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3rd world development work GOD Intl

Paradigm Shift

The Current Paradigm Of Short-Term, Project Oriented, Service Trips To The 3rd World Come To An End With Global Outreach Developments Int'l. 

Published: August, 2014

Early on Missionaries were called Explorers. "Heroes" like David Livingstone went among the "heathen" and converted them through what has widely become known as colonialism. No thanks. See below for another way of "doing missions."

3rd World Development

Short Term Missions:
Is It Effective For Long Term Change?

Answering this question reveals a person’s motive for going. Perhaps a more accurate question is, “are you going on this trip for you, or for the people you are serving?” It’s a sincere question that should be answered upfront. Unfortunately, few people are asking it.

In my experience of about 20 years, having led over 250 mission efforts in both hemispheres, north and south of the equator, short-term efforts have short-term effects on the person who goes and on the people who receive.

I can confidently say that short-term mission trips are more about the person going than the people they will serve.

On the one hand, the short term effects on the participant can be encouraging. For a time they seem a little less selfish, a little more grateful, a little kinder, and a little more aware. Even for the recipient of the service, they have a new roof to last a few years, or gauze on their wound, or antibiotics for their infection. They may even have a renewed sense of value because they were visited in their distress.

On the other hand, these benefits are short term in their effect. The participant again struggles with selfishness, and gets amnesia of those moments that caused them to be grateful, kind, and aware. The roof will leak. A new wound, new infection, and distress will re-emerge.

Many will be okay with this outcome. Taking a “realist” approach, they will be able to live with these results. They will dismiss the negative with wrongly interpreted Scriptures like “Jesus said the poor you’ll always have with you.” Compassion is redefined in terms of having suffered a temporary loss of comfort, rather than “suffering with” (the literal definition) those in need. Jesus said such people are professionals at justifying themselves.

There’s a booming industry in our country built around this rite of passage, and plenty of organizations are more than happy to facilitate short term experiences and embellish the results. We are an organization that facilitates short-term trips, but don’t confuse us for the aforementioned agency.

As I said above, I’ve facilitated hundreds of short-term teams, and efforts, but let me mark the distinction: we are making people ask the questions 1) are such efforts to primarily benefit themselves, or the recipients? and 2) are you comfortable with the effects of short-term efforts on the people you serve?

These aren’t just preferential questions, they are moral ones.

I tell participants on our short-term trips from the onset: “This trip is primarily about you. You will make a short-term impact on those you serve, and you'll be temporarily impacted as well.”

Some years ago I wrote a song about this frustration. While doing laundry I discovered the clay soil of Africa was embedded into my sock and the stain had outlasted the impact the trip had on my heart.

While facilitating short-term trips, I also challenge participants to consider whether or not they are comfortable with the short-term impact of their work, and whether or not such a trip could actually be classified as doing something enduring for Christ.

1 Cor. 3:13b ...the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

The above verse challenges us to recognize that the work we do is tested in terms of endurance. Can our work product withstand the fires of time, chance, circumstance, and inevitability?

Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Rom. 5:3-5 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

The above verses make us aware that we both do good things, and become a good product ourselves. Note how the person who produces the character described in Romans is a person who lives amidst the suffering, has learned to navigate it (evidenced through their endurance), and has the capacity to produce hope amidst the challenges.

In order to see long-term change in both the participant and recipient, it’s going to take a long-term commitment. The labor and laborer that survives the fiery challenges of the 3rd world are those that have been prepared for the work, have been built up to endure the suffering of the hostile environment, and have the wisdom and vision to see a better world amidst the challenges; to hope a better world into existence.

For any adult, 18 and over (we take a slightly different approach with youth), after a short-term mission trip with us, they will be confronted with this challenge. They will be challenged to discern a calling. They will be challenged with the life and message of Jesus. “For the son of man came NOT to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

“Blessed is he who is not offended at me.” (Mark 10:45; Matt 11:6).

Written by Gregg D. Garner

August 13, 2014

Short term missions GOD Intl

Doing Missions is Good

But You Need "Something To Fall Back On."

“Missions is Good, but You Need Something to Fall Back On.”

The advice is simple enough: Before getting into missions, you should first secure your future with a prestigious degree, a well-paying job, and a little extra green besides. After all, so the advice goes, how can you help others if you can’t help yourself? And what will happen if you retire or quit or the whole thing goes south? Don’t you want something to fall back on?

