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Missionaries In Africa Doing More Harm Than Good?

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posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 04:21 PM
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Inspired by this post, I decided to explore how many missionaries are actually in Africa?




Missionaries In Africa Doing More Harm Than Good?

DONNELLY: So, the scope is amazing. If you step back a little bit, there are thousands and thousands of Americans of all faiths who go to Africa because they have this big heart and big ideas, and they really know what they want to do before they go, most of them. I went on a plane after deciding to do this. And I looked around the plane and I saw these groups of people wearing the same color t-shirts.

And I went up to some of them and I said: What are you doing? And all these groups were going from different churches or synagogues to go help people in Africa. And I went back to my friend, and I said, you know, we're on the right plane. And it turned out, just about every plane is the right plane, because people are going all the time.

MARTIN: How big is the scope of the missionary presence in Africa, particularly from America? And can you compare it to the efforts of, say, the NGOs that people may know a little better, like Doctors Without Borders or something like that?

DONNELLY: Right. So it's far, far bigger. It's far, far bigger, actually, than the U.S. government in terms of money. The U.S. government, in its big global AIDS program, which is now - it's being focused on in Washington next week. It gave $1.6 billion to help orphans in Africa over the last eight, nine years. Churches alone in the U.S. give more - much, much more than that every year to programs in Africa.

The United Methodist Church, every year, trains 400,000 people to go on mission trainings. So it's this sort of grass roots movement of people trying to help.




I didn't realized how BIG missionary presence might be in Africa. (Still looking for actual numbers....)

Donnelly continues:



DONNELLY: Well, first of all, I don't want to be critical of this incredible movement. I think it's very important that Americans go and have this passion they do. It's amazing they do it. I just wish they would be amazingly effective, as well. So what happens is - and I saw this over and over and over again. Americans feel like they know better than people in different countries in Africa. And they feel like they've made money. They've put together programs. They've been successful in their communities, and so therefore it should work.

But when you go into a foreign country, you really have to learn from local people about what is best.

MARTIN: Is your main criticism of these efforts that people don't listen, that people who live in these areas have a pretty good sense of what they think will work? Or is it that they don't even listen to best practices, they don't even listen to the experiences of the people who've gone before to try to optimize their efforts?

DONNELLY: I think it's both. I think they don't ask. People should go with open minds, and they don't. And they often don't ask people on the ground, or they have one partner on the ground that does that. There are these short-term mission groups that go with one project. They build a house. They do something. That's great. But for the longer-term efforts, I think you really have to understand the culture first.



Fascinating, don't you think?


edit on 1-8-2014 by loam because: (no reason given)




posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 04:31 PM
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a reply to: loam

Hello Loam. Nice to speak with you. Im reminded of an analogy about missionary work:

There were several missionaries who went to the jungle to teach the natives about birth control, and the proper way to use condoms. The lecture went very well.

A year or so later...they returned to that village and noticed there were little babies everywhere, but the village was very very clean and tidy.

Every broom in the village...had...yep! Can you guess the end here? The brooms all had condoms on the handles!!!

Just shows that the Missionaries best of intentions can fall on deaf ears when there is a lack of understanding!



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 04:40 PM
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Here are some interesting statistics:




The CSGC reports that "of the ten countries sending the most missionaries in 2010, three were in the global South: Brazil, South Korea, and India." Other notable missionary senders included South Africa, the Philippines, Mexico, China, Colombia, and Nigeria.

However, the United States still tops the chart by far in terms of total missionaries, sending 127,000 in 2010 compared to the 34,000 sent by No. 2-ranked Brazil.

But examine the data differently—in terms of missionaries sent per million church members—and Palestine comes out on top at 3,401 sent, followed by Ireland, Malta, and Samoa. (Interestingly, South Korea ranks No. 5 at 1,014 missionaries sent per million church members, a sign of the continued strength of its missions movement compared to the No. 9-ranked United States at 614 missionaries sent).

The CSGC says U.S. dominance is part of a persistent missions imbalance: "The 10 countries that sent the most international missionaries in 2010 were home to 32 percent of the world's church members but sent almost 73 percent of all international missionaries."

Link.



And this little interesting tidbit:




The country that received the most missionaries in 2010? The United States, with 32,400 sent from other nations.



