Sunday, January 15, 2012

Am I actually hurting the very people I so desperately want to help?

On my list of books to read in 2012
Phil and I had the privilege of attending a one day seminar, with the main speaker being one of the co-author's of the book "Helping without Hurting". This topic is hugely relevant to our lives as we are on the cusp of entering into a 'foreign' culture for the purpose of ministry and are both slightly petrified of messing it all up.  
This was something I hadn't really thought too deep about....I love helping others but today I had my eyes opened to the possibility that my good intentions in helping could hurt an individual or even a whole community! Talk about frozen in fear....but I know that is not what the authors wanted to accomplish. 

After completing the full day of seminars, the big picture started to form and make sense. It takes humility, a listening ear (listening for a long time before any action happens), building long term relationships, communication (work with the people), Godly wisdom, patience (change happens slowly over time) and love. It does not take a "I am more educated and can do things more efficiently than you are doing now so listen to me people!" kind of attitude. I thought to myself "oh, I don't think like that" but I was surprised that when we were addressing cultural differences and how they affect community relief, rehabilitation and development, how much of this attitude can actually seep out unintentionally. This is something I know I will have to keep in check for sure. When we are living in Africa, I will see so many things that I want to change for the better as soon as possible (living conditions, education, literacy, Hope in a Saviour not spirits etc) but research proves that going in with 'guns blazing' tends to ruin things and destroys potential long term relationships. Change is slow.  I think that will be my motto for our time and minstry in Africa. I'll let you know how it goes. :)
I am probably not doing this book justice with my simple observations but if you want to find out more about this relevant topic in missions and Christianity today, check out this book review

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