Although the wisdom sounds reasonable enough, it implies some serious misunderstandings about missions. The first one is that missions is bound to fail as a lifelong vocation--It’s a passing season, an evanescent bubble of youthful energies, a fashion. Isn’t this really what the advice is trying to say, that missions will fail the person in the long run? Isn’t that the idea behind the “fall-back-on” language? That missions is some kind of precarious upward climb and you can’t hold on forever? (The Psalms have a lot to say about slipping and falling and God not letting that happen, but we’ll leave that aside for now.)

The second misunderstanding is that missions is something that you can, after devoting all your energies to another field of study, just jump into. It’s that easy. Spend 4-6 years learning something else, and, then, just do missions. There is a preconception here that missions is not a serious, viable, or lifelong pursuit—one that requires a dedicated apprenticeship like any really serious field.

These two misunderstandings can be boiled down into an overarching one: missions doesn’t require faith—i.e., that the project of missions doesn’t require or deserve the devoted, undivided pursuit of a group of people that take their calling with seriousness, dedication, and endurance because, ultimately, the whole thing is connected to what God wants and is therefore not subject to failure. “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of the LORD stands forever” (Is. 40:8).

But how can missions be a viable, life-long pursuit? We have started by treating missions as such. If you plan for failure, dissipated energies, and eventual disbandment, you will create an infrastructure that will foster these eventualities. Many organizations capitalize on the few open periods in a young person’s life—usually the year before or the year after college. They plan only to occupy a year’s time (usually an “extreme” year, but, nevertheless, a year). But we ask for more. Why? Because we believe that, done correctly, missions does require serious devotion and long-term training and preparation. We are planning for the long run, and we have created an infrastructure that ensures this longevity, making missions less of an impossible upward climb and more of a steady race to the finish.

Jesus calls us to plan for long-term security. His plan is to build a foundation on his teachings. His advice is not to find security in a back-up plan. Jobs, degrees, and savings are all subject to the winds and cross-winds that Jesus says all structures are beset with. Because of this, we have heeded the words of Jesus and are planning for the storms that will come, and we are planning to stand strong against them, by investing into a time of hearing his teachings, and doing his word. You can’t build a foundation on God’s Word by pouring your energies into everything other than the study and practice of God’s Word.

Matthew 7:24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

Written by Benjamin Reese

August 12, 2014

Missions work GOD Intl

I Want To Be A Missionary;
Intercultural Studies, Or Int'l Business?

In recent years, philanthropic focuses and international majors have risen in popularity among colleges, coinciding with the nonprofit sector in the U.S. growing in size and financial impact. (Source: The Urban Institute). There are plenty of people trying to do good things for the poor, and seeking higher education degrees to prepare them. On average, private colleges charge individuals seeking such degrees $30,000 in tuition a year. (Source: CollegeBoard)

The question remains, how does it pan out? Students with this pursuit will have a hard time putting their education into practice as missionaries because of the need for an inflated salary to pay off school debt. This is especially the case for those seeking specialties in the medical field.

In our experience, many students who obtain such degrees are dissatisfied. At the Institute for G.O.D. Int’l, over 40% of students have already obtained a degree, with majors ranging from economics to international business, international justice to missions and the bible. Many of these students are working overtime to pay off debt owed to previous institutions, and sadly, will have to keep working extra hours for up to 15 years to come. They testify to the more effective approach of our program, as it is not only grounded in developmental and cross-cultural approaches, but filtered by the Word of God and tested by experience.

When Jesus comes down from the mountain to find his disciples unable to rid a demon from a young boy (think, a mental health issue that seemed incurable), he is exasperated by them. “You faithless generation, how much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” The issue he had was not with what techniques or disciplines they were employing, but their lack of faith. He expected his disciples to effectively bring healing to the sick.

When they ask Jesus why they were unable to perform the task, he says “this kind can only come out through prayer” (Mk. 9:29). He didn’t tell them they needed better textbooks, or that it was time to get a masters in psychology.  Of course, we shouldn’t shrug off all forms of higher education in pursuit of all-day prayer sessions, but what is being taught here is that there are issues in the developing world so complicated, and so seemingly incurable, that you’ll need more than the tools allotted to you in a learned skill set. You will need to be equipped to possess the spiritual stamina and discipline to know what to do when all of the methods taught to you fail. And you will have to implement that spirituality into an effective remedy.

Jesus restores the boy. Connected to the life that comes from God, he was equipped to bring restoration, justice, peace, and freedom to those who needed it. It’s in this context that we are educating our development agents. They are taught how to bring about the kind of social transformation that restores individuals, who can then be reconciled with his (or her) family, community, and even God.

