Seth Godin wrote the following…
“It’s difficult to be a generous skeptic. Not only do we have to be clear and cogent and actionable, but we cross a social boundary when we speak up. We might be rejected, or scolded, or made to feel dumb. And of course there’s the risk that we’ll get our hopes up that something will improve, only to see it revert to the status quo.
So, most of the time, we don’t bother.
But when someone does care enough (about you, about the opportunity, about the work or the tool), the ball is in your court.
You can react to the feedback by taking it as an attack, deflecting blame, pointing fingers to policy or the CEO. Then you’ve just told me that you don’t care enough to receive the feedback in a useful way.
Or you can pass me off to a powerless middleman, a frustrated person who mouths the words but makes it clear that the feedback will never get used. Another way to show that you don’t care as much as I do. And if you don’t care, why should I?
One other option: you can care even more than I do. You can not only be open to the constructive feedback, but you can savor it, chew it over, amplify it. You can delight in the fact that someone cares enough to speak up, and dance with their insight and contribution.”
With That thought…I am taking the risk of being a what Seth calls, a generous skeptic. I’ve been called worse! LOL…Below are my thoughts…
How many years have we as Christians been doing good in Africa? After all the years of volunteering, creating 501c3’s, and other movements for doing good in God’s name…what have we changed?
Extreme poverty is still enslaving way too many in Africa and all other 3rd world countries.
Here’s my challenge…
I challenge all Christians to stop simply giving handouts…as good as that is…and do something great by working together towards creating self sufficiency in places that are literally imprisoned by extreme poverty because of welfare mentalities that have developed after decades, maybe centuries, of handouts.
Some might say, “we must give…we can’t get a starving person to listen to the good news of Jesus if their stomach is growling, so we must feed the hungry.” My reply is, Duh!…but if all we do is keep feeding the hungry, then our love of giving will entrap the hungry to depend on us to feed them for the rest of their lives. That is not some ignorant guess…that is a proven fact after hundreds of years of trying to change 3rd world countries…with no poverty conquering results to prove otherwise.
If all we do is continue to ship food, clothing, etc over to Africa, then we are a part of the problem, not the solution. Have you ever wondered what would happen if we took all the money used to create and ship food to Africa and instead used it to create agriculture programs in the rich and fertile soil of Africa, or used it to create business/economy training for the incredibly intelligent 3rd world citizen…, we would wipe out hunger and lack of economy in record time! Possibly in just one generation.
Another question we must start asking…As loving and kind as Child Sponsorship is…is it conquering the BIG PICTURE problems of 3rd world countries? (If the answer is yes, then show me the facts) Your sponsorship pays for that child’s education and some food and supplies…do you know what kind of school your sponsored child is attending? Do you know how much of the money invested goes to feeding and educating that child? If you are doing the good work of paying for that child to be blessed…are you asking questions about the plan for that child to learn how to stand on his/her own two feet to conquer their personal poverty? Many of the schools in Africa have a 1 Teacher to more than 500 students ratio. They may be going to school, but is their any learning going on? Is your Child Sponsorship program steadily engraining a welfare mentality in the child you support and the community he/she lives in?
Those who are committed to Child Sponsorship are very loyal to it. I understand. I see the beauty of relationship in Child Sponsorship. However, in the shadows of Child Sponsorship, are many questions that I’m not sure are being asked. Like…is there a better way? Is it possible that my supporting one child actually hurts the whole community? Is the money I give even going to the child? Is anybody asking if Child sponsorship is simply a money making business model? I have heard two Child Sponsorship organizations, on the inside, say, “Child Sponsorship is the ‘bread and butter’ that sustains our organization.” Is anybody asking if Child Sponsorship is supposed to even be a business? I know that helping one child in sponsorship matters to that one child, just like the starfish stuck on the beach story, but why…after hundreds of years…are things not improving in 3rd world countries? Is anybody asking…”is there a better way?” “Are we being successful in our ultimate goals to love our neighbor?” On the surface it looks as if we love that Child and community by giving, but if we are actually creating a welfare state, are we truly loving our neighbor?
I fear that some American Organizations might be cognizant of the fact that if we train the people in Africa to grow great food and learn to sustain themselves, or realize that child sponsorship might be a part of the big picture problem, then many of them wouldn’t be needed today in America and thus many American’s wouldn’t get the paychecks they receive monthly and would have to find different work to provide for their families. (Is anybody asking these questions today?) I do not intend to insult…I intend to be a part of lasting solutions that really demonstrate love for the least of these.) Someday, we all stand before Jesus and the motives of our hearts will be revealed.
On that note…if you are tempted…
Please do not irresponsibly drop your child sponsorship. I’m simply challenging all readers….IS ANYBODY ASKING THESE TOUGH QUESTIONS TODAY? I think there is great danger is just blindly giving. There is greater danger in not asking these questions and thus blindly giving in a loving way to the demise and entrapment of 3rd world countries. But it seems so loving to help thew way we do.
