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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Where Could He Be?"

Luke Skywalker was, of course, referring to C-3PO. But I have commandeered the quote in reference to myself. Because this is my blog, so I can do that kind of thing. Watch me.

For the two of you who may have noticed that I didn't blog yesterday--and the one who took it a step further and actually wondered, 'Why hasn't Luke posted anything today?'--here is the answer: I'm sick.

I left work at 1:30 yesterday and went right to bed. I didn't get up until 8 this morning; I had a meeting at Sonlight I needed to attend, so I had to get up. I'm still not feeling great, so your prayers are welcome.

I even had a plan for what I was going to write about yesterday, but I didn't get around to it because I was trying to get better by sleeping. And it's hard to write blog posts that others can read while you're asleep.

I was going to comment on this video. Sonlight is very aware of the fact that 99% of church giving stays in the US, and only a very small part of what goes overseas is used to reach unreached peoples. Most of it goes to the "sexy" things like relief work. That's why my parents have made a conscious effort to give to bring the good news of Christ to people who have never had the opportunity to hear it before.

What bothers me about this video--and other things like it--is that I find the comparisons unfair. Sure, it may cost a lot less to feed Sudanese children than American children, but that's because the cost of living is so high here. It really costs a ton to live in the US. And, yes, if I drove an SUV, had a gym membership, and owned a time-share, this video may speak to me more. But I don't.

On the other hand, I do give to my local church, support missions efforts, and am thrilled to participate in Sonlight's giving opportunities like the Rice Bag Project--the one coming up this year is even more exciting... in my opinion.

Yes, true religion is looking after widows and orphans. But the more I hear about the nations who refuse money and are doing better because of it, I have to wonder if just giving money is the answer. As I mentioned above: It's "sexier" and easier to feel good about, but is it really helping? Is it really looking after widows and orphans to pour money into those countries?

My guess is that it's much more of a "teach a man to fish" kind of thing.

Thoughts?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

16 comments:

Danielle said...

Sorry you're not feeling well! I'll be praying for you.

I found this post interesting, as it is something I have dealt with as a missionary kid. As you know, I live on a mission hospital compound in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. It takes a lot of funds to run a hospital out here, and it might sound like of those "sexy" projects you were talking about. However, as I have lived here, I have realized that there is a lot more going on that I originally thought.

First, we have a Nurses Training College. All our nursing staff is local, and our college turns out trained Health Care Workers that then go out and work in remote villages.

Second, our ministry has an arm called Community-Based Health Care, which is completely teach-a-man-to-fish. This arm does not give villages money or items, but only training. We teach basic health care, lifestyle improvement, disease preventions, nutrition, etc., as well as offering spiritual and emotional counseling. It really works!

Third, we work closely with the country we minister in. The government helps with supplies, and national doctors come and work here sometimes to get training and experience.

My point? Although there definitely are some ministries that certainly could have a welfare result that is undesirable; there are also legitimate avenues for ministering and even funding that have the opposite effect.

Wow, that was a long comment.

mareserinitatis said...

And it's hard to write blog posts that others can read while you're asleep.I have no problem reading when you're asleep, unless I'm also asleep myself. ;-) I think you may want to go back and diagram that sentence. Your clauses are looking far more German in their ordering than I think you intended. Of course, another possible interpretation is to mention that writing blog posts while asleep that others can't understand may also be a challenge.

(That's the danger of writing while sick: someone who is also sick may respond.)

Hope you feel better soon. :-)

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Sorry you aren't feeling well! Get better soon!

No, I don't think just pouring money is all that helpful. It should always be a hand up, not a hand out. But sometimes you do have to feed them first. It's hard to do anything if you are starving. Sticking around and helping them learn to help themselves once those basic needs are met is what we need to remember to do.

mom said...

Awww, Luke! Hope you're feeling better soon!

Thought provoking indeed! Our family has financially given to a lot of good ministry causes through the years, but honestly, the older I get the more important I see it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. As you said, it's easy to give money...it's a lot harder to sacrifice self. Sometimes what can be more valuable is sitting and listening to someone in a crisis situation and offering yourself and whatever you may have to help them. Because it's only stuff that is worthless in the eternal picture, you know?

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

~ Angi :) said...