Current paradigms will give you a respected paper to hang on your wall, but also a bill large enough to fill you with anxiety at your desk. Or, if Mom and Dad are paying for it, the question becomes whether or not that money was well spent. If you find out afterward that it wasn’t, anxiety can take place in reverse.

Obtaining such degrees won’t connect you to the spirit of an alive God who wants to transform societies on a sustainable level. Their approaches come from the top--the ivory towers, the capital cities, the multi-national corporations. Jesus’ approach came from the bottom--the village of Nazareth, from where people thought nothing good could come. We believe that the bible is the most important tool for understanding human beings and what they need to thrive. To be a missionary, you have to be connected to the mission, and that mission cannot be found outside of an in-depth understanding of God’s Word, and not a secondary discipline. “You shall have no other gods before you.” 

Written by Laurie Germeraad Kagay

August 11, 2014

Missions work at GOD Intl

People Are Dying, 
Just Get Out There And Do Something!

My first visit to a slum was in Tacloban City, Philippines in 2006.  Children were playing in a ditch with raw sewage, unaware of the grave danger their environment was posing to them.  I was compelled to do something about the inevitable suffering—anything I could to stop it! I remember feeling like if I didn't stay and do something, people would die.

Unfortunately, too many people act on these emotions prematurely and fail to critically examine what effect they can have on the millions of people tangled in the complex web of poverty.  With the help of the Lord and teachers I came to the realization that if I would have stayed in that slum I would have become more of a liability to the people than a benefit.  If ending poverty was as easy as people like Jeffrey Sachs and Bono make it out to be, then it would have already have found its 'End.'

In fact, many missionaries would have to admit their initial excursions to 3rd world countries were more beneficial for themselves than anybody in need. As 3rd world development workers we cannot do away with the education necessary to bring about sustainable solutions to the suffering.

It’s a mistake to assume that any young person filled with hope and boundless energy will have what it takes to run the race, as Paul the Apostle puts it, until the end. If mission work is about empowering the poor to rise up out of their disadvantaged circumstances, then we must see education as a vital component of this process. Before being able to do anything, first, one must undergo a transformation unto the image of Christ, who poured out his life as a drink offering for others. There is no substitute, no shortcut, to bypass the time necessary to be properly equipped; particularly in this area of character.

Without a proper time of preparation, where a young person can develop an effective plan, and increase their awareness of these difficult issues, they would likely become a contributor to the complex factors producing poverty. Hastily conceived and implemented solutions may have the appearance of an answer, but high turnaround rates of missionaries, and all the broken wells, empty orphanage buildings, and over-crowded classrooms testify to a problem.

I have now spent eight years in full-time education and training. I am a licensed plumber, a college instructor, a husband and father. Most importantly, God has been developing me into a healthy human being who can be a gift to poor communities like the one in Tacloban City, Philippines. I have since returned on multiple occasions and been able to effectively assist people by providing appropriate solutions to the situations they face.

God calls us to give ourselves as living sacrifices, taking up our cross daily to follow him. If we want to see a change in the cycles of poverty and suffering in the world then we need to invest our time, energy and resources into developing a well thought out and long-term approach to the multi-faceted problems facing the impoverished. By settling for an individualistic and short-term approach, we are robbing the poor of the empowerment they so desperately need.

So, if you are compelled to do something about the suffering you have encountered, be compelled to commit yourself to a life of surrender to the cause, following Jesus who can do more than we could have imagined possible.

By Jason Carpenter

August 15, 2014

Missions work India GOD Intl

I'm More Into Awareness...
Let's Make A Documentary.

Is making someone aware of the issue the same as doing something to resolve the issue? Social media, film, awareness campaigns can get a lot of attention, but do they work?

I remember watching the “Invisible Children” documentary for the first time. It was entertaining, compelling, and challenging. It made the audience consider a world beyond their own, and gave them some heroes, to boot. A few young guys with video cameras were on an adventure of a lifetime. They were about to change the lives of a group of kids ravaged by poverty and war. They just needed a little help from those who would watch the film. What an amazing cause! Everyone was going to be aware.

That same year I was in Uganda and had multiple conversations on the topic with everyone from locals, to government officials, to soldiers from the Ugandan Army. They all shared a similar opinion and told me much of the documentary was sensationalized; though the suffering depicted in the film was concerning real children, the issue wasn’t too different from that which many of the kids in their country experience. They also noted that the documentary was just a more popular version of many other media campaigns that were made to raise money for some organization to implement their perceived solutions.

