So you guys, I read something that really blew my mind this week. I know this blog is kind of bipolar sometimes — we go from marathons to African orphans to delectable desserts and back again. But that’s me — that’s the span of my personality and all the many things my little mind encompasses. I appreciate those that keep coming back even when every post isn’t right up your ally. Thank you for being here.
As time draws near for my trip to Congo (37 days but who’s counting?!), I am really digging in on my reading. The latest book I finished is called “When Helping Hurts.” I’m convinced that anyone who is involved in helping the poor — either locally, nationally or internationally — must read this book. Helping those in need requires more thought than it seems from the outset.
|When I was in Kenya, women like this one traveled days to get basic medical care at our makeshift pharmacy and facility. But, now I wonder, what happens when we left after two weeks and she had nowhere to go next time she needed help for her child?|
My take away? While it is often easiest for us to just give money, that’s not always the best or only option. The ultimate goal is to empower people within their own communities to help themselves. That sometimes requires our money to start but nearly always requires time, relationship building, trust, accountability and commitment.
The book has a big section on short-term mission trips and how so many of them rush into help with too many people, too many resources and too much excitement. After a couple of weeks, the team leaves taking their spirit and their resources with them. You can come in and build something fantastic but if you leave the people there with no way of upkeep or no incentive or training to maintain it, you’ve done nothing but provide false hope and the wrong impression that certain cultures (hello privileged North Americans) are the only ones who can “fix” things. That is SO a quick recap of a little gist of the book. Here’s a video from the site that may explain a bit better:
While most of us think about helping people who are materially poor, usually there’s a lot more missing than just food and clothing. For example, many homeless people or fathers who cannot provide groceries for their children have lost a sense of dignity. It’s so important to value the input of the these community members in how they will rebuild their lives and their communities. The attitude must be that we are all equally valuable in God’s eyes — which is completely true in reality so let’s approach it that way.
Your short-term mission trip is someone else’s long-term life. As I prepare to go to the Congo, I realize these trips shouldn’t be short-term at all. They should be long-term investments in the well-being of the people and the places we are going to serve. Just like giving the person you pass on the street each day a sandwich isn’t helping them long term — it’s helping them for lunch that day. But how can you help someone invest in their future? That’s what we need to be thinking about when it comes to helping people.
Needless to day, I’m more excited about Congo each day. I’ve just begun another book on the history of Congo, “King Leopold’s Ghost.” I am actually surprised by my own fascination with the culture but I’m eating up every word of the history going back to the 1400s. To be honest, I am more interested in this than I am American history. God has so put this country in and on my heart!
Additionally, I learned about another initiative to help folks learn more about this misunderstood country. A video below:
I’m gathering up everything I can learn about Congo — and Africa as a whole regarding U.S. policy initiatives and more. Things I thought I knew are wrong and things I never knew I wanted to know are coming to light. I’m so thankful that I have a thirst for knowledge and that I have developed a passion for this kind of ministry.
Long ago, I prayed that God would help me see people through His eyes. When I was a little girl, I listened to Amy Grant’s Greatest Hits album over and over again. One of the songs is called “My Father’s Eyes.” That song was seared into my head. It has only been in the past couple of years that I’ve seen that prayer truly answered. It’s not to say anything of myself — only to say that every bit of love or compassion I have comes straight from the Lord. Because of Him.
If you are interested in donating to my trip, click here to do so online. I personally need about $700 more and our team needs to raise about $3,000 for materials, medicine, supplies to bring with.