Saturday, May 17, 2014

When Helping Hurts

During a time of serious prayer and a breaking heart God brought me to this book. I'm not even half way through it, but I can tell you that with almost every page I can hear my spirit saying, "YES!"
This is exactly what I'm experiencing and feeling in missions. It's sharpening, convicting, and it's true.
There's come a time for us to rethink how we are helping. I'd like to challenge you in your growing, to take a look and spend some time understanding how and 'When Helping Hurts'.

This in particular is hitting home in Haiti:

'Managerial paternalism is perhaps the hardest nut to crack. We middle-to-upper-class North Americans love to see things get done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Relative to many other cultures, including many low-income communities in North America, we are prone to take charge, particularly when it appears that nobody else is moving fast enough. As a result, we often plan, manage, and direct initiatives in low-income communities when people in those communities could do these things quite well already. The structure and pace might be different if the low-income communities undertook the projects themselves, but they could do a good job nonetheless.
You might be asking, “Then why don’t they take charge and manage these projects if they are so gifted?” There are lots of reasons that the people, churches, and organizations in low-income communities might not take charge, but here are several common ones that should give us some pause before rushing into a low-income community and grabbing the reins in any project:

They do not need to take charge because they know that we will take charge if they wait long enough.

They lack the confidence to take charge, particularly when the “superior,” middle-to-upper-class North Americans are involved.

They, like we, have internalized the messages of centuries of colonialism, slavery, and racism: Caucasians run things and everyone else follows.

They do not want the project to happen as much as we do. For example, they might know the project will accomplish little in their context but are afraid to tell us for fear of offending us.

They know that by letting us run the show it is more likely that we will bring in money and other material resources to give to them.

There are situations in which a lack of local leadership and managerial ability may require the outsiders to perform these functions, but we should be very, very cognizant of our tendencies as middle-to-upper-class North Americans to take charge and run things. Remember, the goal is not to produce houses or other material goods but to pursue a process of walking with the materially poor so that they are better stewards of their lives and communities, including their own material needs.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule! There are times when the Holy Spirit might move us to do something for the materially poor that they can do for themselves. But just remember that these situations are the exception, not the rule.'

When Helping Hurts

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