I felt embarrassed when one of the “big ideas” by the Invisible Children crew was to build a basketball gym for the children who a) were homeless, b) severely traumatized, and c) without education. Sure enough the Invisible Children boys were launched into non-profit stardom and received millions of dollars to implement their “big ideas.”

It’s unfortunate that few will see the absurdity of a few post-pubescent boys, who know nothing about development work, raising enough money to secure their careers as development workers for the next decade, while a legitimate doctor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo faces the challenging decision to sell another personal item to pay for supplies to perform a life-saving treatment on a child in need.

I’m sure that media has a positive role in development work, but it’s important that audiences and donors learn to identify when that medium is being abused by people who are publishing suffering as a form of art, and doing very little to see the needs get met, all the way to completion--a necessary long term-effort.

As one who works in the arts, who is even an eye behind a camera, I’m very aware of the tension between maintaining the dignity of suffering people, and compelling those who would view the photo/video and be moved to assist in the cause.

There was a period of about 3 years where I put my camera away. I actually sold it and used the money to help a family buy some land for planting banana trees. This is the chorus of a song I wrote to capture how I felt about it:

“I don’t want to make art of your pain. I don’t want to make beautiful, your suffering. I don’t want to capture, this horror in a frame. Today, I put my camera away.”

I’ve since started taking pictures again, but have developed a theology, and in turn a moral position concerning the task. I’ve determined it’s completely irresponsible for anyone to get footage of people who are suffering and make it available to the public for the sake of supporting themselves. Sometimes this is disguised in the form of “telling their story.” Coffee tables all over the country are hosts to this kind of product.

Here’s a basic rule we have implemented in our organization: if we’re going to make people aware of an issue and use media to do so, we have to be a part of the solution to finally alleviate the suffering captured on film. The awareness we bring to others must include an awareness of what we’re doing to bring relief.

Not everyone will agree with our approach, but personally, I can’t live with the reality that the lenses in my camera bag are worth more than the house I’m visiting, more than the income the occupant will make in their lifetime.

I could prescribe some kind of balancing test for art and ethical service, but everyone will have a different threshold for what their conscience can handle. Creating awareness is very important. Doing so responsibly is more important.

Maintaining the dignity of those whom you serve is paramount to ethical service. It may compromise your art, make you less money, and prevent you from a flash of fame. But it also may catch the attention of those few who are not influenced by sensationalism, the few who are not swayed by the trends, nor are in it for the adventure. It may catch the attention of those who want to genuinely make a difference amongst the poor and suffering. Art can’t do what just one person of that caliber can.

Written by Gregg D. Garner

August 13, 2014

Documentary filming GOD Intl

I Want To Start A Ministry For Orphans:
Not An Orphanage. Like A Home... For Orphans.

Is the “children’s home” really any different from the orphanage?  Are such group venues really the only solution for kids without parents.

Naming is powerful.  The ability to name things is a gift from God that can order and enrich our reality.  The terms “orphanage” and “children’s home” carry different connotations and thus many organizations chose one term or the other to communicate their specific values and approach.  However, though the terms may differ, can we really say that the two approaches are any different?  Examining the two terms honestly,  we would probably agree that the two names both signify the same approach to orphan care, an approach that has been typical for a long time -- to house several children (sometimes hundreds) in a facility where a loving and hopeful staff attempts to care for all their needs.  

Often this simplistic approach is in response to a perceived orphan crisis in a certain regions of the world. But much research has been done over the last couple of decades that would challenge the notion of an “orphan crisis.”  It’s relatively common knowledge that many of the orphanages in developing countries aren’t actually housing orphans at all, but rather children from impoverished families.  The overwhelming majority of “orphanages” today are filled with children who have at least one living parent, not to mention nearby relatives.  Even a quick google search will yield plenty of results showing the exploitation of such children and families in an attempt to embellish numbers and elicit financial funding for different “orphan care” organizations.  Surely this is one of the reasons for the nominal distinctions between “orphanages” and “children’s homes”.  Perhaps “children’s homes” are presenting themselves more honestly to supporters and watchdog groups by not claiming to care for orphans.