Now…on the other side of this story is the 501c3 organization that is being forced to report its financials publicly. They must make their financial decisions based off your ability to see those decisions via website and your demands. This is a double edged sword. I realize accountability and transparency are important. But you need to know it is full of hypocrisy. If you are demanding a 501c3 to report is weekly and monthly financials….are you doing this in your personal life? If you are a Ministry and are giving of your tithes to a 501c3 Mission org, and at the same time demanding them to answer all your questions and have full details in front of you…then…are you doing this for your contributors as well? If you are a contributor and you are demanding that the mission org you support must tell you how much money is going toward administrative costs…Are you asking that of your local church pastor, your local bank, your local education, your local taxes, your local schools? Or just that 501c3? I find it fascinating that our Christian world has demanded the “do good” organizations to have to report it’s financials, administrative costs, etc on public websites to be graded and given stars by that website to help the public “trust” that specific grade so they feel secure in giving towards that orgs work.
Where are the websites that do this to every Church that sits on the street corners of America? Where is the grade for them? Pasting the pastor’s salary for the whole world to see. What about the local bank, the local Starbuck’s manager’s salary. If you require it of a world mission organization, then it must be required of you to paste your take home salary, your expenditures and how much you give as an American Christian for Tithes and offerings. Don’t require of others what you won’t do yourself. In case you are wondering, I do not buy into that game. I will never post such information. If you would like to know what Return Hope does with every penny, just give me a call, let’s set up an appointment and I’ll put it all in front of you to see our integrity and where every penny goes. I will expect you to bring your personal financial reports so I can see where all your money goes as well. That is fair. Please live by the following standard of Jesus, “Treat others like you would like to be treated yourself.” Luke 6:31
I do not think there anything wrong with asking organizations the tough accountability questions. I know for a fact that there are organizations who have made a great profit being a non-profit? I’m not sure that is completely wrong. Much good work is taking place under that non for profit-profit making org. This whole blog is simply a way to get some questions started in your head about how successful we all are really being in our ministry efforts to solve some huge world problems. I am not a fan of the organization that takes advantage of people who give to them. I’m not sure the full answers to stop such evil. I do not think we can stop it. There is a ton of craftiness that takes place behind closed door staff meetings and accounting meetings. We must ask the tough questions. We must seek accountability, but my issue is that you cannot demand it and then not do it personally yourself. There is a lot of huckster and hypocrital behavior taking place under the name of Jesus. Have you ever heard of “selling of indulgences” from the dark days of religion? (if not…Google it) From the outward appearance…paying for an indulgence seemed a beautiful and wise thing….but in truth it was pure evil done under the umbrella of good. Pure profiteering off of the poor, done in the name of religion. It happened for so long that even the manipulative leaders began to believe it was biblical and right.
Is the billions of dollars being raised to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, etc…being used to its fullest potential? Is all the money we are throwing at these horrid problems actually solving problems or creating bigger ones?
Are you part of the problem in 3rd world countries? Please be intelligent in your love and obedience to honor the commands of Jesus found in the last few paragraphs of Matthew 25.
We as American’s love to give. It makes us feel good. The Bible tells us that it is better to give than to receive. Therein lies our problem. Is it possible that in our giving we have consequentially taught the recipient that it is “better” to receive?
If I am a citizen of a 3rd world country and my daily needs were met through contributions from America…why would I be motivated to solve my owe needs? All I have to do is show up each day to be fed. Why should I work?
I am in Africa regularly. Everywhere I go in Uganda I am surrounded by rich fertile soil and a huge population of very smart and strong local people. But most of the locals come running with hands outstretched in the universal language of “Help me, I’m in need.” All the while chanting a name that refers to you… “Mizungoo“… as you pull up in your mission trip vehicle to hand out more goods. The term Mizungoo pretty much means, “White American with Money”.
I hate the term Mizungoo…for them to even chant it, is like a brainwashing mantra engraining into their psyche that they will never be good enough or capable enough…that they will forever have to wait on the Mizungoo to help them have any kind of quality in life. We as the Mizungoo get off our bus and start giving. Dresses for the little girls, soccer balls for the little boys, we arrive with toothpaste, sugar and toiletries, shoes, jeans, our old clothes, etc, etc, etc. Giving is good!….right? And we think it’s cute to buy Mizungoo Tshirts at the airports on the way home from our life changing mission trip.
Has any Mizungoo ever asked the little girl who is lined up in a row of hundred others waiting to be handed a new pillow case dress…if she wants to work hard and earn a beautiful new dress of her choice? So…when she picks it out after earning it by getting better grades or doing a work routine for a solid week, she will take total ownership in her chosen dress and be very proud of a lesson in life that has been learned…HARD WORK PAYS OFF! The alternative is to just make sure you pay attention so that when the Mizungoos pull up in their mission trip busses, you fight and claw your way to be in the first 100 in line to make sure you get a dress, and then repeat it next summer. Why would I ever learn to work hard and provide for myself, if all I have to do is hold my hand out and receive food, water, clothing, medical treatment every time a Mizungoo group comes into town? It is the same with soccer balls, candy, medical supplies, etc.
