency is robbing an individual or community of the opportunity to use their God given time, talents or treasure by giving or doing for them what they can do for themselves.

In 1 Corinthians style it is "the leg telling the arm to hang limp while it does the lifting"

In the case of child sponsorship it is discouraging the God-given natural support system of aunts, uncles, grandparents and family in general to step in and aid their child in need by instead looking first to a western donor...

Anonymous said...

I know I'm a little late to the game here, but what about seeing child sponsorship as "development" as well. Providing for a child's education may have an impact on the local economy, but providing for both their education socially and biblically seems like a helpful benefit.

My follow up question would be regarding how bad dependency really is, in some ways. Is it bad to help out a Christian brother or sister by providing in a way that others might be able to do with great difficulty, but that you could do with ease?

You're definitely whetting my palate for Shwartz' book.

Jeff said...

Hey Scott

Welcome to the conversation!

Schwartz has all of his work online and its free to download... http://www.wmausa.org/98600.ihtml

Seriously, it is an incredible collection of knowledge from 40 years in missions.

Question #2: Thursdays conversation - you are way ahead of the game.

Question #1: Yes, child sponsorship can be a great way to break the cycle of poverty and can be seen as true development work.

Where child sponsorship can go wrong is when children who have family support structures get "into the system" taking away the initiative of the family to care for their child.

The other abuse that I see in Uganda in particular is pastors and / or churches starting sponsorship programs specifically as a means to get money from the West. In essence they are exploiting children for their own financial benefit. The pastor gets a car and a nice house while the children receive little if anything.