Ethnographic Research #2

A method that is common and respected in the Philippines is Rapid Rural Assessment (or appraisal). It is used primarily for community development. It does not actually have to be “rural,” that is just its traditional setting. Additionally, it can be modified to where the researcher is not merely an outside. Rather the “researcher” is a partnership of outsiders and insiders. In this case it can be called a PRA, where the “P” stands for “participatory.” The presentation is definitely focused on the Philippines where the barangay structure is especially conducive to the methodology. However, any place where there is a strong sense of community, RRAs or PRAs can be done.  RRA can be done where there is a weak sense of community, but it is more challenging. Another method is ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development) but I will leave that for another time, or for someone else.

<div style=”width:425px” id=”__ss_10665868″> <strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/bmunson3/rapid-rural-assessment-in-the-philippines&#8221; title=”Rapid Rural Assessment in the Philippines” target=”_blank”>Rapid Rural Assessment in the Philippines</a></strong> <div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”> View more <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/&#8221; target=”_blank”>presentations</a> from <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/bmunson3&#8243; target=”_blank”>Bob Munson</a> </div> </div>

Medical Mission Events in the Philippines, Part III

This is some material from my dissertation,  STRATEGIC USE OF MEDICAL MISSION EVENTS IN LONG-TERM LOCAL CHURCH OUTREACH: A CONSULTANT-STYLE FRAMEWORK FOR MEDICAL MISSION PRACTITIONERS IN THE ILOCOS REGION, PHILIPPINES. I will give a bit of a top-level look in this post, and some propositional work in Part IV.

The characteristics of “REAL” Medical Missions:

    Right Motives

    Effective Partnering (Outsiders)

    Active Community Participation (Insiders)

    Long-term Strategy and Planning

On the other hand, some Medical Missions “WILT”. They have these qualities:

          Wrong Motives

          Ineffective Partnering (Outsiders)

          Lack of Community Participation (Insiders)

          Temporary (short-term) Strategy and Planning

According to the interviewees the following are three major or common right motives:

  1. The example of Christ to love others and to express that love in tangible ways.
  2. Concern for the varied needs of the community
  3. The desire to empower the church to impact its community

Additionally, the were three major or common areas described as wrong motives:

  1. Focus on anything other than God/Christ’s Example/Love.
  1. Prioritization on strategy or ministry (rather than the community)
  2. Accumulation of power (rather than empowering others)

