Sunday, May 15, 2011

Unintentional Consequences - Short Term Missions to Orphans

A friend recently brought up a point that I had not thought of as it relates to her child and the short term missions teams that came to his orphanage.

He has a tough time in his attachment to his parents. 

She mentioned that his experience with white people was that they were really nice people that loved you well, and then left after a week, never to be seen again.  Over and over and over again.

No wonder he has a hard time trusting that she will always be there. 


I see the other side of the story and it fits with what my heart wants to think. 

The orphanages are under-staffed.  It's better to know love for a week than to not know love at all.  If a baby is never held, the attachment will be difficult in a different way.  At least the general feeling toward white people was positive, though associated with loss.  These missionaries were doing their best to share the love of Christ with the kids. 

But was it the best thing?

I know that each situation and each child is different, and that God may lead someone to a particular orphanage at an exact time for a specific purpose.  I don't deny all the "God-moments" that people have had as they worked with orphans.  I just want to step back and look closely at the benefits and consequences of the way we're doing things, so that we can do better.

It's not a perfect world and there are no perfect solutions.  We have to do the best we can with what we have. 

Would it be better to save the airfare and give to organizations on the ground, so they can hire permanent staff?  Maybe God is calling a  generation to step up and give of their lives in a whole new way? 

I do know that a lifelong, permanent, committed relationship with an orphan will impact their lives far more than a one-week mountain-top experience.  Of course, it's a lot harder, and requires dying to yourself daily.  But does Jesus Christ deserve anything less (than dying to yourself daily)?

What do you think?  I'd love to know your thoughts.  I realize this is hard stuff to think about, but I appreciate input from all perspectives.  Just trying to figure this out as best I can.

Blessings to you,


Mama Bear said...

I had never thought of it that way, but I can see now that it would definitely be true. I have often thought of the way that 'we' sweep through an area like we are supposed to be doing something so good and so great and then 'we' go home and feel changed from the experience but what about the ones who are left behind? They are still poor, lonely, sick, and/or hurting. So, how DO we help in the best way to further the Kingdom? A good thought to ponder and pray over. Thanks!

Marnie C. said...

So maybe organizations like Compassion International have it right since the money for kids is funneled through a local Christian church? That way, decisions are made by those closest to the kids/families and it requires a long term relationship with a church/mission. Not sure if Compassion works directly with orphanages, but maybe that model is the one to have the best impact since it provides long term relationship. A lot to think about.