One of the best short-term trip resources out there

Ok, so if you’ve read this at all, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of the book “When Helping Hurts” because it explains a lot of the problems we Christians have when it comes to helping people. We think our good intentions are enough… but the sad truth is sometimes even the best intentions can still cause harm to the people we are trying to help (and to ourselves). One of my roles is to prepare short-term teams who come out to help with iThemba, and I am SO excited because I am hopefully going to be able to do some training with our local church here in Hilton, South Africa, about some of this stuff.

But sometimes you just can’t read a book. Sometimes, you want someone to just tell it to you. I understand. Enter THE BEST 20 MINUTE VIDEO ON SHORT-TERM MISSIONS AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TO HIT THE INTERWEBS!

To watch it, go here:

Why I love it:

1. The first part succinctly sums up some of the unasked questions we really should be asking about short-term trips: How are we framing these trips to ourselves and others? Are they really helping? Is it ethical to take a trip for 2 weeks that could pay the salary of 7 local people? We don’t have to stop short-term trips, or feel guilty about them, but how can we fit them into a long-term impact model?

2. Then there is an awesome 3 minute info-graphic explaining how to define poverty. (Hint, it’s not about money, it’s about broken relationships).

3. The second part unpacks a Christian view of poverty as broken relationships, and talks about how we need to make sure our “helping” is really addressing problems and not creating dependency or feeding into a “god-complex” that helpers sometimes get.

If you’re working at a church, if you’re on a missions committee, if you’re remotely interested in poverty and want to help, if you’re going on a short-term trip, or have ever been on one… take 20 minutes and watch this. And if your’e super fired up, you can buy the book (Helping without Hurting in short-term missions) and gain access to ALL the video sessions.

Sometimes things are so good, you can’t just keep them to yourself.

The Real Customers

Here’s a really great, really short video about how good intentions are not enough when it comes to assisting those in need. The gap between the kind intentions of the US and the actual needs in Africa is very large. A lot of times someone in the West comes up with a GREAT idea that everyone in the majority world needs (cynically, let me say also without consulting anyone in the majority world), gets lots of rich people really excited about it, mass produces it and ships it over…. then wonders why these needy people aren’t so excited by it.

(One of ) the problem(s) in this little transaction is the donor is dictating what and how and when to give—they are the “real” customer– and the person receiving the goods has no say. I am not convinced that the alternative suggested in the video (matching grants) is the perfect answer, but at least it seems to be going in the right direction. I also  like the comparison of a Martian giving marriage advice. What do you think?

ps: the Chalmers center also has some other interesting videos on similar topics.