    Relevant Book: Healthy Christian Medical Missions

Medical Mission Events in the Philippines, Part II

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijna... Why NOT to Do Medical Missions To fully go into all the reasons not to do medical missions would take too long. So here is a short version. NOTE:  I think there are reasons why medical missions should be done, and can be done successfully… but one must honestly face problems. 1.  Strategic Problems. Medical missions may have problems strategically. First, is the area of effectivity. Medical missions provide short-term medical care.  But if there is no recognizable change in the overall physical health of a community a few months after a medical mission, was it actually effective? Many of the problems are chronic and cannot be addressed with a one-time mission. Commonly medical missions do not focus on training, which may lead to longer term health.  Second is the area of efficiency. Even if they do accomplish something of value, it involves hundreds of man-hours and hundreds to thousands of dollars. The benefits may not justify the cost. Third is the lack of sustainability. With the exit of the team, the community tends to lack the training and material resources to continue the process. 2.  Medical Problems. Medical missions often involve poor methodology. There is no time for proper diagnostics or follow-up. Focus tends to be on short-term curative methods, not on health training and community change. Additionally there is a Western focus of medical missions. Western medicine focuses on popping pills, rather than preventive care, local medical practices, healthy diet, and low cost local alternatives to Western pills. 3.  Attitude Problems. Medical missions are typically driven by outsiders. As such there can be a paternalistic attitude where the focus is NOT on how a local community can care for itself. Therefore, there is a fear of dependency where a community comes to believe that solutions and resources are things that come from the outside. Additionally, medical missions often are… selfish. As strange as this sounds, when medical short-term missions are justified, the focus tends to not be on what is accomplished for the communities, but rather on the inspiration and training received by the team members. 4. Regional Problems. In the Philippines, medical missions are often done tied to local government. Often they are done for political ends. As such it, perhaps, can be tied to political corruption. Additionally, medical missions may provide an excuse for local governments not to provide an adequate health infrastructure. Further, local churches, who partner with medical missions for supposedly spiritual ends, often use medical missions for little more than to try to lure people away from other local churches. Such selfish attitudes hardly justify all the work involved. ———————————— Biblical Question There is another reason given by some people for opposing medical missions… Medical Missions are not Biblical. These people would argue that secular medical care is not God’s way. Godly healing is through prayer. I, personally, have great problems with this argument, but I suppose it should be addressed. In the Bible, there are a number of health practices listed. a.  Prayer and miraculous healing. Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, and the 12 disciples (and others) did at times do miraculous healing. Irenaeus in the 2nd century showed that miraculous healing was at least occasionally still done at this time. b.  Public health practices. Leviticus chapters 13 and 14 describe the priests’ job to diagnose, quarantine, and inspect people with skin diseases. Likewise, Ezekiel 34 (the Parable of the Bad Shepherds) condemns the civil and religious leaders for failing to care for the physical needs of the people. Moses in Numbers 21:8-9 placed a bronze serpent on a pole to provide healing for his people bitten by snakes. This shows that public health and the miraculous can overlap. c.  General care. Matthew 25:31-46 describes people who please God and this includes those who care for the sick, hungry, thirsty, homeless, and naked. This is general (or nursing) care dealing with issues of physical deprivation and illness. During the Antonine, Cyprian, and other plagues in the Roman Empire, caring for the sick and burying the dead was a major ministry of the local churches. d.  Medical care. A key passage of classic medical care is Luke 10:25-37. This is the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this parable, a Samaritan discovers a man who had been robbed and brutalized by highwaymen. The Samaritan applied oil as a salve, wine as a disinfectant, the bandages to protect the wounds and promote healing. Then he transported the injured man to a place for healing, nursed him for one day, and paid the innkeeper money to continue nursing. The purpose and application of the parable demonstrate that this story describes a sound Christian ministry. The purpose of the parable was to explain the meaning of the phrase, “and love your neighbor as yourself.” The application is, perhaps, even more direct since in verse 37 Jesus tells those listening that they are to “go and do likewise.” Paul suggested wine to settle Timothy’s stomach. Additionally, in James 5:14-15, church leaders are to pray for and apply oil to the sick. Some interpret this in purely miraculous (or at least spiritual) terms. However, since oil was part of classic medical treatment, symbolically it appears to show medical and spiritual working together. I am well aware that the interpretation of the James 5 passage is controversial… but that’s okay with me. To me the James passage suggest the overlap of the medical and the miraculous as the Numbers passage shows the overlap of public health and the miraculous. The point is that the Bible describes many levels of health care. To look at one type of health care as being God-ordained is simply denying the breadth of God’s working. Part III of this series looks at the Correct Purposes of Medical Missions.

Relevant Book: Healthy Christian Medical Missions

Self-Reflection, Part II

Women's Missionary Union Pamphlet ND
Lottie Moon. Great, and sharp-tongued inspirer of churches to greater mission involvement and support. Image via Wikipedia

OKAY… CONFESSION TIME.

I have a job in a missions organization (administrator of a Christian Counseling and Training Center). I also have had a role as missions director in more than one local church. I found myself drifting away from doing good work as missions director. Why? Because the churches had relatively little interest in missions as a group (at least compared to missions organizations I have been involved in). Sure there were a few people, but they were a small missions core in a much larger congregation. I tended to feel the church was selfish because they focused on member care most, with some interest in church growth (increase numbers in OUR church), little in classic missions (growth of God’s Kingdom, with little to no direct effect on our church).

However, I had two major realizations:

1.  Maybe the churches were selfish… but so was I. A church that sends money, people, or resources to the other side of the world gets no real tangible return on their investment. Doing things “for the Kingdom of God” is pretty abstract for most church members. But as a missionary, I get credit for everything. I get credit for what I do in church… I get credit for what I do outside the church, on a local level… I get credit for what I do that creates change far away.  Maybe churches are selfish (they are made up of people, and people are selfish), but I can’t be so sure that I am not selfish either. Would I invest in things joyously that I could not, on some level, claim credit? Perhaps my lack of effort in the church demonstrated my own selfishness, not willing to invest time in something because in may not result in something good (something I can take credit in).

