Autor: Jim Harries
Category: Desarrollo del Liderazgo, Asociación, Integridad y Anti Corrupción
Let us imagine a Westerner having interest in supporting Gospel work amongst a certain ‘poor’ non-western people.
In my experience (in work in Africa), if you go to such people as a ‘western missionary’, but do not give things to them, they can very quickly tire of you. This reflects a degree of valuation of western missionaries that is based very much in their ‘money’, and also a morality widespread in the West – that if you work ‘with the poor’ you have to be giving to them. But, if the missionary keeps control of their money, then they will inevitably (even if inadvertently) use the money to acquire power for whatever ministry(s) they are engaged in, while of course keeping ‘strings’ attached to their money, producing ’dependency’, and setting themselves apart from other people on the ground.
The solution seems to be, that the missionary should go, and give their money (however much) that they have ‘for ministry’ and not for their personal upkeep, to someone in the organisation in which / for which they are working, say on an annual basis. Then it is known that the missionary is ‘donating’, so they don’t have to be accused of being tight and uncaring. But, providing they do not ‘check’ on how that money is being used, they are not attaching strings to it, will not be manipulating ministry through it, and will not attract the interest of people who would like to see the money diverted in their direction, as they have no control over how it is used. So then, the ministry is being funded, but because the missionary is not controlling the funds, it can be run ‘indigenously’.
I can say that I personally worked on the above model in a certain ministry for 10 years. I can say that it ‘did not work’. After 10 years, it was a relief to find that someone other than me pulled the plug on the money; when the corruption and misappropriation that was going on became more and more widely known.
On the basis of the above and related experiences, I do not see how that model can work. Many donors these days operate from a vast distance, and have almost no familiarity with local languages, contexts and conditions. That can ‘work’ in a way – if they are out of reach and receiving either no reports about how their money is being used, or only the reports by the official recipient. Such may of course end up supporting someone financially who, far from being an asset, may be a liability or problem to the ‘true ministers of the Gospel’ on the ground.
There is another model which I think is more workable. That is, for a missionary from the wealthy world to ‘invest’ in a known ministry, using money in a way that has evident strings attached, while investing their time and heart into other ministry to which they are not donating significant money. The missionary must keep a check to make sure their money is not being abused in the first case. But, if their efforts and time is being directed to people other than those involved in that ministry, then their money will not be acquiring influence where those efforts are expended, except perhaps indirectly (which I think is OK). If people working with the missionary in the area where he (she) spends time / effort want to accuse him of being uncaring because he does not always have his hand in his pocket, they can be pointed to that ‘other ministry’ where money clearly IS being invested by the missionary.
To expand on this a bit using an example, let us say a missionary from the West starts a football club for boys, and provides footballs and Bibles and sometimes even food to all concerned, while overseeing the running of the club. Meanwhile, most of the missionary’s time is spent in Bible teaching, pastoral visiting and preaching etc. When the missionary visits a bible class, home or church, he leaves with the money that he goes with. Thus a western missionary IS fulfilling the perceived need to ‘be giving’, WITHOUT having inappropriate control over the key Gospel ministry in which they are involved.
Note that the ministry that receives the funds should not be the key ministry. E.g. it should not be the church - because we do not want to put the church into a position of ’dependency’. If a missionary’s money is to reach ’the church’, it should do so indirectly - e.g. (in the above example) through footballers making voluntary contributions to the church through money they have received through playing football supported by the missionary.