Relief and Development

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Often on short term mission trips, visitors experience material poverty and it feels like a crisis situation because it is so different from what their living situation is. For the people living in material poverty, their situation is most likely a chronic situation and not a crisis situation. This is why understanding the difference between relief and development and when each is needed is so critical. Bob Lupton helps us understand this. Chronic Poverty is long term material poverty. A situation where a family or individual is in a state of material poverty over a long period of time. Crisis situations occur when an unexpected natural or man – made situation happens. A crisis can be measured by a 6 week cycle of stabilization; after 6 weeks the situation becomes chronic.

Some guidelines to consider from Bob Lupton:

 A CRISIS need demands RELIEF intervention (Think: an earthquake, tsunami, famine, war. The goal is to stop the bleeding.)

 A CHRONIC need requires DEVELOPMENT (Think: rebuilding homes, re-starting businesses, rebuilding infrastructure. We have to strengthen capacity.)

 Address a CRISIS need with CRISIS intervention and lives are saved. (Think: doctors and medical supplies to treat the wounded, food and water to feed the starving, tents to shelter the refuges, etc.)

 Address a CHRONIC need with a CRISIS intervention, and people are harmed. (Think: dependency increases, work-ethic erodes, dignity diminishes.)

Vision Trips

For the Love of Missions is starting to plan our 2018 Vision Trips. We are calling Mission Trips Vision Trips because our trips are more than a mission trip. When you travel with us to Guatemala, your vision of mission, poverty alleviation, God, His work in the world, and His work in your own life will change. In Guatemala you will visit urban and rural areas and meet all our partners, see their work first hand, build relationships, and participate in God’s ongoing work in these projects. We will be posting dates in order to start building teams soon so be in prayer if God is calling you to a trip!

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Poverty is more than material poverty which means it takes more than material resources to alleviate poverty. One of the ways North Americans demonstrate our lack of understanding of this is with Resource Paternalism. Brian Fikkert and Steve Colbert explain resource paternalism in When Helping Hurts, “Being from a materialistic culture, North Americans often view the solution to poverty in material terms and tend to pour financial and other material resources into situations in which the real need is for the local people to steward their own resources. In addition, local businesses can be undermined when outsiders bring in such things as free clothes, or building supplies, undercutting the price that these local businesses need to survive.”

Paternalism is doing for someone else what they can do for themselves. We can also make paternalistic assumptions about what is needed, what is causing problems (and the solutions), and even that we are the only ones who can help a situation. Fighting paternalism is trusting that God is working in all lives and that if we are patient we can see it and know where is our point of engagement.

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A few weeks ago, the families in the mentoring program learned to make both floor cleaning detergent and soap. The families started thinking about making extra to sell to their neighbors and friends to create additional income. As the mentors heard this discussion, they decided to spend some time teaching the families how to speak with confidence, explain the product, be motivated to sell (get out of their comfort zone) and all that goes into sales. While this motivational training may help the families to sell the soaps they have learned to make, the benefits of speaking with confidence, clearly explaining themselves, and getting out of their comfort zones will spread to other areas of their lives, increasing dignity and self-worth in the process.