2.  Perhaps more than just being selfish, I was being lazy. A major role of the missionary is to reproduce himself. I believe the reason that so many churches in the Philippines (for example) have little to no cross-cultural missions interest is that they were trained up by missionaries. The missionaries did not instill in these churches an excitement for cross-cultural missions because this form of missions “is the missionary’s job”.  Often the greatest missionaries were those who could inspire people and churches to missions who, otherwise, would not have. Missionaries often like to work in missions groups, because the members of these groups are already motivated, already wanting to learn, and already desiring to do great things in the world. Missionaries don’t have to go through the difficult and unreliable task of motivating and training those who don’t share this burden and passion.

A good missionary does more than organize a coalition of the willing. He inspires churches and church members to join God in His mission (Missio Dei).

So I intend to make some changes. We will see how this goes.

Screaming Hornets and Letters from Home

We just got a box of goods from our home church. It had a couple of books, some vitamins, Old Bay Seasoning, clarinet reeds, a table cloth, some letters from children and friends at our home church, and a couple of bottles of Screaming Hornets Hot Sauce. The box reminded me of a few things that international missionaries need from their home church.

1. Things they need to minister that are not available in their new locations. Chewable vitamins are very useful in the work that we do. But chewable vitamins are generally unavailable in the Philippines (or prohibitively expensive). Two books (one on missiology and one on family counseling) we got are available in the US but not here.

2. Things that are not available but add to quality of life. The table cloth we got is of a type that is unavailable here. Clarinet (and saxophone) reeds are available where we live, but only beginner types. We used to appreciate dark chocolate because it was unavailable… but times have changed and they are now easy to get here.

3. Things that are not available and connect one to home. The Philippines has a lot of great food, but some things from back home cannot be come by. Coming from Virginia there are some good things we miss. We miss good ham… but that’s not particularly realistic to ship. But the Old Bay Seasoning and the Screaming Hornets Hot Sauce are small, but important ways of connecting with home.

4. Verbal expressions. The letters remind us in a tangible way that we are connected with home. It is always good to know that we are remembered.

Letters from Home

You know, the Philippines is our home now. But that does not mean that we have lost our old home. We have two homes. Missionaries need financial support, they need material support for ministry. But they also need things that connect them to friends and family and land that is their other home.

Being involved with a counseling center here in the Philippines, one of our ministries is providing member care— psychological, emotional, and spiritual support— for missionaries, particularly for Filipino missionaries that serve in other countries. The loneliness and depression that sense of disconnection is common. This is partly due to the common experience of being disconnected from home. Just because missionaries go to other countries, it should not be assumed that a part of them does not remain at home.

It is very difficult for those that feel cut off… rejected… at home. A box from home is not much… but it says a lot.

Challenges of Church-Based COMDEV in the Philippines (Part 2)

<Continued>

B.  Challenges Associated with the Philippines

1.  Cultural Factors

-“Utang na loob“. This term literally means “inside debt”. This is an implied obligation one experiences after receiving a gift or help. Since community development is about interdependency, “utang na loob” tends to prevent this interdependency. Instead, it tends to promote dependency (“rice Christian” effect)

-“Bahala na”. This term describes a sort of resignation to fate or luck. Quoting Tomas D. Andres, “Bahala na works against Individual and social progress, … It harnesses one’s behavior to a submissiveness that eats up one’s sense of responsibility and personal independence. It provides one with a false sense of self-confidence to proceed with an unsound action in the belief that somehow one will manage to get by.” Bahala na sounds Christian (Thy will be done), but only if one confuses a personal God with impersonal fate.

-Datu mentality. The datu (local leader) mentality limits growth and innovation because of the tendency of decisions to be made by one with little creativity. Community development works best when the creativity and power is shared broadly within the community.

2.  Historical Factors.

-As mentioned before, community development in the Philippines came through the government, foreign government, and non-governmental organizations. Therefore, churches lack history in community development.

-Historically, the track record of the community development groups are questionable. Often based on flawed beliefs (or theology), or bad methodology, there is little real change seen.

-Many churches assume all government to be corrupt, so to work with governmental organizations is impossible, or will lead to compromise.

C.  Non-contextual Factors

-The tendency of money to create dependency. Glenn Schwarz has pointed out that if rich countries simply giving money to poor communities worked, “then Haiti should be a shining example of development in our world.” Dependency destroys rather than develops.

-Development is often linked to economic wealth. Wealth doesn’t always develop a community… sometimes it destroys it. To develop wholistically (not just economically) is a challenge.

-Although development is not about money, money will always be a factor. The lack of money in communities makes local church-based development difficult.

