Given that I have not posted anything to this blog for two years, there probably are not a lot of people out there waiting to read this. If you don’t know about Empower International Ministries, which I am talking about here, please take a look at the website at www.EmpowerInternational.org.
I just read a very good book, “When helping hurts: How to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor and yourself,” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, which talks about how Americans pouring money into developing countries can actually dis-empower the people and ministries there. Corbett and Fikkert write that the “materially non-poor” suffer from “god-complexes”, while the “materially poor” feel inferior. Both categories believe that the non-poor are somehow superior the the poor by virtue of not lacking in material things. (I will summarize more of this book in a later post).
As director of EIM, I struggle with these attitudes. Part of the sense of inferiority among the “materially poor” is a belief that someone else has to rescue them from their plight, that they are incapable of doing anything themselves. For instance, during our 2009 trip, one of our partners in Burundi said that he was praying for God to give EIM a lot of money so that we could give it to him to fund his implementation of our material in Burundi. While I appreciate the enormous problems of material provision in Burundi, which is one of the poorest countries on the planet, I think the belief that God will only provide through other human beings — in this case, human beings from another the continent — suggests a tragic lack of faith in their own and God’s efficacy. If God can provide for EIM, he is perfectly capable of providing for Burundi directly. Part of this provision will not be money. Part of it will be ideas on how to promote the biblical understanding of marriage and family without it costing anything. But it is difficult to persuade our national ministry partners of this when many of them have been conditioned to believe that the lack of goodness in their lives is due to lack of money, and that money can only be provided by someone else.
The apostle Paul did not have a budget to promote the Gospel. This ministry cannot grow if it is limited to what we can raise money to promote.