Poverty and evangelism

In preparation for going to Musana, one of the books that was recommended was When Helping Hurts – which talks about some of the problems and challenges with the ways the church (or society) tries to tackle the issue of poverty.

The book is due back to the library tomorrow so I thought I’d try to read a bit more before bed tonight, but I could not make it past this page.

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Much of the book talks about the importance of building relationships rather than working to fix problems.  That is, before you can even start to address issues like poverty, you need to know the people that you’re trying to help.  I was struck by this thought of going into ministry or addressing poverty as outlined on this page by starting from the mindset of “what’s wrong with you that I can fix?”  Ultimately, that doesn’t make it about the people that are being helped, but about the helper trying to solve a problem and earn some kind of spiritual brownie points.

And my mind was blown when I realized that we have a tendency to approach evangelism the same way that we often approach missions.

No, seriously.  How often we have a tendency to approach lost and broken people with the mindset that they are projects for us to fix, not actually caring to learn about the people themselves but treating them like notches on a belt.  Only God can save people.  We are called to make disciples – which means building relationships.

Are we going into the mission field because we TRULY CARE about the people we are serving, or are we going because we feel like we SHOULD be serving people and who and how doesn’t particularly matter?  Similarly, are we sharing the love of Christ because we TRULY CARE about people and therefore want them to know God’s love, or just because we feel like we SHOULD be evangelizing as one of the requirements of being a good Christian?

So, I just had to pop open my computer and type a quickie little blog post about this epiphany.

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