-Another problem is the uncertain role of social ministry within the church. Ballard describes five basic attitudes:  Spiritualistic, “Social Gospel”, Convenience, Ulterior Motive, and Wholism. Only a wholistic attitude is likely to genuinely produce solid interdependent community development. However, this may require a major change in attitude of the local church

-Fragmentation is another problem. Partnership is needed for community development, but that means mature sharing of power and vision. However, people and organizations like to accumulate power and act according to their own vision.

-Outside help is often needed to do community development, but leadership must be developed within the community to take over. Power and skills must be transferred to to local elements.

0000000000000000000000000

So, can the church be involved in community development in the Philippines? YES.  It has much to offer.

1.  Community development should be wholistic… this means that it concerns itself with all aspects important to human and social development. This includes spiritual.

2.  Churches SHOULD provide a model of interconnectedness in community. If they don’t, there is something wrong with the church.

3.  Local churches are already in the community. They are an important institution that exists incarnately within the broader community.

4.  Churches already have a (hopefully wise ) group of leaders within the community that can help with development.

Additionally, there are characteristics of the Philippines that can help with community development.

1.  The barangay system sets up community government. This removes some of the difficulty of setting up community structures for development.

2.  The Catholicism of the Philippines helps. The common understanding of God and His role in reaching out to communities and individuals is important to wholistic work.

3.  “Pakikisama” and “Bayanihan” are two Philippine cultural traits that describe coming together with purpose for common good. Building community development in line with these cultural values may be more successful than in the US where Individualism takes precedence.

GOOD EXAMPLES OF REAL CHURCH-BASED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IS LIMITED IN THE PHILIPPINES… BUT TIMES ARE CHANGING. LET’S PRAY THAT THE CHANGES OCCUR SOON.

Challenges of Church-Based COMDEV in the Philippines (Part I)

This is a brief summary of issues brought up from interviews with 
community development specialists and church leaders in the Philippines 
in 2007. I have seen nothing to suggest that things have changed. 
Community Development, I believe, is a critical component for the church
and church members in being salt and light to the world. And... assuming
the world does not end suddenly in 2011 or 2012 (as popular apocalypticists 
keep on about), wholistic development is critical in transforming the 
hearts of individuals as well as communities.
Church-based Bamboocraft Program in Baraoas, La Union, Philippines
In the study, the challenges were broken down into three basic 
categories. These are:  
1. Challenges within the Philippine Church context 
2. Challenges within the Philippine context 
3. Non-contextual challenges 


1. Challenges within the Philippine Church context 
A. Bad Theology 
Bad Theology #1. Religious Dualism. Many in church maintain a strong 
belief that there is a major gulf between the sacred and the secular. 
This in itself is not bad. However, these churches then suggest that 
that which is sacred is for churches to involve themselves, while the 
secular is to be ignored by the church. Unfortunately, many churches 
believe that the physical, educational, social, and emotional needs of 
the surrounding community are secular, and thus, not their problem. 


Bad Theology #2. Separatism. Churches often seek to maintain a social 
purity... trying to remove the "stain of the world." Sadly, this often 
means that these churches do not interact with other people and 
institutions within their community. These churches often become 
insular... failing to make an impact with those around them. 


Bad Theology #3. Lack of Contextualization in Community Development. 
Community Development and Wholism are primarily Western concepts. 
They have entered the Philippines through secular and religious NGOs
as well as government agencies. There has been little work to develop 
these as Philippine Theology. This failure makes community development 
seem foreign to local churches. 


Bad Theology #4. Individualism. Churches, particularly Evangelical 
Churches tend to accept the Western ideal of Individualism. The church 
should focus on individual conversion, individual discipleship, 
individual development. Many churches have a hard time recognizing that 
other social groupings have any value at all. When a church sees a 
community as an aggregate of individuals, there is little to make the 
church value community transformation. 


Bad Theology #5. Apocalypticism. Of course, with different groups 
calling the return of Christ as occurring in 2011 or 2012, there is 
little to motivate churches to invest in community transformation. Scare 
tactics and mass evangelistic techniques seem to make more sense. This 
has been around for along time. St. Paul had to reprove people in the 
church of Thessalonica for sitting around being a burden on the church 
because they believed that Christ was returning at any moment. However, 
Jesus said to be faithful until the end... not making foolish decisions 
because of trying to efficiently "time" His return. If the church had 
spent more time seeking to mercy and justice to transform their 
communities physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually rather than 
trying to focus on date-setting, I believe the church over the last 
several decades would not be drifting towards irrelevancy. 


