Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Working with Short-term Outreach Teams (3)

When I started blogging, one of the first topics I wrote about was partnerships in mission. If you click on this link, you will find everything I wrote about partnerships. One of the reasons why I believe that partnerships often stop functioning effectively, is because most partnerships in mission are one way roads where resources are channelled from the “haves” to the “have-nots” which are only too glad to receive all kinds of gifts. But this usually leads to a very unhealthy relationship and eventually the people handing out the gifts get tired of doing this and then the relationship often stops.
I can’t remember where he wrote about it, but I recall that David Bosch once mentioned that both partners in a mission relationship should be giving. Obviously, the poorer of the two can hardly support the richer partner financially, but in most cases they have other things which they can give. What needs to happen is for the richer partner to realise that they have a need for what the poorer partner can give to them. One example of this would be the caring spirit that is often found amongst poorer communities – something which I have heard time and time again really touches people from richer communities who live in circumstances where they do not really need to take care of others.
In the past, when hosting short-term outreach teams, the team would greet me at the end of the time with the words: “When we came, we prepared ourselves to give to these people, but it feels as if we had received more than we could give.” Nowadays, when hosting a short-term outreach team, we prepare ourselves to give to them. We know much more about the culture than the visitors know. We know much more about the needs of the people. We know much more about ways of taking care of people, using the minimum resources. We have much more experience in taking care of people in need, of encouraging the sick and the dying. In most cases we know much more about HIV and AIDS. The list goes on. What the visitors have to offer we receive gladly, but I inform them beforehand that we are going to expose them to situations which most of them have never experienced, but we do it on purpose to help them better to understand what we are doing and in such a way equipping them to use their newly acquired knowledge in other places.
No longer do we have to feel guilty or ashamed because of what we are receiving. We are thankful for everything that is given to help in the ministry, but at the same time we are sharing our experience and our example with others, so that we can truly be equal partners in accomplishing the task God gave us to do.


Thursday, May 29, 2008 - Posted by | Building relations, Cross-cultural experiences, Culture, David Bosch, Dependency, Giving, HIV & AIDS, Home-based Caring, Mission, Partnership, Short-term outreaches, Support teams, Sustainability, Swaziland, Theology

1 Comment »

  1. I started to leave all my thoughts here…but it turned out to be very long. So, I posted my response on my own blog:

    good topic – with lots of issues to talk about.

    Comment by lmparks | Thursday, June 5, 2008 | Reply

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