Well, you learn something new everyday.




posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 04:40 PM
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There are these short-term mission groups that go with one project. They build a house. They do something. That's great. But for the longer-term efforts, I think you really have to understand the culture first.


I watched a docu about a lady who was studying how we learn, she was researching better ways to help children learn and most of her work was in Africa.
I remember she said -


When I go to another country to do my research I first have to become the student. Only then can I start my own work.



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 04:42 PM
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Why don't they first turn their sights to helping the poor, uneducated, sick, dying or disenfranchised in their own countries? Maybe they do...? Often they raise money to go, couldn't they just donate the money locally and volunteer?

I've had people tell me of their missionary travels to other countries. It's almost always accompanied by pictures of exotic locales, stories of their sight-seeing, meals, etc. Several have come back sick.

I'm all for bringing third world countries into the 21st century, hell bring them into the 20th century. But it seems more practical to give money and let in-country charities manage it than to send strangers to a strange land. Even now, some of the humanitarian aid workers in the Ebola affected zones are being accused of witchcraft, etc.

I haven't even touched on the evangelical aspects of it, which I find offensive.

I don't know, the whole phenomenon just fascinates me.

Thanks for the thread Loam!


ETA:

a reply to: loam




The country that received the most missionaries in 2010? The United States, with 32,400 sent from other nations.



Whaaat!? LOL! Now that seems like a dodgey fact right there. Who are these people? Where are these people? What exactly are they doing.

edit on 8/1/2014 by kosmicjack because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 04:44 PM
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So the point of this is? ... We should send more foreign aid to Africa? and stop sending charity money? I'm sure the US government would love the excuse to tax us more.



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 04:56 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Don't know how you arrived there. The point of this thread is to learn more about the subject and discuss the possible impacts.

a reply to: kosmicjack


originally posted by: kosmicjack
Whaaat!? LOL! Now that seems like a dodgey fact right there. Who are these people? Where are these people? What exactly are they doing.


Good question. I have no idea.



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 05:05 PM
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Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.

Just like a good parent gives their child support and teaches them things, the proper way to help anoher country is not to financially support them, but to teach them how to do things on their own.

The US has all but destroyed farming in numerous countries by supplying aid. Why? Because free food is always going to win over locally grown food, so the farmers go out of business.

AFRICANS are the ones who need to make a difference in their own nations, until that happens, nothing will ever get better.

And guess who needs to make a difference in America.... that's right, AMERICANS. I find it foolish and offensive to fly off to a foreign country to "help" and spread your religion while America sinks faster every day.



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 05:12 PM
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a reply to: loam

It just seems like a very judgmental article. Maybe not every mission group is the most efficient, but they try to help. Are they really the root cause of the problem? If every missionary in Africa were suddenly stopped, would the country be a paradise within 10 years? Somehow I seriously doubt it.

Most of the time, mission work involves trying to help out with whatever you can wherever you can. Usually it's humanitarian aid or community service projects, and yes, it often includes church work and sometimes proselytizing. You can go and serve a mission even in your own country, so perhaps some of those missionaries you see above are from the US to the US.



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 05:17 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko

A fair point.

In fact, even the original article says:




MARTIN: At the end of the day, John Donnelly - because I know you are a journalist, but you did come to conclusions about this. Do you think that this large presence of missionaries is doing more harm than good, or more good than harm?

DONNELLY: I think the totality is they're more good than harm. However, they are nowhere near as effective as they could be. There needs to be - and the churches and synagogues and mosques will hate this word - but sort of coordination and partnership with groups. They need to understand what countries are doing, and they need to sort of fit into what best practices and what works.



Just adds perspective, don't you think?



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 05:42 PM
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a reply to: loam

Yes, but it's very difficult to coordinate and work together in the method you describe. It's not like there is a "missionary international" matching service online or something.




posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 05:44 PM
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originally posted by: 8675309jenny
Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.

Just like a good parent gives their child support and teaches them things, the proper way to help anoher country is not to financially support them, but to teach them how to do things on their own.


The U.S. and other western nations don't have the best interest in mind for third world countries. They like the current global political hierarchy and will forever make sure it stays that way one way or another.

So they prefer the aid they send is conditioning them live on handouts. "We'll stop foreign aid if you don't do this." Also they do things like this:

en.wikipedia.org...


