Thursday, June 26, 2008

Money and Social Work

Continuing the discussion of the role of money, particularly in the church, I want to make some comments about the relationship of money and social work.

We have several people in Nepal right now on a medical mission providing eye glasses and medicine to the Nepalese people. A few days ago, I had an interesting conversation with a wonderful lady in our church who was born and raised in Indonesia (and she is ethnically Indonesian). She commented that many people to whom we provide missions work don't need our help because they are happy. She used herself as an example, commenting how all the men in her country were gone to war when she was little. The women had to try to make a living to keep their families alive. They had no money. They would be the perfect candidate for a honorable church mission trip. Yet they were happy. They did not feel like they were missing anything.

I commented back to her that we (Americans) are, in fact, the ones who are in need of help and happiness because we need money to make us happy. She just smiled and nodded. Not that money is necessarily bad (or the root of all evil). But I get quite frustrated when we believe money can solves all problems. That seems to be the case in a lot of social justice work (and mission work). Throw some money at people or a cause, and the problem will be solved (at least our consciences will be clear since we helped someone).

Is that really helping others? Seriously?

One of the things I really appreciated going to Isaiah House a couple of weeks ago was what Ander said about what helped people. It isn't giving people food (the official work we do there). It is relationships. Amen! One of the reasons I don't like getting involved with a lot of social justice work is superficiality of it all. Throw money and concrete stuff at people, and you've change them, made them equals, and fixed their problems. Ha! Relationships do that, not money. I appreciate that Ander has the right perspective.

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