Exploring Dependency in Mission

Over the past few years we have been greatly influenced by a book written by Glenn Schwartz called, "How Charity Destroyed Dignity." You can purchase this book at a very low cost through our online store. This book addresses the issues of dependency in mission and how to avoid it. Truthfully the book does not represent itself as having all of the answers; rather I believe the purpose of the book is to get those of us that do mission work to begin asking the right questions. Too many times we simply act, just respond, to the needs that we perceive in our work among the nations without thinking about the ramifications of our actions. We do not think about the long term impact of our actions. We do not consider how our "good-hearted intrusions" may be destroying initiative, killing the very personal faith we are endeavoring to foster. We often do not recognize that actions taken from far off are in all probability discouraging a more localized and more appropriate response. Too often we assume that others are incapable of caring for themselves and we are the very one perpetuating dependency in people. If people are taught to depend upon others they will in time learn to rest entirely and passively upon others, thus the cycle of dependency is begun. It is continued when the people wait for others to act on their behalf. The longer they do so, the more incapable they become of any independent action. The cycle is further perpetuated when we as leaders begin to believe that their inactivity is due to a lack of capacity. The fatal mistake we have made is in teaching others to depend upon man or institution rather than trusting in the God who provides. Like many others it is my sincere desire to give a compassionate response where a compassionate response is needed. I understand our Lord's instruction to care for the orphan and the widow, to cloth the naked and feed the hungry. I certainly believe that in times of crisis the church should be the first to respond. I am not arguing this. What I am addressing is the manner in which our policies and practices may be having disastrous results long after the present crisis is over. What I am asking is, can't we minister in such a way as to foster complete dependence on God. Can't we work among the nations without also creating the dependency we have historically created all over the world? Can't we do this in a way that is honest and Christ-honoring? Can't we fashion a strategy that takes into consideration the complexities of our actions? I believe that Love requires that we do.

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