Friday, June 15, 2012

More Harm Than Good?

This week, my team took part in CHE training (Community Health Evangelism). CHE is a program that trains missionaries to not create dependency in the community they are working in, but instead boost development, which is sustainable even when the missionaries leave. It is apparently a very effective and well known training program in the mission community, and I am fortunate to be able to take it here in Bosnia. The first few days of training were pretty straight forward, and seemingly elementary, but I stuck with it with a good attitude and I actually gained reality that the work I had done in the past may have been harmful. Everyone likes to think that they go on short term trips and save the world. They think that by giving out food and hygiene bags, they are helping the people in need. Actually, it's basically only helping yourself, and hurting the people you are trying to help. Short term aid creates dependency. By continually entering into someones community and handing out resources, you causing the locals mindset to change and not in a good way. Their mindset changes to one that makes them wait for the materials to be given to them instead of them going out to find ways to get the resources themselves.

This made me think. What are the projects I have taken part of before and how have they hurt the communities I've worked in? Then it hit me... many of the projects I've been a part has been humanitarian aid. So, does this mean that I am so monster that destroys the people I go to serve? I don't think so. But, if I had the knowledge that I do now and continued to create dependency, then I would become a monster. All the things my teams in the past have set out to do were great things... they were just not carried out in an effective manner.

I know that God gives me grace and that He can fill in the cracks that I left in the people that I have worked with so far in my life. I am very thankful that I was able to go through this training in order to see where I have short-comings in my work and how I can fix them in the future. God desires for us to take care of the poor, weak, and vulnerable but there are many ways to love them without causing them to depend on us for all of their needs. I look forward to applying the CHE training to my future mission work.

Other than that, everything is well in Bosnia and I am loving my time here. Please pray for opportunities to fellowship with the Muslims here and pray that our time will feel 100% healthy very soon! I love you all and I am looking forward to "celebrating" my birthday tomorrow!  


  1. What about relief from a disaster? Like the Haiti Earthquake? When do you stop providing supplies and start encouraging the community to grow when a disaster strikes?

  2. Mike, I agree about disaster relief. Aid is essential to lift them out of the rubble. But the way that it is issued needs to be adjusted. If we provide education as we administer aid, it will give the nationals the tools and knowledge they need to keep it up after international organizations pull out. But the way that they do it now is to pump money and supplies into the country and leave them clueless after they pull out and the money runs out. Education is key.