More Than a Hammer

I was helping to remodel a buddy’s home recently, and in the midst of some mindless demolition work, he posed the question, “If you only have one tool to repair this house, what would you choose?”

My first thought was, “What is this, seventh grade?” I mean, I remember when we used to pose those ridiculous kinds of questions to one another all the time in middle school, ranging from cars and sports, to life-dreams and girls, but c’mon we’re older now. I’m sure we were the only ones who ever did that, but anyway…

Instead though, I played along. “Hmm, I’d probably choose a hammer,” I responded. Think of a hammer – it’s got great utility. It’s effective at everything from demolishing things to finishing them. At least finishing touches on putting things together. It is kind of like a multi-tool before there were multi-tools. He seemed to think that was a satisfactory answer, so we moved on in conversation.

But, the question made me think about what we are helping to equip people with around the world. As Xander explained, maybe giving people a tool is one of the most effective ways at helping to create self-sustainability. However, should we make them only choose one tool or give them multiple?

Here at impact49, we’ve decided that giving people a few tools probably helps them with a more holistic approach to being self-sustainable while they focus on church planting. So, the three tools that we give them are small-business training, discipleship training, and leadership training.

The small-business training gives them the tool to become economically self-sustained. In many areas around the world, it is difficult for people to even put food on their tables. So, addressing a way for them to provide for themselves is a huge source of empowerment. This tool also allows them to be a contributor to the local economy, which has many implications – they are viewed as small business owners by their neighbors, they help to provide jobs to others, the community sees them as a contributor. This is a pretty essential tool.

The discipleship training gives them the tool to make other disciples (which in the Bible seems like a key point). Through the training, the participants learn to become deeper followers of Christ as well as how to become disciple-makers. This often leads to home fellowships, small gatherings, and evangelism where God uses these local people to plant churches in their own towns and surrounding areas.

The leadership training gives them the tool to become better leaders in their homes, churches, and community. This tool helps to make everyone around them better. It focuses them on God and following Christ’s leadership example here in earth.

Let’s just say – it’s an awesome tool-kit! It really does provide the necessary tools for them to start a small project, and give it their best shot. The tool-kit looks to address economic, spiritual, and practical issues in the context that these folks live. And those are each important issues to be tackling.

So, as these people take on the project of advancing God’s Kingdom, let’s continue to equip them with the necessary tools to see the job through!

But Shouldn’t We Do Something?

     There have been a few occasions in my life that have required me to choose between actively pursuing a positive and actively avoiding the positive for fear that I will mess up and do more harm than good. Remember several weeks ago when we talked about getting out of the boat? It’s that choice between sitting within our fear and stepping out in faith toward Jesus. Well, to go a little further, I think we humans are good at perceiving what we should do—moving toward Jesus, but then justifying a reason as to why we just can’t do that.

    This past week, Josh talked about our potential to create dependency accidentally when we give to those in need. Admittedly, that is a tough thought to chew on. If you’re anything like me, you may think, “Well then what can I Do? Maybe it would be better if I just didn’t give anything at all?” It is hard to avoid that feeling after hearing that giving may not be as helpful as we think. However, I know Josh, and I doubt that he would tell anyone not to give at all. So what can we give? How should we give it?

    At Impact and Global, we think that maybe instead of giving charity, we could focus on giving tools. Now before you think I’m completely dismissing the practice of charity, hear me out. Charity has a place certainly is helpful to an extent. It would be difficult to argue that the gracious giving by many in the West has not in some way alleviated some poverty or aided a person in need. However, as Josh explained, it can be difficult to decipher when this giving starts to create accidental dependency. So, perhaps giving tools provides a helpful alternative. What do we mean by tools? Take a look:

Business Training: Would if we could help community leaders develop the business acumen that empowers their communities and families? When community leaders learn how to better develop their businesses, they learn self-sustainability, and the partnership between the West and rest of the world begins to look more equal.

This is only one simple tool that could help to enact tiny bits of change in regions all around the world. But this is the idea that we want people to start talking about. Giving is not a bad thing, quite the contrary. But would if we need to rethink what  we are giving?

 

Good Grief! I meant to help!

Accidental Dependence.

If we are familiar with these two words sitting side-by-side, we can often get that ‘oh no’ feeling in our stomachs. Why?

Well, probably because it means that we have found ourselves in a bit of a quandary. We have inadvertently created a situation that we didn’t even mean for or see coming – hence the ‘accidental’ part. The dependency idea we might be a bit more familiar with. Webster calls dependency “the state of needing something or someone.”

Great. But what does that have to do with impact49?

