"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Friday, June 18, 2010

I read something the other day from a missionary. I immediately recognized the tactic he was using; but it still irritated me to no end. You have seen them. It’s like they are over-spiritualizing everything they do or encounter to make you feel guilty because you have more ($) or better living conditions than the people they work with or around them or maybe even themselves. They tell a story about some difficulty they went through, and then they tell you of a national who they think has it way worse than they do. They should no longer feel bad about what they went through, but are guilty because they still don’t have it as bad as the other guy…and you should also feel bad (and that should cause you to give to their ministry). Don’t get me wrong; I understand that to raise money you often have to pull at the heart strings. And to do that, people will most often try to compare you (or them) to the nationals.
But this note started off as a personal note to tell us how they were doing, themselves, personally. Why not just be truthful and say, “I had to tell God-this sucks right now. I am leaning into you, ‘cuz I just really don’t like this. This is HARD. I really DON’T LIKE IT.” And then tell me, “You know, God is teaching and trying me. And you know what else-it is TOUGH. It is HARD, it even HURTS. BUT-GOD IS GOD and HE has a plan and purpose for me. Keep praying!”
Should you use your trial to benefit your funding? There is a song playing on Christian radio a lot lately- “Better than a Hallelujah”. I don’t know if that is what it is called, but it basically tells you it is okay to pour out your frustrations, angers, fears, hurts to the Lord. God loves them too! They are honest-they are better than a hallelujah sometimes! Tell us something is difficult, that you are trusting God more, but really, it’s HARD. And leave it at that. We will believe you, we will pray for you, and we will appreciate you for being HONEST.
Now, it is true that according to our Western standards, in most third world countries, the nationals have a hard life. That is what WE would say; in fact, we tell them so. Most of these nationals were content with the conditions they live in (it is their normal), until we tell them that what they know is not good enough and they should have this or that. I am not saying it isn’t hard-most of us couldn’t imagine it. But it is what they know. I have met people in the poorest slums of Lusaka that were the most joyous, most trusting-in-God-to-provide people I have ever or will ever meet. Why do people feel the need to bring all other countries in the world up to the standard we is the West have? And why do they think they will “solve” all their problems by just giving it to them? Not by letting the nationals earn it through hard work? By letting their culture advance in an appropriate and responsible way? They have no idea the problems they create. Better yet, why don’t WE learn to live simpler, trust God more, and just enjoy what we have? When people think that way, their lives are changed-they are transformed.
Really, I get that we are to help the widows and the orphans. The Bible says that, and we should do that. It is just having been there and lived there, some of the tactics we as Westerners use are just insulting. It just shows that they have a complete lack of understanding of the culture and/or they do it to get you to write a check. For me it has such a used car salesman feel to it or a televangelist. And then there are others who really DO get the culture and you listen to them, and it just feels right. They get it, they aren’t forcing it, you don’t feel guilty, you want to be involved because it is just exciting.
We need to be very careful about who and what we give our money to. It is NOT criticizing to ask questions. It’s being good stewards of the resources God has given us; and really, of what God wants for those receiving our funds too.

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