Two nights ago we all sat down and watched the first part of the “Missions Dilemma” by Steve Saint. It definitely made me think. Steve is the son of Nate Saint, whom was killed in Ecuador by Waodani natives. Steve has been a lifelong missionary and he is asking the question, “Are we doing this right?”
Some may think, how can missions be wrong? How can sending people to spread God’s word and help people be wrong? We send thousands from America every year to fix what we think is the problem, but really we may be doing more harm than good. People go on a short term mission trip and do something with good intentions, but it can hurt the people. Often times we do something that the people can do themselves, but the missionaries come and “fix” it. The missionaries are blessed and changed, but the people suffer in the wake of the trip. I realize that overseas missions can greatly impact the life of the missionary (mine as well) but at what expense?
Frank, Alison, and I talked to Theophile and Elias (church leader) after the video. They shared how so many missionaries have come to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (neighboring country to Rwanda) and built something or taught in the church with good intentions, but it confused the people, created dependency, and left the natives feeling inferior. The missionaries often brought not just the Bible, but their culture as well. Our American culture: we see something that we think is broken or needs to be different so we fix it. That is not applicable in many mission situations.
As a side note, Theophile and Elias have great wisdom when it comes to missions. They are natives and have been greatly affected by what other missionaries have done, both good and bad. They want to see their people helped and reached for Jesus. They don’t necessarily want our culture or to be “fixed.”
Are we doing missions right? First, we have to take a step back and discern what we are doing. At the very least we have to do that. Let me be the first to say I don’t know the best way, but there has got to be better ways to use our resources: first for God’s kingdom, then for the people -- and not used for ourselves.
I can honestly say that Frank and Theophile are committed to doing the right thing. They are willing to continuously change and make adjustments so that Rwanda Challenge can build effective church leaders.
“Shepherding is for the benefit of the sheep, and not for the shepherds. “