Archives For missions

I have a good friend who is from the local community in South Africa near my home. He organizes a number of after school programs to create hope in the young people.

He regularly tells me stores of how he receives cookie donations from older (insert the race which is economically better off) for his young, poor (insert economically worse off race) kids.

“These folks feel so good about helping these poor kids!”

This friend is an honest voice in my life to point out the sometimes misguided attempts to help people. I’m so grateful for this refreshingly honest voice.

He can tell when people really love those they are serving or if they are merely looking for photo ops or feel good moments.

America, Meet the World

March 28, 2016

Hello America. Meet the Rest of the World.

Note; This is not a political post but one of identification.

The closer we get to the election in the United States, the more comments, eye rolling, and jokes I am hearing as an American living overseas.

My journey as an American in missions has spanned over 25 years. When I began, everyone loved and warmly welcomed Americans. I can remember being in the Philippines and everyone shouted, “Hey Joe” at me, referring to G.I. Joe. It was with warmth and not derision.

The looks of disbelief started with the war in the Balkans and increased with the invasion of Iraq.

Upon moving to South Africa under Bush II, I often wished I could change my accent. Things improved remarkably over the last eight years under Obama. His African roots may have had something to do with this.

Better Together

October 1, 2015

As a zealous, young missionary I seemed to make the same mistake over and over. Now as a veteran, I find the same never-ending truth must remain continually before me.

People are not our projects.

We never set out to do this intentionally. Our mistakes are made in ignorance. Our desire is to do good, to help others, and to bring change.

Even with these godly desires, we must remain ever careful to not walk in superiority and arrogance.

The message “I have something to give you” may be true, but must be balanced out with a healthy dose of humility and a learning spirit.

Because the truth is, we all have something to give each other.

Examine these two statements. Although similar, they can create two completely different perspectives.

“I have walked with so and so for this many years.”

and

When talking about grace, we often give negative connotations to words like effort, performance, and accomplishment.

They become four letter, anti-grace cuss words.

And if one is gaining their approval from God and others based on what they do, than a negative perception is the correct one.

We cannot earn or be worthy of God based on striving and effort. Broken people produce broken things. This means we cannot improve on perfection.

This line of thinking is reflected by the oft heard cliché, “We are not human doings, but human beings”

True…

But there is another side to achievement.

If we have our value and worth in God, based on what He has done for us, then there is a proper place of accomplishment in our lives.

God created us to work.

“They are not ready…”

These may be some of the most frequently uttered words when missionaries consider passing the baton of leadership.

They can also be the most painful.

One of the leaders I work with shares the story of being a young, oppressed worker in South Africa during the time of apartheid.

A white Afrikaner man (the people group previously in power) wanted to bring him and a few others hailing from different ethnic backgrounds into a leadership meeting. At the time, this was unheard of; even in a missions organization which championed people from all nations, tribes, and tongues.

When met with resistance from the other meeting participants, the white Afrikaner suggested they at least be able to observe, even if they did not participate.

He wanted to see these young men learn and gain experience so they could step into leadership roles in the future