B. Lack of Resources. Philippine churches typically feel they lack the 
financial, material, and human resources to do community development. 
This is, to some extent false. Community development requires more will 
then wallet. This is, also, to some extent self-fulfilling. That is 
because if you do not train your membership to do community development, 
and you do not develop the material resources, than you (not surprisingly) 
lack these resources. 


C. Focus on Relief. Churches almost always focus on quick-fixes, bait and 
switch, and disaster relief. The idea of a long-term commitment to 
minister outside of itself, is quite foreign and scary to most 
Philippine churches.


D. Lack of Example. Since most community development is done by government 
agencies or NGOs, churches lack good examples of church-based or 
church-initiated community development. When I was working on my 
dissertation from Asia Baptist Graduate Theological Seminary a few years 
ago, I had originally decided to do my paper as a Grounded Theory Analysis 
of Church-based or Church-initiated Community Development in the 
Philippines. I decided I had to change topics due to a lack of source 
material.

Missional Churches and Missionary Churches

Missional churches are churches that are driven to support world-wide missions through resources and manpower. Missionary churches are churches started by missionaries. Are they the same thing?

Protestant churches have only been in the Philippines (where I live) for a little over 100 years. A large number of Protestant churches are 1st generation missionary churches. That is, foreign missionaries started these churches. Once you have added 2nd generation and 3rd generation churches, you have a huge percentage of the churches here.

One might expect that churches started by missionaries should be missional. One would think that a church would in some way fit the mold of the founder. One is reminded of the church in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”. The church was founded and built by a former whaling ship captain. The building and the sermons was linked to the sea and whaling. This just makes sense.

But, Protestant churches in the Philippines ALMOST without exception, are not missional. They do not support missionaries, except as tentmakers (and do little to nothing to train, empower, and encourage such tentmaker missionaries). Those who want to go into cross-cultural missions are not supported and are, in fact, generally encouraged to stay in the church working on local ministry. (There are exceptions… but so few.)

Why is this? I would like to make a suggestion. This suggestion is consistent with some comments I have heard from other missionaries. Okay… here it is.

Missionaries did not come to the Philippines to create missionaries. They did not want to create missionaries. Missionaries are supposed to come from Western countries (or perhaps South Korea). Missionaries are not supposed to come from the Philippines. The Philippines is supposed to receive missionaries not send them.

So what were the missionaries doing in the Philippines?  They were seeking to create local churches that would create other local churches. They were seeking to create local pastors who would train up other local pastors.

So, in effect, the churches created did develop in the image of their founders. The churches in the Philippines created are focused on local church growth, local church multiplication, and local church leader development.

But sometimes it is best to leave the founders behind and for churches to make their own way. The Philippines is poised to change the world.

There is a “prophecy” given by a self-styled prophet that the Philippines will do great things in sharing the gospel to the world.

The Philippines IS poised to change the world, but they must stop grasping at self-serving quotations, and start making some real changes…. and these changes need to occur regardless of whether foreign missionaries will jump on board.

 

Amish Missions?

<This is not about those Christians who seek to minister to the Amish. Frankly, I have absolutely no opinion about them. This is about missions done by Amish Christians to non-Christians.>

One of the frustrations I (personally) have in evangelism is the lack of separation between sharing God’s message and sharing one’s denominational message. Not only do Christian witnesses connect these two but often:Image result for amish buggy

  • don’t see the two messages as being different.  And…
  • don’t see the inappropriateness of linking the two messages.

As I have noted in a previous post, I have had people share Christ’s message. But as soon as they realize that I am already a Christian, their message instantly changes to their own denomination’s message. The mild disappointment they exude upon learning that I am already a Christian switches to frustration and unhappiness  that I have no interest in becoming their type of Christian. Because I did not respond, they feel like failures.

One might assume that the linking together of God’s message and one’s denominational message is normal… even necessary.  Most Christian evangelistic methods target those who are a “different type of Christian”. For example “The Romans Road” and the “Bridge Illustration” targets people who were raised up in a “Christian” culture, already believe in Christ, value the Bible, and may even be active in a church. But they focus on Christians who are nominal (or perhaps) lacking in faith, or are in a Christian tradition that does not utilize the Sinner’s Prayer as a demonstration for conversion.

But can Christians point people to Christ without NECESSARILY pointing to their own church?  I would like to give an example of one such group.

