I interrupt this series to call your attention to this review of When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves over at the Jesus Creed site.
I’ve not read this book, but it’s been recommended to me by a number of people, and the review shows it to reflect a philosophy similar to Tending to Eden by Scott C. Sabin. It looks to be another excellent resource on doing missions in Third World countries.
Does it ever occur to those leaders who take bright, enthusiastic American young people to Haiti to build hundreds and hundreds of church buildings and schools that Haitians are capable of building them? Do they even consider how many jobs they take away from Haitians because of their well-intentioned construction enterprises? Does it occur to them that when Haitians see an American youth group put up a cinder block school building in just ten days that this could contribute to a sense of inferiority as these Americans do in ten days what seems to Haitians like a miracle?
Altruistic Americans have done to the Haitians what an out-of-control welfare system has done to so many poor people here in the United States. It has made them into people who are socially and psychologically dependent on others to solve their problems and who have lost confidence in their own capabilities.
Now that we’ve been forced to see the social disaster of Haiti, we are being forced to confront the reality of our ineptness to do long-lasting good there and in many other places.
It’s time to seriously consider how to help the people we minister to, rather than merely whether our kids are learning valuable life lessons and building great relationships. We need for missions to be about, you know, the mission.