On Giving to Charity
Wisdom from a veteran engineer missionary as he reminisces on working with nationals in a poverty stricken nation.
“When I showed up here, a young guy with a lot of energy and no gray hair, I approached problems like an engineer. This is the problem and this is what needs to be done. So let’s figure out how to do it and get on with it. It has taken a long time to understand dignity. People matter. People are all that matter.
When you give someone something, they have to give you something back. There is no such thing as a free lunch. A person who doesn’t have anything to give back ends up giving you a piece of their dignity or self esteem. You have to be very careful giving out to people unless it is someone you have built a relationship with.
All these deals where people come to poverty stricken places and want to give out food or clothes or money or whatever to people who really are in need or appear to be, aren’t really giving anyone anything. They are purchasing the dignity and self-esteem of people who might not have it to spare.
People that have been trying hard and maybe had some bad breaks don’t always have a lot of options. They have to take what is offered, how it’s offered. But in the end they end up hating themselves or the people giving things to them.
When you are in a place like this where people are poor and you are doing projects and have some money in your pocket, you have to be very careful.
You are here as a guest to help people get on their feet and do it themselves. Many have been beaten down and convinced that there is no hope for them or their country. A little encouragement and helping people help themselves goes a long way. If you realty do a good job of helping people help themselves, it might escape them that you helped somewhere along the way. If you are living for the buzz of having someone bow and scrape in appreciation and thanks, you might be disappointed, if that is what you are in it for.
Every individual is made in the image of God. Some around here haven’t heard that one yet and need to be told, and that they are valuable, important and capable of doing something. So valuable, in fact, that God sent His only Son to die for them.
We Americans are the richest nation in the history of civilization with the most disposable income. As American Christians, we have the responsibility to share the Gospel with those who haven’t heard, who might hear better when they aren’t on a six mile roundtrip hike getting water. And to our materially poorer brothers and sisters in Christ, that bucket of water is a lot lighter if you get on the other side and help carry it.”
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