It’s no surprise that as awareness of these realities keep trending, so does the rise in “children’s homes” as opposed to “orphanages.”    But a distinction in name alone doesn’t give way to a new approach for caring for children in need.  In fact, there is no singular way to address all the needs of vulnerable children, whether they are from struggling families or truly orphans.  In light of this, the difficult question becomes this: How do we address the vast needs of children whose parents may not be capable of caring for them?  Are we really bound to the orphanage paradigm or are there other ways to conceptualize caring for needy children?  

It’s interesting that Jesus didn't perform miracles that ended such broad issues such as kids not having parents.  We don’t read in the scriptures, "and immediately all the children were taken care of and there were no more orphans!"  So what makes us think we can be so simplistic and broad in our approach?  Besides, we would have to possess the power over death to keep children from becoming orphans. In reality these crises are unending and cannot be addressed with overbroad approaches.  Therefore, the social services that we offer to children cannot be focused on quick, widespread fixes to perennial problems.  Long-term solutions require life-long service and duplicability that consistently addresses the day-to-day needs among vulnerable children and families.  Although we could potentially end poverty on local levels, demographics such as widows and orphans are continual in their need for ministry.  

We believe that one of the most basic needs for any person is to be incorporated into a family.  When children go without family, whether in an orphanage or children’s home, there is a loss of familial identity and feeling of abandonment and isolation. This is why we believe that children should be cared for by families rather than institutions. It’s heart breaking that a parent would be offered a ‘better life’ only if he/she would surrender their child(ren) to an orphanage or children’s home. Instead of funding an orphanage, why couldn’t resources be extended to help parents care for their own children?  

Resources are the issue. Who would monitor and see that the family is being cared for?  It’s quite easy to raise financial resources for an orphanage, but no amount of money can create a stronger family.  This only comes through education and empowerment.  Therefore, the human resource is the most valuable component to invest into social services, but, unfortunately, it’s also the most difficult to come by.  “Who will go for us?  Who shall we send?” was the Lord’s question to Isaiah long ago.  Jesus called for laborers to enter the field, and yet the fields of need still remain today, ready to be gathered.  There are so many ways a family can be helped and supported by people who possess the power of God and the knowledge of His word.  How many “orphans” could be returned home if someone were there to help them and their families order their chaotic environment and thrive?  The Bible shows us that God consistently chooses family over institutions in his care for people’s well-being.  Why then should our approach reflect the opposite?  

Despite the fact that most children in need have families, we cannot escape the reality that there are many who don’t.  We certainly have to take special care and consideration for these most vulnerable children in our midst.  Again, the most basic need for any child is to be incorporated into a family.  Therefore, adoption must be a component for caring for these orphaned children, prioritized by their vulnerability.  And while a type of children’s home may be necessary, the transitional state of the children should be emphasized.  Their “transitional homes” would not be a final resting place, but instead be a safe place where the children could live prior to being incorporated/adopted into a family.  In efforts to customize the care for each child in transition, we must use that power of terminology to create categories of care-giving.  For example, the needs of an infant differs from that of a sixteen-year-old.  Why should they be subject to the same approach?  The infant needs to be nursed and closely cared for during transition while the sixteen-year-old needs to be taught skills necessary for the transition into adulthood.  In either case, the transition should be emphasized.

Because the issues surrounding this sphere of ministry are complex, any philosophy presented in a simple article isn’t capable (in itself) of having any sustainable impact.  We cannot simply raise awareness.  God demonstrates to us that awareness is simply not enough.  He not only heard the cries of the Israelites (awareness), but came down to rescue them (enacting).  Our approach to caring for vulnerable children must continually be subjected to the Word that inspires and empowers us.  God has been caring for children and families for a long time and we still have much to learn.  We believe that if we trust and gain our understanding from Him, He will direct our path in helping children and families all around the world.

Written by Britt Edwards

August 12, 2014

Care for the orphans GOD Intl

"Sex Tourism & Human Trafficking Are Terrible: I'd Like To See It And Move Those Girls Out Of There..."

Is it possible we're creating an acceptable industry out of an illicit industry? Perhaps one of the darkest problems in our world shouldn't get so much attention from young kids without any expertise in the matter.

Everyone seems to be called to end human trafficking lately.

I’m sure it’s legitimate for some, for others it’s likely the influential power of media that has piqued their interest. Lots of money goes towards awareness campaigns and organizations who have made this their focus. Whatever the impetus for people’s interest, it is going to take the power of God for any person to survive the darkness of the world of human trafficking, specifically the sex slave industry.

