Sarcastic titles may not be the greatest idea, but I got your attention no?
This is the message I picked up from the blog I stumbled upon today. I’m not into bashing, so please know I’m not trying to hate. I think the blog is worth a read and you should consider what’s being said, then make your own opinions without just adopting my experience as fact. (DUH. use your brain!)
Here’s the blog!
The concept is that white people go to Africa, take pictures and leave the place exactly like they came to it, rather than actually making a difference or positive impact like they set out to. I can’t tell you what I think about that, as I have done ZERO scientific research on the after effects of short term missions trips, or what kind of impact people actually make when they get there. What I can tell you is based on my international experiences. This blog is a series of photos posted of white people in (what looks like) Africa, then the administrators of the blog add some kind of snarky caption. It has (likely inadvertently) become a platform for bashing anyone who goes abroad.
“If you were serious about the mission you would fund the project instead of paying for airfare, food, lodging, and souvenirs. Oh, that’s right, the project is an excuse to stamp your passport and buy souvenirs”
These are some pretty far-end-of-the-scale blanket statements and growing up, I was always taught that blanket statements are made to be wrong. (which is a little bit ironic, but also true)
Here’s what I actually want to say:
You were not given privilege just to feel bad about it! Go! Go to Africa, or Asia, or Europe, or Australia and do what you think will help the world. Before you get there, learn (at least part of) the language and the cultural cliches/etiquette. While you’re there, look in to the eyes of the down and out, the dieing and the oppressed. Mourn with them for the injustice they have been subject to for the same reason you have been subject to privilege; you were each born to someone in a similar position. Before you walk away, ask them about their story. While you listen be inspired by their joy in spite of lack, by their courage to fight for life in conditions many would prefer death to. Be touched by this genuine soul who is sharing with you the singular most precious item they have – their story. They bare their soul to a stranger, because at the end of the day we all long for human connection. Despite hunger, thirst, physical pain, emotional wreckage, homelessness, disease, nakedness, disabilities, and the many other plagues that sweep most of the world, connecting with a person who genuinely and deeply cares for you can re-route your ship that is full sail toward destruction. If the only thing you do overseas is use enough of the language to connect with and encourage or uplift someone, I’d say that new stamp in your passport is pretty weighty. Hope is a powerful thing my friends, and we all posses the potential to release it.
What ever you do, DO NOT come home the same. Be changed by your experience. Be moved, and in turn move. Join a movement or organization, build awareness, raise funds, invent a useful tool for the situation you experienced, open your eyes to the same poverty here at home and know that you are changing the world. A mustard tree once sat very small in the hand of someone with hope, who planted and nurtured it. This tree now sustains the lives of many through food, shelter and means of commerce.
In closing, I have left the great United States of America, and while I was out I met people. I listened to them, cried with them, prayed with them and talked with them. One of these beautiful souls I met decided to become a follower of Christ. In the Christian world, that changes all of eternity and offers hope for hopeless situations. So while I didn’t build a library or haul in heaps of food, I am not a doctor who healed disease or an engineer who built a clean water well but I did deeply and positively impacted someones life. Isn’t that the point?