Global business of humanitarian aid

16 01 2017

I am watching a program on Netflix called POVERTY, INC. This excellent documentary seeks to demonstrate how the humanitarian aid industry has, in effect, become a global business which benefits the donor who possesses the power, while stripping motivation from the people who grow dependent on aid from outside. I recommend you view this program.

At minute 42, the show describes a “ladder” out of poverty, the steps of which empower people locked in poverty to gain the confidence to climb out of chronic poverty. These “steps” are:

  1. Legal protection from theft and violence
  2. Justice in the courts
  3. Legal title to one’s land
  4. Freedom to start and register a business
  5. Links to wider circles of exchange

The program argues that the successful effort to strengthen Europe after World War II (called the Marshall Plan) has not had this strengthening effect in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Needed aid after natural disasters has turned into “unnatural disasters” wherein aid agencies overstay the crisis and create dependency. Why work hard to develop local initiatives when the market is flooded with foods and goods from outside for free?

What is needed, purports POVERTY,INC., is for outside groups to help reconstruct the ladder. I recall hearing John Perkins comment on the oft-repeated analogy of the fishing pole. He said that it is better to teach a man to fish with his own pole than to continually give the man fish. But, Perkins added, he must also have access to the pond.

Are their agencies which, rather than perpetually handing out aid, are empowering local people by building the ladder?

What can one person do to contribute toward a solution instead of ignorantly perpetuating the problem?

(photocredit: WPphotosmart.

Poverty, Inc. website





Have our fears sent Jesus away? (Pt 3)

29 11 2016

We are looking at the curious incident where villagers witnessed Jesus delivering a man from demon possession, and then asked Jesus to leave. We’ve had a first and second post on the spiritual effect of fear. In this post I am wondering: What if the villagers who sent Jesus away because of fear decided instead to invite Him to stay? Or considering an applicational question:

WHAT IF WE WELCOMED JESUS TO CALM OUR FEARS? If we invite Jesus to come fully into our families and congregations, what would He do? What might His deliverance look like?

  1. If we welcomed Jesus fully, His presence would expose our fears. When Jesus set foot on the shore, the demons of fear were exposed, while the afflicted man ran toward Jesus in worship (Mark 5:6). We may be ignorant of deep fears which lie behind our attitudes of prejudice. We must spend time in prayerful invitation for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us these deep fears and anxieties which have become embedded in our hearts. We may experience internal resistance from those very fears as they are exposed, and fearful friends around us will surely entrench against such exposure.
  2. If we welcomed Jesus fully, we would identify fear-mongers around us. Society has become so filled with fearful voices that some have become deadened to scenes of violence. “Evening News” should more accurately be called “Evening Fears.” Christians should no longer allow purveyors in fear to speak into our living rooms or mobile devices. In fact, where possible, we should expose and rebuke their actions.
  3. If we welcomed Jesus fully, He would replace our spirit of fear. Scripture says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). If we will invite Jesus to stay with us, we will be launched in a new direction which will last all our lives.

We will increasingly receive God’s power to think, speak, and act against fear. The resurrection power of Christ will give courage to stand against the tide and willingly suffer for kingdom righteousness. We will experience victory over fear, for “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4b).

We will increasingly receive God’s love for others. Scripture says that perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:18). With love, the desire to perfect lovedefend the vulnerable will replace our need to protect ourselves. With love, the willingness to take risks for what is right will replace our need for control and safety.

And as we welcome Jesus to stay, we will increasingly receive a sound mind. The naturalistic culture around us constantly bombards us with multitudinous fears. But scripture tells us to not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1,2). We do that by intentionally seeking and embracing the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). Be warned, the mind of the world hates the mind of Christ. This single fact should be a warning to those of us who seek consensus with the broad way. But it should embolden us to pursue the narrow way which leads to life.

[photo credit: celebrationchurchlive.com]

 

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We who silently grieve

13 11 2015

SHE MEANT NO HARM

Undesired chores emerge when tending to a loved one’s death. I call to close her cell phone number, and when asked to explain the reason, I speak around the lump in my throat that my wife is deceased. Okay, she says, let me take care of that change for you. She meant no harm by her efficiency.

I go to the bank to remove my wife’s name from an account. The officer asks for my reason. She is deceased, I say. Let me talk to my manager, she replies. I wait in my loneliness. I wait, sensing the emptiness of the chair beside me. The officer returns. We’ll need a death certificate, she announces, meaning no harm.

As I drive home to get the document, tears run down along my face and I wonder what it would cost a bank in lost time for an officer to say she is truly sorry for my loss. To save on expense she could even skip the word “truly.” Just a sorry would help.

But I must be realistic. She can’t know that I weep in bed for the space beside me that now lies empty and cold. She can’t know that I break down and weep at the kitchen sink where my wife once smiled for the joy of feeding her family.

The Facebook friend who praises his wife on their anniversary can’t care that I won’t have any more. Just as the proud engagement stings the woman who longs to get married, or the birth announcement pains the infertile couple that has hoped in vain for a child for years. Grandma’s baby pictures shown so proudly ache in the heart that never held one, or lost one.

I have no moral for this story. I intend no guilt to be felt. In fact, we need glad announcements to counter those that sadden. Perhaps I write for the one who, like me, hurts today. One who, like me, will hurt for a really long time. To you, friend, I say that they mean no harm. Please forgive me if I have said or done insensitive things to you. I am truly sorry for your pain, for your loss. And I mean the “truly.”