Hi there! If you are here it is most likely because you are continuing to explore The Scripture Scout Missionary's Personal Proverbs. You don't even need to back track, but please feel free! Let's start Part 3 with a cute/funny little story ...
Joseph came into the missionary’s house with vomit all over his shirt. “I read the handbook, Profa Fann, but I didn’t believe it!” The handbook for this particular mission point encouraged the participants not to make it a habit of giving away candy. Why? Because that organization has become calloused and is without compassion to those who might enjoy a tiny luxury such as chocolate? By no means! It is because the writers of said handbook knew all too well that the children’s’ stomach was not accustomed to the sweets, resulting in, well, Joseph’s nasty shirt and a sleepless night for their mamas.
“He kept looking at me with those sweet little eyes and I just kept giving him Pixie Stix!”
Nice, huh? Why is that little story important? Continue these silly proverbs, any examples and challenges, with an open mind, a ready heart, and a willingness to say,“Wow, this sure ain’t gonna be me!”
“Give a man a fish; you feed him for a day. Give his daughter a bunch of candy and she might throw up all over you.”
(Gentle Translation: Let's Try Not to Foster Dependency)
God repeatedly uses short-term missionaries as introductions to the nationals and career missionaries who want to reach them. They generate interest and approachability. And let’s be honest, it is easier to evangelize a receptive people when one is passing out food and clothing. But there are countless stories of nationals in various countries who have become so dependent on the “fast food missionary" that their own inventiveness may be damaged.
Many have heard Lao Tzu’s famous proverb, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Sadly, this wise adage has gone ignored in many short-term trips. There is nothing wrong with compassion. Compassion is a blessing and a spiritual gift. But we must be careful not to invalidate it by refusing to be shrewd with it. Sometimes it has been used as an excuse to do the wrong thing.
Have we considered what we are doing long-term when we come down with free clinics and free giveaways? Does it occur to us that we may be stealing their dignity when we say, “Here. Take it. I can get more!” The team who has free give-aways will most likely have chaos on their hands; will encourage begging, and dependency. The team who lets people bring their own payment, be it be a live chicken or the monetary equivalent of two cents, will have a good time, encourage skill, and preserve dignity. But something like this happens all the time: what if both teams come to the same place in the same month? A perplexing message will be sent. And, what are the long-term effects? Maybe we should spend some time in dialogue with our team leaders and experienced missionaries concerning why so many people are poor, sick, or dependent. This might help us be more attentive to the possible greater need of becoming self-sufficient.
We must seriously consider that humanitarian work is not necessarily mission work. A hungry child with hollow eyes is merely evidence of Satan’s hold on the world. The fact that this child’s belly is full does not necessarily loosen his grip. And although seeds are being sown, we must ask ourselves if we are truly planting or if we are merely throwing seeds on the ground and hoping for a harvest.
Joseph has become wise about his candy-giving. Oh, he still brings it, but he’s very cautious about the quantity – plus he wears a bib. ;)