For the last 20+ years missions and charity work has been mostly motivated by what makes us feel good as the giver. Unfortunately, after years of this we’ve expended an absurd amount energy, money, and thought without accomplishing much in the realm of moving communities beyond poverty… but we definitely feel good about it.
Maybe what feels good to us is actually cuasing apathy and disinterest among the people we are trying to help. It’s holding them back from owning their own communities and being the change they want to see. What’s the point? If I work hard I can save money and paint my own house. If I do nothing but sit around and wait and look poor, some organization will come and paint my house for me.
Robert Lupton says it well in his book, Compassion Justice, and the Christian Life.
Doing for a community what it is capable of doing for itself is charity at its worst.
The focus has to be on community members seeing themselves as the solution, not some outside program.
Without teaching capability and responsibility all the money and good intentions in the world won’t end poverty.
If you got in this world of international aid to feel good, relief and handouts are the way to go. If you got into this because you truly want to end poverty, handouts simply aren’t an option.