We have not seen sunset any days this week because the sun drops before we get back from work, but several friends asked about sunset photos. So Lynn, Page, and all you romantics out there...this is for you from last weekend. Have a nice night.
At Wally Ho's Garage & Grill you can get a swell lunch plate and get an oil change at the same time. Now that, my friends, is Full Service. I'd say it's a pretty sweet setup. As our girls discoved today, a Wally Ho's meal is not a bad option on some of our work days.
My friend, Keith Ham, recently recommended a book called Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton. When it comes to charity Keith knows his stuff. He and Kathy have been in Kenya since 1991 serving as missionaries with CMF, International. They have raised a family in Kenya and they are two of the coolest people that I know. Keith is an upbeat guy who loves Jesus and teaches the bible. If he recommends a book that raises questions about how we do charity it must be good.
So wow, what a book. I read it in two days while traveling last week. Lupton's book is sobering, humbling, and ultimately encouraging.
More than once I found myself wincing as missions and outreach activities were described that were exactly like things I have been part of, sometimes coordinated, that could have been done in a much more holistic way. Lupton has spent more than forty years in inner-city Atlanta developing models of urban renewal and he supports his criticisms with information and good solutions.
At the crux, he points out that for communities to be successful there must be ownership to do for themselves what they are capable of doing - from picking up trash, to building, to leading the community. This holds true in our local towns as well as anywhere around the world. Working with communities to equip for ownership can take a lot more time and effort than simply going in and contributing or doing the work ourselves.
The book points out that many people, especially Christians, are kind and compassionate. We love to give and help. We embrace that feeling. We cherish telling the stories. The caution is one-way giving is often more beneficial to the giver that those they aim to assist.
On a personal scale we all dig going on missions trips and completing work projects. Valid questions are could the local population complete the same project on their own? What if the funds spent on the trip were used to pay local workers? Who is taking care of the project after the team leaves? Is it actually blessing people or putting a burden on them? Lupton mentions the value of exposing missions teams to other parts of the world, but also indicates the benefit may not be as big as we believe. Personally, I believe we should continue to send teams and expose people to missions, but we can rethink the work to maximize the long term benefit to local communities.
On a large scale he points out how over a trillion in foreign aid has been given to Africa in recent years only to lead to corruption and a decline in productivity. In the USA, the welfare system basically has the same problem. What we do as churches and individuals with one-way giving is the same thing on a smaller scale.
On the topic of one-way giving, this progression helped me better understand the central issue:
-Give once you elicit appreciation
-Give twice and you create anticipation
-Give three times and you create expectation
-Give four times and it becomes entitlement
-Give five times and you establish dependency
The idea is to not stop giving, but to stop one-way giving except in times of crisis. This is done to stop subsidizing poverty and start reinforcing productive work. Solutions like micro-loans, low-cost food coops, and community run resale clothing shops are outlined. These things take more effort and much more time to establish than one-way giving, but the benefits generate community pride instead of stripping pride.
All in all, this book made me rethink the approach to charity and missions. It is not a call to do less. It is a call to do better. And isn't that what we want?
Do you ever see or hear something and it makes you think about someone you know? For instance, when I hear "Play that funky music, white boy" I think of my brother, Brian. And if I see a fake moustache I think of my friend, Dyke Dean. He does not have a stache, but I still think of him.
That Dyke, he's a fun guy. I could see him rocking a "Magnum"or "Neighborino" fingerstache. Me? I'd go for "The Swashbuckler". After all, I am a pirate.
Hello. I'm back. Maybe. After pushing out blog posts 4 or 5 or sometimes 6 times a week I took a little time off. A blog sabbatical so to speak. For me, you might even call it a blog fast.
Since Labor Day my travel schedule was aggressive. Last week I was off again right after the new year started to work a trade show in Las Vegas. I traveled light and left my PC at home. I just took enough technology to stay on top of work e-mail. It was a great week for reading in the evenings and reflection on the year that has just ended.
It was an eventful year and an extraordinary Christmas season. I love the way our faith can grow and stretch and change when we attempt to follow Christ. It is like we never reach "all". There is more.
Lately I have seen different communities of Christ-followers, both large and small in size, doing exceptional things to build the kingdom. I have seen people from multiple cultures celebrate and love each other because of the common bond of knowing Jesus. I have seen worship that is deep, meaningful, and authentic. And I have enjoyed long conversations about life and faith and what it means to be called a "Christ-follower".
If you can not tell, I remain up on life. I am excited about what is next. I hope we keep bumping into each other along the road. That would be pretty cool.