Mission’s trips can sometimes innocently be a method of hurting rather than helping if we do them for the wrong reasons.
The book When Helping Hurts touches on humble service and focuses on the impact of faith-based organizations trying to alleviate poverty. The book dives in deep explaining the root behind those who serve — some truly want to help those in need while others show up as if they are superior. The book talks about the importance of seeing how some may lack in resources, but we are equal when it comes to our brokenness.
“Until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do far more harm than good.”
Before you head out on a mission’s trip or even just serving right where you are, read the book When Helping Hurts. It will guide you to better understand the relationship between spiritual and relational poverty and how we can encourage the materially poor instead of hurting them. The book is an important resource needed for self-examination and intentional service.
In an excerpt from the book, Mission expert Miriam Adeny relates a story told to her by an African Christian friend:
“Elephant and Mouse were best friends. One day Elephant said, ‘Mouse, let’s have a party!’ Animals gathered from far and near. They ate, drank, and sang. And they danced. Nobody celebrated more and danced harder than Elephant. After the party was over, Elephant exclaimed, ‘Mouse, did you ever go to a better party? What a blast!’ But Mouse did not answer. ‘Mouse, where are you?’ Elephant called. He looked around for his friend and then shrank back in horror. There at Elephant’s feet lay Mouse. His little body was ground into the dirt. He had been smashed by the big feet of his exuberant friend, Elephant. ‘Sometimes, that is what it’s like to do missions with you Americans,’ the African storyteller commented. ‘It is like dancing with an Elephant.’”
Don’t be an elephant!
Listen to the stories of those you are helping. See their humanity as equal to your own and serve with a humble heart. Don’t relish in your ability to lend a helping hand while others are reaching out their hands in need. We only can help others through the grace of God and the power He gives in spite of our weakness. Use His power for good and acknowledge the source of your impact.
See you in the mission field!
Sheri Postma, RN
Founder & CEO
Mission Partners for Christ
“Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives” —Isaiah 58:7
The Bible talks a lot about caring for the poor. It is a reflection of God’s heart to meet the needs of His children. So how do we as Christians take care of the poor?
Here are three ways to get you started:
1. View all of humanity as equal.
“Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all” —-Proverbs 22:2
God knew that when darkness entered the world because of humanity’s fall, there would be inequality among us. He loves His children and wanted to be sure we are taken care of, so he commanded us to view each other as equals despite our material possessions. We were all created by God and we are to use what we have been given to care for those in need — not because we are better than but because God blesses so that we can bless others. We are the hands and feet of Jesus and are to love like Him.
2. Do more than just give money.
Giving directly to people in need is helpful, but what can be more helpful is to give to trustworthy organizations who can meet the needs of the poor in the best ways because that’s what they do on a day to day basis. Often, organizations will give the poor opportunities to get them out of their situation such as schooling, training, or even assistance with job searching. This will leave a longlasting impact and is the best use of your finances.
Another way to help more than just financially is volunteering. Volunteer locally with your church’s mission outreach team or join a mission’s team that serves the poor internationally! To learn more about the importance of doing more than just giving money directly to the poor, read our blog post about when helping hurts.
3. Give them a voice.
The Lord asks us to fight against injustice. Use your voice to spread the word about the issues facing the poor and the organizations that do good for those in need! Everyone has a voice, but not all are heard. Stand alongside those who need to be heard.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression.” –Isaiah 1:17
If you feel a call to jump in and help the poor whether it’s poor financially, physically or poor in spirit, we would love to connect you with our mission and talk about ways you can help us meet needs around the world! Connect with us here.
You find yourself called to a medical missions trip, but you want to make sure you are prepared and equipped before you find yourself overwhelmed and in over your head. You may have all the medical knowledge needed, but what about spiritual knowledge? A great way to prepare before you leave on your trip is to not only prepare your heart but to prepare your mind with these eight book suggestions to read before your medical mission’s trip!
Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence by: David Livermore
Although many are involved in short-term missions experiences all around the world, there’s always improvements to be made to the approach and practice of missions trips. Many times we want to bring our culture to other places in the world instead of bringing Christ and adapting to the culture that’s already there. This book will help the reader to serve with cultural sensitivity and intelligence.
Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility by: Duane Elmer
When the author went around the world asking what people thought about missionaries, the response showed him that Christian missionaries came across less than humble. In fact, they came across arrogant. Obviously, this approach was hurting their impact. Actions that were meant to be loving instead came across as pretentious and superior. In his book, Elmer gives advice about how to serve with humility and avoid misunderstanding other cultures. To serve effectively around the globe, read this book before your next mission’s trip.
Multicultural Manners: Essential Rules of Etiquette for the 21st Century by: Norine Dresser
When traveling overseas, you will quickly learn that it’s not easy to understand the etiquette of a new cultural. This book will help address appropriate interactions around the world when it comes to greeting one another, hand signals that mean different things globally, and how to avoid embarrassment with each new interaction. This book is informative and will give you the courage you need to approach a culturally different community respectfully.
When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself. by: Steve Corbett, Brian Fikker
Donations and handouts are typically our response to poverty. It helps us feel as if we are making an impact without having to get our hands dirty. But what if our handouts and donations were fueling the problem? Poverty is complex and deserves consideration to truly alleviate the problem. Those in poverty need empowerment and ways to sustain themselves rather than relying on those around them. Sustainable change must happen from the inside out. This book will give you a new perspective on how to help alleviate poverty in ways that are long lasting!
Medical Missions: Get Ready, Get Set, Go! by: Bruce Steffes
This book recognizes that medical missions are different than other short-term mission trips. Practicing medicine in areas with very little supplies in conditions that are less than ideal is difficult. This book will help those involved in medical missions trips know what to expect and receive tips on how to be more effective! Read the stories about the author’s personal experiences and feel more prepared with his advice and insights. This is a must-read book that can also be slipped into your pocket to take with you for encouragement on the field!
Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions by: John Piper
This book gives readers a biblical basis for missions, why it’s important for the expansion of the Gospel, and the importance to reach all nations! Preparing for a medical missions trip requires the understanding of the spiritual mission as well. Read this book to be ready for the spiritual work!
Preach and Heal: A Biblical Model for Missions by: Charles Fielding
This book teaches why it’s important to both preach and heal. If you don’t meet the physical needs of a person, how can you expect he/she to accept the spiritual need? It’s important not to walk away from healing while leaving a person spiritually dry. Ministry must be balanced to be effective.
Preparing yourself for your medical missions trip is essential. Choose a few books from this list, and watch yourself benefit from the knowledge and preparation before your big adventure!
See you in the mission field!
Sheri Postma, RN
Founder & CEO
Mission Partners for Christ
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