Can we get real about missions for a minute? Most Americans I know and meet have a heart to help people in countries like Haiti. And as the wealthiest generation in human history, we should give willingly, regularly and generously to those whose basic needs – basic needs! – consistently go unmet. Too often, however, we’re not sure of the best way to help or which ministries/organizations we can trust to serve effectively. Our giving can go wrong. These “giving guidelines” may help you on this Giving Tuesday:
1. Make your giving gospel-centered. The heart of every problem in our world is the problem of the heart. That’s why individuals being rescued and discipled in the good news of Jesus provides the foundation for improved nutrition, healthcare, economy, infrastructure and government. We have to be crystal clear on the essential truths of the gospel (hence, PPI’s Course 2) and passionately committed to making disciples (hence, PPI Courses 3-5). Good deeds without the good news don’t last and, worse, too quickly go wrong. People need rescue by Christ, not just relief.
2. Give to provide a hand up, not just a handout. Let me say what we all know: Providing handouts may make the giver (us) feel good, but does the receiver little good. God created each of us in His own image to create, work and live with purpose. That’s why all of us need “the dignity of earned success,” as Wayne Grudem said in The Poverty of Nations. “Free” meals, clothes, houses, church buildings, books, etc. cost the receiver in dignity, initiative and opportunity. In nations like Haiti, handouts from the United States often undermine small businesses in the communities they’re meant to help. That’s why PPI doesn’t just give out Bibles. Church leaders earn Bibles as they complete our courses. Give to ministries/organization that empower people to solve their own problems biblically, creatively and persistently.
3. Give to those who are learning and partnering, rather than telling and doing.
A few years ago in Haiti, a group of young Americans interrupted our pastors training to recruit help in setting up their evangelistic event in the city park. Their pastor – also American – would be the key speaker. The Haitian pastor of our host church in the city is an amazing man of God. He is gifted, proven and widely respected in the city. He jumped up to help. I couldn’t help but think that we Americans should be serving behind the scenes to set up this evangelistic event for HIM to speak not an American! Our American god complex is real. Colonialism is real. We have so much to learn from brothers and sisters in Christ in nations like Haiti. The more we realize and practice humility and partnership, the more effective we will be in producing fruit that lasts.
4. Give to ministries/organizations with clear accountability and low administrative costs.
Vision is good, but ministries/organizations must be organized well and demonstrate clear financial accountability. Too often this goes wrong in mission ministries and NGOs that, on the surface, are doing good work. Dig deeper and ask questions before giving. Administrative costs should be no more than 10% of the organization’s total budget. Annual budgets and financial statements should be available for review, preferably 2-3 years of financial information. Checks and balances should be in place. We say at PPI that anyone is welcome to review all financial information with the exception of our supporters’ names and contact information. Be wise and be careful.
As Americans, we should give regularly and generously, but also wisely and strategically, to the Lord’s mission in the world. I hope these “giving guidelines” help you do that on this Giving Tuesday! GIVE TO PPI