I'll even add that I believe the Body of Christ in the US can grow leaps in bounds in the manner of taking care of one another. It's easy to throw cash at a problem half way around the world; quite another to aid Johnny and Sally as they struggle to keep their children fed. Let us not judge our neighbor as a faulty steward to the end that we overlook his hardship, unwilling to invest in multiple levels in his life. Those "one anothers" bring spiritual dividend and an Acts 4:31 fellowship to the forefront. The equality of 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 can be a beautiful thing when it is expressed ~ an aroma of great savor unto the Lord God.

Wendy said...

I indeed missed you yesterday! So sorry you were sick, I pray for a speedy recovery.

I write blog posts in my sleep all the time. And while I do dishes & laundry...they just don't make it to the blog immediately :)

Steve said...

If you want to know how a truly free market creates wealth and is the most ethical system, then I urge you to self-study as I did at www.mises.org. I recently talked to a missionary friend back on a visit from Haiti who described how spiritually rich his people are there but financially poor. He contrasted that to the financial wealth we have in the US but even most church goers are so spiritually poor here. Tough questions, but as this country becomes more socialist each day perhaps we'll regain our spiritual riches as we burn through 2 centuries of accumulated financial wealth.

Ann said...

One thing we've tried to get across to our church members is to truly and prayerfully evaluate their budget and live with it as God wants them to rather than according to our social norms. That's something our family is trying to do on a regular basis. Yes, we have cell phones - BlackBerries, in fact - and many people think we could do without them and use that money for missions. But, we prayed over whether or not to get them, and we didn't get them until God flung the doors of opportunity wide open! We use them greatly in our ministry. We also have cable because we have to have cable in order to have cable internet. We have cable internet so we can have reliable high-speed internet for a lot of our ministry, something that has actually been helpful as we've ministered to some of our missionary friends. The issue is not how much we spend versus how much we could be giving. The issue is realizing that it's not that 90% is ours (and the government's) and 10% is God's. 100% is God's. He hands it to us and trusts us to ask Him how to use it, whether it's through missions giving, local church ministry, or meeting the needs (and wants) of our own families.

Luke said...

Danielle, great comment! Loved every word <smile>. Very good points all around. I'm nodding along with everything you're saying.

Cherish, I didn't even realize how easily misinterpreted that sentence was until you pointed it out <smile>. Hilarious.

Heather, I like that: A hand up. And you're right: Maslow's hierarchy of needs does play into this.

Tammy, you're right. It is often much harder to give of ourselves than to write a check. May we always be willing to give of our lives and not just the excess of our pocketbooks.

Angi, that is a really powerful challenge. And I know I'm guilty of being too stingy with my near neighbors because I'm judging them. Very good point. Ouch.

Wendy, I'm glad to know someone missed me <smile>.

Steve, thanks for the link. And it's true that when nations become prosperous they tend to no longer feel a need for the Lord. May we always cling to Him.

Ann, amen! Right on.

~Luke

Farm Fresh Jessica said...

I agree with you. That's why I like Compassion and Samaritan's Purse so well. They are programs that are teaching men to fish and are literally fishers of men.

Luke said...

That is good stuff, yes.

~Luke

danabbey said...

the "teaching men to fish" concept is a great way of equipping people and probably the best way to go in terms of being charitable to other nations.

i currently live in the philippines where poverty is endemic. people need to be educated in how to feed and fend for themselves so they can rise above their circumstances and enjoy a better quality of life.

perhaps a good way to do this would be if a western church hooked up with a local church in another country and co-developed an evangelistic, "fish-catching" program. that way you'd know where your money is going and be able to monitor progress, provide aid when needed, and truly be a high-impact part of someone's life other than being a faceless donor to people you'll never know on a personal level. this has probably already been done. think it's a worthy paradigm?

Luke said...

Dan, I think that's a great idea. Sadly, there is much evidence that shows we in America would often much rather just sign and check than get involved. But, yes, what you propose would be a beautiful thing, and continue to bring unity to the Body of Christ. Love it.

~Luke

Marya said...

While I hear what you're saying about the cost of living differences between here and other places, what spoke to me in that video is how much money we can fritter away if we don't think about it.

There's nothing wrong with a gym membership or an occasional latte. But I do think many of us lead lives of over consumption and a making a few different choices could leave more money in the budget to contribute to the needy, locally or overseas.

mom said...

This has been a great discussion, Luke! I've enjoyed all the comments as they've given me good things to continue to "chew" on :-)

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Luke said...

Marya, totally! I think it is a very good idea to consider how we spend our money and where. And it is very good to get involved in the opportunities God gives us that require very little of us.

Tammy, I've loved the comments too <smile>.

~Luke


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