There is something special that happens to a girls dignity, when she works hard and earns the opportunity to enter a room full of dresses to pick out the color of her hearts desire! Or…she can stand in line, lift her hands, and have the mizungoo put the color they think will be best for her. Is that how you would like your daughter to be treated and trained? Are little girls in 3rd world countries not as good as your daughter?
The way American Mission Orgs do mission trips is comparable to going to the zoo. All the people with money buy tickets to come and visit the animals. We pack some food and water and gifts for the animals. The caged being comes running when they see us and we ooh and aah and take pictures with these unique creatures so we can run home and show everybody how cool our zoo trip was. When those who were afraid to go to the zoo with you, see all your pictures, they tell you how brave and good you are. It feels good to visit the zoo. We feel important after visiting the zoo and seeing such unique things and doing such a good thing.
Has anybody ever asked the zoo animal if they would prefer to not live in a cage? Do they feel humiliated sitting in their cage to wait for the workers and visitors to feed them. Has anybody ever asked the Lion if he’d prefer to hunt for his own food? Has anybody asked the tiger if all the pictures are actually humiliating? However, after a while, the unique creatures we keep in the cage at the zoo, get used to the cage. It forgets what its like to live in the wild, free. Do it long enough and beautiful babies are born in the zoo cage and they don’t know the difference. They never knew what it was like to live free. They prefer the cage. They get very excited when they know new visitors are coming to see them and take more pictures of them stuck in a cage, but they love the new gifts that come with them. The beautiful caged creatures are confident the zoo entry fee will pay for their food and care for the rest of their lives. In a cage.
OTHER QUESTIONS…back to the point…
Why would an orphanage work to grow its own food, if time after time it continually just has to sit and wait for shipment containers to show up with the scientifically subsidized rice, beans and vitamins to live on? All the while some company in America is making a pretty good business out of it all. I think it is the 21st century’s form of slavery. It cost 15,000 US dollars to ship one of these containers full of food. Is anybody asking any questions about all the open acres that are sitting idle in Africa not growing food? How much would it cost to train the whole orphanage to grow and produce their own crops. How many young orphans would come of out that orphanage ready to start their own agriculture life? Or…we Americans can just feel good about lazily giving our check to see that those people get fed…”In Jesus name…Amen!” Its all so zoo-ish.
These are just a few of the questions. I could write on for pages more. Do you get my point?
What is the solution? Real solutions will never be solved by just writing a check! That is only the tiny beginning. Real solutions break down the cage and let the beautiful out! True beauty is most beautiful when it is living in its God given nature. We must begin to work smarter in how we solve 3rd world extreme poverty.
The solution is for every American Organization that intends to help 3rd world countries, literally stop giving handouts. Nothing should be given unless there is even just a small reciprocation of work. We must begin to train and develop industry, economy and work ethic.
A good small example is when Return Hope’s Ugandan director came across a widow’s home where she was raising 3 young children on her own. She had nearly nothing. Inside her little mud hut were a couple pieces of foam that her children slept on, their clothes were in tatters. Their environment of living in the dirt was written all over them. They looked exhausted. They were exhausted.
It seems the right thing to do would be to simply buy them new clothes, mattresses, and improve the overall condition of this family. That is what would feel good to me. And to them. But…I refused to give them anything. I told our director to meet with this mother and her children and explain that we would help them, but all we asked in return was some work and ownership on their part. Would they help clean up the school grounds, wipe the chalkboards, and serve in their community? Yes! They were all smiles! Of course they did all that and more. Do you think they are taking great ownership in their new mattresses and clothes, they earned? You bet they are. Do you think they are spending more time around the school now? Do you think they will see the new school building going up and now they can come in and work hard and in return develop an education. You bet! The alternative would have them simply wearing out their new items until another giver comes along.
There are simple answers to the problems all our loving-giving has created. It will be no simple task in getting people who are living on welfare to relearn how God intended life to be…WORKed out! It will be no simple task to get Americans who would prefer to just write a check, to also get out and get their hands dirty in the work of teaching and training….not just giving.
The solution?…Nobody get’s anything unless they invest some time, talent or treasure!
No more handouts. Its causing great poverty and pain.
I challenge you, your not for profit org, or anybody, to start being a part of the solution.
Please don’t let your GOOD giving be detrimental to the GREAT work that we need to be accomplishing.
Good is the enemy of Great!
Let’s conquer extreme poverty! It begins with you and me.
I vow that Return Hope will be a part of the solution.