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Helping Can Be Tricky

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Playing with orphaned kids when I’m on holidays, or sending practical supplies, sending quick fix help, welfare, voluntourism, unrequested gifts in kind, and thinking that slavery is over… there are lots of ways that trying to help others can be tricky. You might say, “But God has called us to help people! Is God trying us, by making it complicated?” I don’t think so. As in everything, God is most concerned with the attitude of our hearts when we try to help others. Humility, compassion and treating others as our equals, is critical.That is why partnership is so important to GMP. 

Partnership recognises that we, and those we seek to help, are equals. We both have something to give and to receive. Ask anyone who has visited a GMP partner and they will tell you their story of receiving more than they gave! This is the way God has constructed the world. As we give to others we grow more into the people we were intended to be, and understand more of God’s generosity (Mark 8:35). Old attitudes like “beggars can’t be choosers” fade away. This is a medieval idea anyway, and certainly not a Christian one.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” (Luke 6:31) begins to reign in our heart and actions.

A good attitude will mean that we ask questions when we work through a development organisation or a mission agency. How do they relate to the people that they help? What is their model of helping? What are the risks and opportunities? For Australian development organisations, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) sets high standards of practice for its members. Checking whether an organisation is a member is a great first step, to ensure that your gift is being used well. By the way, GMP is a member of ACFID!

So far this year, we have looked at five issues that can make helping tricky. We have five to go, so below is a little half-time quiz to see if it is making sense so far. Just tick the items that you think are good practice and cross out the ones which you think are not so good:

  • Don’t suggest new ways of doing things until you understand what is behind the current local practice;
  • Only give money, and don’t find out who you are helping and how;
  • Be sensitive to the way the organisation or agency talks about the people it helps;
  • Give people stuff that makes them look to you every year for more;
  • Give to the needs that you see without asking anyone local for the big picture;
  • Check out the organisation’s or agency’s website;
  • Give so you can get your photo taken putting a smile on someone else’s face;
  • Take time to think about where your gift can have the most impact;
  • Use an agency that you don’t know anything about, and Join a trip to meet some partners face-to-face.

ANSWERS HERE: https://www.gmp.org.au/about-us/news/the-do-s-and-don-ts-of-mission

Colin Scott,
COCOA Director

 

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