Often, it’s young ladies with negative experiences of abuse who show great sensitivity to the issue. Or young boys with hero complexes. Though they are very sincere in their desire to help victims of sex trafficking, compassion, or passion alone, isn’t enough. These victims, women, and even young girls, have suffered perhaps the most egregious of activity, outside of outright having your child killed, that any human could know.

Affluence has an intoxicating effect in many ways. One of the most prevalent is when a person of power begins to think that fulfilling their personal destiny as someone who helps is more important than offering skilled, quality help. It’s easy to make this mistake when you don’t speak the language of the people you’re helping; when you don’t understand their culture; and when you aren’t around long enough to see whether your act of salvation was effective enough to legitimately bring health over time.

Affluence has a way of making us believe we’re automatically successful by just trying. Our confidence is bolstered by purchasing pieces of paper that come with a few letters to predict our inevitable success. It is also, of course, a step down to help these poor people, considering we could otherwise become the President or someone else important. So we’re doing these pitiful souls a favor by just being there. They need our help.

Big... Huge... Sigh…

A sincere theological education is imperative to enter into this kind of work. Legal education won’t be enough. Neither will the disciplines of the behavioral sciences, including psychology. These ladies, who are of inestimable worth having been created in the image of God, are far better than the haughty consideration given to them by the powerful, saviors included. These women are not issues to be resolved, they are daughters, sisters, mothers, people… who need love, including the patience necessary to see their complete rehabilitation.

Jesus was known for being associated with these victims. This association was actually damaging to his reputation and led to scrutiny concerning his character and ministry. The first thing he teaches us about working with women subject to this injustice is to refrain from condemning them.

John 8:10b “...And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

The next thing he teaches us, from this same statement, is that his expectation for these women is to be freed from the captivity that forces them to be subject to sin.

It’s easy to agree with what Jesus is saying, but the challenge is in the implementation of the reality he envisions. It’s the job of the implementers to creatively consider how Jesus’ expectation for such freedom can become a reality for all women victimized by such sin.

The task then, is to not only rescue these women from a slow death (which is amazing in and of itself), but to also provide for them a way for societal integration that changes their identity from sinner to wife, mother, friend, teacher, tailor, or midwife. This takes serious skill, but more so, it takes Spirit.

Few people have the faith to see a woman through, from deliverance to reintegration. It’s not a glorious task. It’s much easier and more exciting to create a website, make a documentary, raise money, bring the girls to a home, have them make bracelets, sell the bracelets, and keep them out of the bars for a period of time until they get bored with the remedial work, and decide to return to easier money.

Such oversimplified solutions have created a legal industry out of an illicit one. Now lots of people want to see the sex slaves, and move them out of the bar, and take them home. It’s just that it’s not for sex, but to feel better about doing something.

There I was, sitting next to the bar owner as he put one hand down with a drink in it, and raised the other to his mouth with a cigarette in it. He didn’t know I was connected to a group that was in the bar that night. They were there preoccupying the time of the bar girls, buying them juices (for inflated prices) and having conversations, preventing them from being bought up for that night. I asked him, “Hey, why aren’t there any girls available tonight?”

He grinned, “Oh these saviors are saving them tonight. Don’t worry, they’ll go home soon.”

“Aren’t you worried they’re going to take these girls out of here?” I said.

“Nah. They take one, I bring two. Then, when they’re done with her, she comes back. She costs less then too. They’re doing me a favor.” He continued to puff and bumped his vodka to the orange juice glass of one of the young men who had come in to help the girls.

It was a dark moment.

If you think this article is going to bring any resolve to this issue, you need to start this read again from the beginning. Unless you’re prepared to walk into hell, and are strong enough to survive its grip, then you shouldn’t get involved.

Sometimes people ask me how I can get away with talking like this. I never know how to answer them. Let’s just say I’ve been holding my Mom’s hand, trying to walk her out of hell, for over 30 years now.

Written by Gregg D. Garner

August 12, 2014

Addressing human trafficking issues GOD Intl

Feeding People Is Good And All,
But Saving Souls, That's What Jesus Did!

A major mistake in “missions work” is to think that Jesus’ mission was a “spiritual” mission, and have a misunderstanding of genuine spirituality. 

This is a mistake because it’s insane for someone to think that problematic physical circumstances shouldn’t have an impact on a human soul. In other words, to tell someone Jesus loves them and is willing to do anything for them, and then have them return home to their hungry kids would cause them to, at the very least, be confused by the experience. Only if they enter into some kind of religious intoxication will they be able to synthesize the paradox. Religion is a good anesthetic in such situations, but should a genuine experience with God be a mere analgesic?