Perkins' function was to convince the political and financial leadership of underdeveloped countries to accept enormous development loans from institutions like the World Bank and USAID. Saddled with debts they could not hope to pay, those countries were forced to acquiesce to political pressure from the United States on a variety of issues.



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 05:45 PM
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Don't missionaries typically also introduce disease to people who have never had disease or been vacinated?

www.survivalinternational.org...

And in current news, I suppose, now bring disease back home?
edit on 8/1/2014 by ~Lucidity because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 05:50 PM
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I find it quite amazing that people are complaining that the missionaries, short or long term are making mistakes.

Whats this really about, the hate of missionaries or the poor financial agenda.

The national government of my country are a financial basket case with no idea how to manage public funds, so I have a right to complain.
Missionaries are using private funds, so what gives some people the right to complain about how missionaries waste their money.

I have been on a short term trip to Cambodia, where in my time there we helped purchase a small block of land to build a school...wasted money?
This was to go along with the other three schools that had been built, also the other 30 odd homes for the parents of the children who came from the slums along the Mekong, the poor who were and are being displaced due to western investment.

Its utterly amazing how some sit back in judgement and complain, would I be safe in believing they do very little other than judge?


Oh we taught the kids english and maths, a small hedge to keep them out of prostitution and enslavement, you know slavery.
Oh and the kicker, we also taught them Jesus loves them and they are valued


Oh and did I stay in a nice place and eat good food and site see, yes I did.
I was spending my money and wanted to help serve people at the same time as holiday, is that not allowed.

Would some prefer I went to Bali and got drunk every night, certainly sounds like it
edit on b2014Fri, 01 Aug 2014 18:09:32 -050083120145pm312014-08-01T18:09:32-05:00 by borntowatch because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 06:24 PM
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Those that go on "missions" do so for their own enjoyment and self righteous motivations. My suggestion, if you want to go on holiday go and put your money into their economy, relax and enjoy the culture. If you want to help the poor and needy just go down to the nearest shelter in your own country or sign up for Habitat and build someone a house down the street. You know, that whole pull the beam out of your own eye first thing.
edit on 8/1/2014 by usertwelve because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 06:44 PM
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a reply to: borntowatch

This isn't really a subject I know very much about.

But I think everyone generally hears of the good some projects do....rarely the 'mistakes' as you put it.

I think that's worth understanding too, don't you?



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 07:01 PM
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a reply to: borntowatch

You raise some excellent points.

But I still do think there are opposing purposes for so-called "humanitarian" work - genuine humanitarianism, religious evangelism, adventure and political.

And, when it comes to religious evangelism - isn't it kind of like answering a question no one asked?



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 07:06 PM
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a reply to: borntowatch
Lets go back in time several hundred years, and ask the Mayan's(among others) how they felt about Jesus disciples coming to their land, and helping the poor little heathens? I'm sure they would laud the fine treatment they got, which destroyed a culture, and the vast majority of their written history.

If missionaries want to go help people in other countries instead of cleaning up their own house first, they should keep Jesus to themselves, and do what they claim they went there to do. Help.

Imho, of course.

edit on 8/1/2014 by Klassified because: edit



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 07:17 PM
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I'm still looking for the best way to present this material, but after reading several blogs written by missionaries, it seems clear they are heavily resented.

Perhaps this one entry sums it up:




Creator of Theology in Africa, Louis Krog writes:

The resulting resentment was captured by Itumeleng Mosala in his iconic summary of the situation: “When the white man came to our country he had the Bible and we had the land. The white man said to us ‘Let us pray’. After we opened our eyes, the white man had the land and we had the Bible” (Mofokeng 1988:34). Such was the gravity of the situation that the Rev. John Gatu, the then General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, suggested that the solution to the problem of western missionaries “…can only be solved if missionaries can be withdrawn in order to allow a period of not less than five years for each side to rethink and formulate what is going to be the future relationship” (Kato:1974).

Well this raises a very important issue. When in Africa, I’ve noticed that missionaries (myself included) and Africans seem most often to have very strained relations.

Link.


edit on 1-8-2014 by loam because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2014 @ 07:23 PM
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Double post.
edit on 1-8-2014 by loam because: (no reason given)




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