I was raised in Upstate New York very close to a large Amish (Old Order Mennonite) community. While Amish communities vary, this one is quite conservative. They do not use cars or tractors, and they do not use electricity. They wear blue or black clothes of a 19th century rural design. Their livelihood is farming or providing services for farming community. They seek to minimize dependency on the outside world.

The Amish are a fairly closed society, and one might assume that like many closed Christian societies in the world, they have no interest in sharing the Christian faith. I cannot speak for all Amish groups, and I can’t speak for all of the members of this particular community. However, some do share faith, particularly in written word.

One might assume that if one read such evangelistic literature, one might see long arguments why outsiders (sometimes labeled the “English”) should become Amish. Actually, that is not what this literature says. Often their writings explain who the Amish are, what is their history, and why they act different than others. However, when they give the gospel message, there is no call to become Amish.

The reasons for this is simple.
  1. Amish Christians realize that their sub-culture is extremely different from the culture around them.
  2. Amish Christians realize that it would be very difficult for people to gain the life skills and priorities shift to make the cultural leap.
  3. Amish Christians understand that there is a difference between God’s universal call and message to all peoples, and the basis for their own sub-culture and denomination.

Therefore, these Amish believers who shared their faith did not ask people to become Amish… but become faithful followers of Christ within their own cultural context.

The Amish example is difficult in practice, if a person comes to Christ through their ministry, it is hard for them to do discipleship. Another problem is that linking Christ and denomination is so rampant. Here in the Philippines, American, Australian, and Korean churches send missionaries here to reach out to (mostly nominal) Christians. What type of churches do they start?  They make american, australian, and korean churches. And that is what the Philippines mostly has… poorly run american, australian, and korean style churches that mimic the home denominations. Very few churches make an honest attempt to contextualize to the culture. Most of the one’s who have culturally adapted end up with deeply flawed theology.

Why is this? Does contextualization necessarily produce heterodoxy?  I don’t believe so.  If the denominational message and God’s message is given mixed together, how does one know which is which?  It is hard to tell. People accept the full message… producing uncontextualized churches. Others reject the denominational message but, confusing it with the God’s message, ends up rejecting much of God’s message… creating their own message instead.

I think we need to learn from the Amish here. By separating God’s message from their own denominational message, people are more open to accepting God’s message. Additionally, people are less likely to be confused about what God’s message is.

As Christians come into greater contact with people of other faith cultures, -Buddhists            -Hindus                        -Muslims            -Secularists -Neo-Pagans            -Post-Christians            -Atheists            -New Agers

we need to remove the confusion between God’s message and our own. If we have trouble knowing the difference, so will they.

An article that speaks more specifically about Amish Missions can be found HERE.

Another Kind of “Power Encounter”

Missionary Tom comes in and wants to start up a new ministry. Where does he go to get manned with the most competent, driven people? To other local ministries, of course. Tom has more money and so can lure the best people away from other local ministries. Maybe Tom’s group is effective, maybe it isn’t. It doesn’t matter. Even if he succeeds, he has done so at the expense of other groups.

A mission strategy used in some parts of the world (useful in some places, a waste of time in others) is power encounter. A missionary goes into an area and shows that God is more powerful than whatever local gods or spirits the people have. (More often, it is really “Volition Encounter”… but that is for a different post.) Sadly, some missionaries go in and employ their own form, a new kind of power encounter with local Christian ministries. They use money, local connections, and international connections to draw away people (or even resources) from local ministries for their own work. Missionaries develop a parasitic relationship to local churches and ministries.

All missionaries can be tempted by this… and I think it would be fair to say I have fallen into this trap at times. It understandable. Capable, trained, and motivated Christian workers are rare in the Philippines and most of these are very busy. Training new people is a gamble. But I have seen some extreme cases here. I have seen some missionaries who are VERY aggressive in trying to draw competent people away from other ministries… or try to slap their own name on the ministry or church that is succeeding. Some missionaries even come back and try to hurt the local ministry or give discouraging words to local Christians who turned down the lure of the missionary’s work.

Missionaries should build up good local ministries. They should encourage their growth and be willing to take on a helping (rather than governing) role in their development. Working with local ministries can build them up. Discipling believers and training them to serve can increase the missionaries own work without drawing down on other’s resources. Missionaries are supposed to fill a need, not try to justify their existence. Hurting other ministries to ensure your personal success is completely without justification.