In last week’s blog, Xander explained the idea of ‘self-sustainability.’ (A mouthful, I know.) The essence of this long, hyphenated word is the ability to take care of one’s own needs.  Or, to not be dependent upon another.

However, in our Western culture, due to our big-heartedness and philanthropic bend, we have created what we call accidental dependence all over the world. What?? How could philanthropy and big-heartedness (two great things) create a problem? Well, it starts with our need to find a quick and easy solution to a much bigger problem. I’ll give you an example.

I passed a young man on the streets of India a few months ago who stopped me and asked for some money. We talked for a bit, and he reassured me that he was going to buy a mango across the street for lunch. And he did. But, what if in our conversation I would have offered to send the young man $5 a week from my bank account in the US? I mean, I can spare $5 a week. With the promise to give him $5 a week, I let him know that I’ll do it for as long as I can, but not to count on it always being there in the future.

So, 3 years goes by, and every week my $5 shows up for him. It comes like clock-work and it is always the same amount. The young man doesn’t mean to count on it, but it is ALWAYS there right on-time. Due to this, the young man improves his living situation a bit; moving from a shared room for $3 a month to a room by himself for $10 per month. It is great! His life is improving!

Then, one day, I lose my job here in the US. I can barely make ends-meet, and I hate to do it, but I have to stop sending the $5 a month to the young man because I don’t have it to give. Suddenly there is a problem. The young man can’t pay his $10 a month rent. He can no longer take public transportation. He doesn’t even have money for food just to sustain life. He’s not only back to where he was, but someone else has moved into the shared living quarters, and he has to somehow figure out how to simply make enough money to get by again.

This…is accidental dependence. I saw a need, and I met it. I had the disposable income, and I gave it. I was moved with compassion to do something, and I did it. But, what in the end did I really DO. What in the end did I really GIVE? Was I helping to move him forward, or did I actually create a situation that now has to be resolved?

That is a question we all need to wrestle with.

What do you mean “Self-Sustainable”?

     A few weeks ago, we attempted to wrestle with the idea of embracing the new/different. We used the story of Peter walking on the Galilean waves toward Jesus as a metaphor to help us understand the way today’s Christ follower could help to bring about the Kingdom of God—even when it requires a lot of us. In fact, isn’t the fundamental characteristic of being a Christ follower that we are “all in”. Christ does indeed require a lot of us—what’s more, He demands ALL of us. This has some massive implications for how we think about the church’s (in this case I am referring to the universal church: the entire body of believers worldwide) mission to point the world to Christ, while simultaneously helping to bring His Kingdom to earth. Naturally, we have to constantly ask ourselves “In what direction is God leading us? “What is the best way we can both point people to Jesus and approximate God’s Kingdom on earth?” In doing this, we remain in-tune to God’s spiritual frequency, able to to follow Him wherever He beckons us.

    As we have mentioned before, we (Impact and Global) feel that God is leading us in a certain direction in regard to doing missions. In the next few weeks, we will outline some of the key functions of the Impact and Global model. For now, I want to focus on one of the distinguishing factors that makes us excited about what where God is taking world missions in the 21 Century.

    One of the unique parts about the Global Disciples’ (and Impact49) model is that it is self-sustainable. What does this mean? To explore this, let’s check out what it doesn’t mean:

1) It doesn’t mean giving out “handouts”. Global Disciples and Impact49 are not focused on solely giving to people who are in economic need. We don’t just want to send our people to a region that is in need both physically and spiritually, let them drop off resources and Bibles, and then hop back on a plane to the US. Although handouts are helpful and certainly have a place in providing aid and assistance to those in need, we want are interested in something totally different.

2) It doesn’t mean that the developing world should be waiting on the West, as it were. We don’t see the West as intrinsically more powerful or “better” than the developing world. That is why we want to cultivate and empower those in the developing world to build their communities both in a physical and economical sense, but also in a spiritual one. We want to see the relationship between the West and the developing world as a coplanar relationship—one is not better than the other;  it is all God’s beloved creation.

Self-sustainability DOES mean that by giving native leaders the necessary training and resources to lead their communities and churches, western believers can play a role in bringing the Gospel to every corner of the globe. It DOES mean that church leaders in these places have the capacity and spiritual gifting to lead and multiply groups of believers. Lastly, it DOES mean that we are still called to bring the Gospel to every corner of the earth; but maybe how we do this looks different. Self-sustainability operates under the belief that indigenous leaders (people native to a particular region who have potential to lead their community) can multiply believers and help to spread  the Gospel—they just need some of the resources that we westerners have in abundance (training tools, money, business knowledge). By training and equipping these leaders to build faith-based communities in their particular region of the world, we are fulfilling Christ’s call to make disciples—we are “getting out of the boat”.