For an affluent person who has every physical need met, it’s quite insulting for someone to tell them that meeting physical needs is a spiritual task. To that person, spirituality is something beyond the tangible. Because they have no struggle with physical needs, they want to venture into immaterial possibilities, and they think God lives in those pursuits. This is where people confuse Jesus’ prayer that says the will of God, and his Kingdom to come, must find it’s way “on earth,” as it is in heaven. Emphasis on, “on earth.”

1 John 3:16 - 18 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 

It would be difficult to dismiss these biblical verses for a lesser spirituality. Without getting into a deep reading, any person can see that the text is taking the position that God’s love culminates in a tangible deed of care that meets physical needs.

Let’s break it down.

Vs. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

This verse teaches us that we have come to know God’s love because of the sacrificial act of his Son. Then we see that Jesus’ act to bring life to others was an exemplary act that we too, must perform for others.

Vs. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

This verse reveals that a person who has tangible goods and fails to share those resources with people in need cannot think that they have the sacrificial love of God in them. A person of wealth who does not get involved in sharing, or “resource distribution,” specifically to the needy, cannot be practicing a genuine spirituality.

I’ve heard people describe their parents, friends, or grown children as generous because, “they are very giving to me and my siblings,” or “he’s always helping his friends, like he bought those Adele tickets for so and so,” or “he’s just so generous to my mom, you should’ve seen the necklace he bought her for their anniversary.”

This is not the kind of generosity being described in the above verses. First, note the recipients are those who have “need.” I think we can say Adele tickets, or a necklace for an anniversary, exists outside the scope of “need.”

Also, this generosity is supposed to be sacrificial, as modeled in the sacrificial love of Jesus. That means that it can’t be aimed at your own children - how is that sacrificial? Isn’t taking care of your own children what a parent is supposed to do? Now, meeting the needs of someone else’s children, that’s sacrificial. 

Vs. 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

This verse compels us, as the children of God whom the love of God should be in, to ensure our love is tangibly demonstrated, and not just philosophized about. The text indicates that truth is revealed outside of just “word” or “talk,” as the term “truth” is coupled with the term “deed.” This means people will know we bear the truth when they see it, much more when they just hear about it.

In 1998, I was sitting with a Kenyan work crew for an after work bible study. The team from my college joined these guys on their construction site, and in return, the guys attended the bible study. These men were very humble, very poor. After the study, one man spoke up, “Brothers, thank you for this beautiful word. I have a question.” 

Smiling ear to ear, the leader said, “Sure! Anything, how can we serve you?”

Smiling, yet with a furrowed brow of perplexity, he went on, “You see, it is good to hear I am loved by God, but when I return home tonight.. and the children ask for food, and I have none… what do I tell them?”

The leader cleared his throat and said, “Tell them Jesus loves them and he has the power to provide for them! You can share with them about the love of--”

I immediately interrupted the leader, partly disgusted by the response, but mostly ashamed. I said, “You tell your kids there’s a bunch of selfish Americans you worked with today, who have more than enough, but aren’t willing to share it with you. You tell them… (I started crying) You tell them we’re sorry. You tell them it’s not God’s fault, it’s ours. He’s told us what to do. We just don’t care enough, or aren’t courageous enough, or don’t really love… at all.”

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Let’s recognize that our spirituality should be defined by God’s words on the matter, and not by our own need to justify our habits or comforts. 

After feeding the hungry multitude in the wilderness, Jesus was asked to offer a sign to prove he was sent from God. He didn’t give them another one. He didn’t do anything else but challenge them to believe that his way was God’s way. The sacrificial sharing of resources was the sign of his spirituality. Can you see it?

Written by Gregg D. Garner

August 18, 2014

Feeding the hungry GOD Intl

Is My Money More Effective 
Than My Presence?

During my first trip to Kenya, I sat with a man who shared with me his worries associated with providing the basic fees necessary for his two children to go to school. It was because of such stress that he told me he and his wife did not want to have any more children. As we talked about the problem, a large team from the U.S. marched in, uniformed with matching bible verse t-shirts and dirty tennis shoes, to order pizza at the restaurant where we were eating. He whispered to me, “They are here to see the animals.”

Is your money more effective than your presence? Well, it depends on the quality of your presence. Can you do something about the problems at hand, or are you going to see the animals? Could your skills help someone learn how to build not only their home, but also their neighbor’s, in a responsible way? Could you help a family plumb their toilets so that certain diseases no longer affect their children? Could you teach a man a faster way to set bricks, allowing him to do his work faster, getting more customers in his business and more time with his kids? If so, go!

Some specialists can accomplish a great deal in the course of a few short weeks, and it would be worth the money spent to get them there. But for most who are seeking a mission trip experience, they have one main thing to offer: the money to get them there. This is because mission trips are largely targeted towards youth, soft-selling the task of alleviating suffering as a very small amount of effort, just one week a year.

Many times, locals will be hired to redo the same project the mission team from the West began, didn’t finish, or completed haphazardly. There is an irony in sending young kids to do something that they’ve never done before, when people on the ground, locals, who will actually live with the finished result, remain unemployed.

Money can be more effective than presence when your presence is untrained or unaware of the “big picture” that can bring societal transformation and a sustainable infrastructure. More often than not, the kinds of projects that actually benefit an individual, family, or community will take far longer than the length of time most want to spend away from home on their mission trip.

But, will a person be willing to give money towards someone’s home, or garden, or school, without having an experience with them? Short-term trips can be effective for giving individuals a better understanding of poverty, if they are well facilitated.

Unlike the voluntourism trend that millions embark on every year, we challenge people to be responsible for their experience on our short-term mission trips. The Bible teaches that you are responsible for the needy that you come into contact with; remember the Good Samaritan story? While the poor in the third world are not our physical neighbors, our worldwide travel agendas put them in our proximity, and make us responsible for what we have seen. If people want to take up that responsibility, we are ready to make them into the kind of experts whose presence is worth the money it costs to send them abroad, but also with the heart to stay long enough to make a lasting impact. Perhaps even, like Jesus, to dwell among them.

As an organization, you will never hear us touting that money has allowed us to have success. We believe it is the development of human resources, who can adequately respond to needs, who are the greatest asset to a world in need. We also believe “we are His workmanship created for good works” (Eph. 2:10). Jesus told his disciples “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts” (Matt. 10:8-9). He didn’t think that it was money that made the difference, so he told them not to pack it. But he also gave this directive after they had spent a sufficient amount of time learning from him how to participate in healing society.

Until a group of people (remember, the disciples weren’t sent out alone) come into this kind of expertise, we must continue to weigh out what is more effective: money or presence. When a group is able to to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons, and has the character to do so regardless of payment received, presence wins. For others without such competency and character, money might.

Written by Laurie Germeraad Kagay

August 12, 2014

Missions work at GOD Intl

Voluntourism:
Affluent Kids "Doing Missions"

Missions has become easy to talk about in economic terms. There is a high demand for travel, cultural experiences, and adventure, and there is a demographic of young people that have the money to pay, quite handsomely, for these experiences. In this arrangement, there is money to be made. Under the pressures and attraction of economic gain, missions has become less about serving people and more about offering a product, a product that panders to a young demographic willing to shell out money for interesting pictures to put on their facebook accounts.

This model of missions has become synonymous with missions as a whole. People fail to distinguish between this model and more serious approaches to development. The confusion of categories is counter-productive in many ways. Thinking that all mission work is of the same grade, people can believe they are participating in something serious when in fact they are not.

It’s better to call things for what they are. (One of the main responsibilities of language users is to properly categorize things.) It would be better to call the prevalent model of missions something different--something like “voluntourism”--to distinguish it from serious mission work. Missions is an attempt to create a workable response to the problems of the third world; “voluntourism” is an attempt to satisfy the needs of young people who want to travel the world. The two models are in fact worlds apart. The two models run in opposite directions. One is uprooting what the other is trying to plant.

An example: Young people want to see poverty. The more lurid the scene, the better. Because of this, there is often little incentive for short-term trips to actually improve the living conditions of the people they work with.

This doesn’t mean that we never do short-term trips, or that all other missions organizations are “voluntourists.” It is to point out a reality: There is a whole industry of missions that has nothing to do with seriously attempting to improve the long-term living conditions of the poor, and they have everything to do with providing an experience for young people to enjoy. To equate serious mission work with voluntourism--to say that they are practically doing the same thing--is a confusion of reality.

When you analyze the issues of a third-world environment, you quickly come to the realization that the solution won’t come in the form of quick trips and inexperienced youth. You realize that giving a workable response to these problems requires a kind of dedication that simply will not appeal to a person’s desire for a quick dose of adventure and fun.  

Written by Benjamin Reese

August 1, 2014

Voluntourism GOD Intl