Read the rest.First, short-termers should only be doing projects that are in partnership with long-termers. A long-termer is someone who has made at least a two-year commitment to be in the thick of a situation. True missionaries are in it for the long haul, and it is both arrogant and ignorant not trust them and use their connections. God has ordained them with a task, and we should respect that.Second, mission teams need to recognize the type of aid they are giving and if it is appropriate for the setting. Is there a time to hand out food and clothing without any questions being asked? Yes, but that is four days after a hurricane has hit the city (relief), not four years (development). If working with long-termers, it’s a safe bet that development is the stage of aid.Third, the community that is being served must be included in the plans. This can be scary for people who have thought about policies, agendas and improvements. It requires a certain kind of Godly humility to ask a group of people for suggestions because it gives them governance, ownership and control. As Ron Blue, a professor in world missions and intercultural studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, says, “It appears to me that those of us in the North America empire are rather slow to yield control to others.” That loss of control is essential to effective mission work.We should not be discouraged from taking these life-changing trips, but encouraged to do them smarter. I sincerely think a cross-cultural project of any kind is essential to gaining a wider perspective on the world, and my personal experience has seen dramatic shifts in how I view poverty. However, it is time that Christians no longer hang their hats on their intentions; it is time to look hard at the results and decide if we are tangibly making a difference in the world. Let us be the hands and feet of Christ to do that, but let us also do it correctly, efficiently, and lovingly to bring the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Friday, July 26, 2013