Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
I have read this verse many times before and it has inspired me to motivate and dream big for what I could do…. What “we” could do with our lives. However, is the motivation misplaced? Does God really want us to work in other fields when our fields are just as dry? Do I need to go back to Uganda to be fulfilled?
There is a first-rate commitment to a second-rate mission.” (in regards to mission work) That is what Roger, a leader in global church planting, said as he looked at the rock climbers ascending a cliff in the Alps. Roger spent decades serving Christ and planting churches on four continents. But after reflecting on his labor for the kingdom of God, his confession surprised many of us. “I’ve given most of my energy to a second-rate mission as well,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. Church planting is great. But someday that mission will end. My first calling is to live with God. That must be my first commitment.”
Roger has a point sometimes we fall in the danger of idolatry missions. We want to serve for God instead of knowing God and it can be very damaging to us. Now I have struggled with my decision to come back from Uganda day and night since I have been back. I would love nothing more than to serve those people again and start up that Bible mission again. However, by doing so am I more in love with the people seeing me as their savior or am I more in love with being saved? Affirmation is a good thing but sometimes our reasons to fulfill Gods promises tend to be the outcome of our own satisfactions.
I don’t believe short term missions are effective ways of development and sustainability. However I do believe God’s work transcends time and whatever work I put into a community God can use it, if it is of His design. Sustainability is a key word we see too many times I think I find myself struggling with the idea that most Christian organizations or churches are not equipped to sustain development and healthy programs and can be a hindrance to the societies they want to help. Food drives (feedings) from a first glance seem harmless and helpful but over a long period of time can be damaging and crippling to communities that have been conditioned to stand in lines and hold out their hands. There is no development in that! We have to decide either we stay and help them build agrarian communities/ productive economically stable societies or we don’t go at all. It’s the same way about feeding the homeless, it’s not wrong to do that but it’s a one dimensional answer for a very complex problem and overtime it hurts the community instead of helping it.
“I wish we questioned the aid model as much as we are questioning the capitalism model. Sometimes the most generous thing you can do is just say no.”
― Dambisa Moyo
Sustainable development is a pattern of economic growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come. It’s in question and subjective to define what projects are sustainable but what I find is that our own hearts for God are not sustainable to help ourselves and that’s when we fall. into a trap. When we come to believe that our faith is primarily about what we can do for God in the world, it is like throwing gasoline on our fear of insignificance. The resulting fire may be presented to others as a godly ambition, a holy desire to see God’s mission advance–the kind of drive evident in the Apostle Paul’s life. But when these flames are fueled by fear they reveal none of the peace, joy, or love displayed by Paul. Instead the relentless drive to prove our worth can quickly become destructive. But there is a dark side to this drivenness. Gordon MacDonald calls it “missionalism.” It is “the belief that the worth of one’s life is determined by the achievement of a grand objective.”
So I have been torn on one hand I want to be the light of the world and disciple the nations, but on the other sometimes the people I go to help end up suffering more after my presence. International development can be a tricky line of work both in a secular world view and in a Christian world view. I believe the Word of God needs to be heard, but at what cost of destruction and negligence. Sometimes it’s not enough just to convince somebody that Jesus is real.
“For even if the whole world believed in resurrection, little would change until we began to practice it. We can believe in CPR, but people will remain dead until someone breathes new life into them. And we can tell the world that there is life after death, but the world really seems to be wondering if there is life before death.”
― Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
But sometimes our mission isn’t to talk about Jesus as much as it is for self-glorification. We want to take pictures of us handing out food and build solar showers to “extend Jesus’s love” when what we are really doing is affirming ourselves. This is destructive because then we are no longer working and caring for those who need help in the long run but just to give us a spiritual ego boast, and at the end of the day it is the communities we help that ultimately suffer.
“evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that aid to Africa has made the poor poorer, and the growth slower. The insidious aid culture has left African countries more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment. It’s increased the risk of civil conflict and unrest (the fact that over 60% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is under the age of 24 with few economic prospects is a cause for worry). Aid is an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster.