We're hearing phrases more and more these days. And it's time we listened. I've blogged before about how our traditional frameworks of giving are NOT (and indeed have not) working effectively. Incredible amounts of dollars being doled out by the North American elite to the poorer masses, while kind-hearted and righteously motivated (sometimes… it's amazing how many take giving for granted and await with lust the tax-deductible receipt in the mail), is killing more than it's growing.
When one consistently gives money as charity, it actually develops a system whereby poverty is sustained rather than resolved. People come to rely on the charity rather than move towards a better quality of life. Now, there are exceptions. There have been, are, and always will be people in every culture who are dealt blows that will need continual resources and help. But there is a way of supplying that help that still dignifies the person walking on a journey.
Sustainable programs are needed... the micro-loan model for example is proven thus far to create and develop community around the world. Many reputable organizations are developing similar models in order that poverty, trafficking, drugs, abuse and other societal ills are diminished and family, respect, education and understanding is grown.
There IS a place for charity.
Two days ago it suffered a devastating earthquake. As one of the poorest countries in the world, I can't imagine the fallout that will come from this. Sustainable projects need to be brainstormed NOW by Haitian nationals and people committed to the Haitian culture and way of life, however IMMEDIATE NEEDS ARE JUST THAT: IMMEDIATE.
Dollars, manpower, mosquito nets, water purification tablets… NEEDED NOW!!! The youth I work with in my community want to collect money or resources for Haiti. Will it change the course of that country's history?
But in God's economy, it sure does.
In a world that says youth are selfish and self-absorbed, I want to encourage the efforts of these young people who are devastated by what's happening in their world. Their tears are moving them to TOIL and instead of just writing a check, THEY WANT TO HELP!!!! They may never meet a Haitian person but this effort to look beyond the cell phone and iPod is noble. This effort changes THEM perhaps more than it changes the state of Haiti. But the work of Christ is like that. In giving, we are transformed.
And by being changed, these youth see how better to serve their Lord and their world. This is a first step. These are the people who see the need for better ways to give, build, reach out and love.
Aid is not a long term solution. But it has its place. And right now it's place is in the hands of a group of young people that I'm incredibly proud of.