Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Christmas Boxes - How Effective?

I was just asked this question after a seminar I had recently given: "What is keeping the recipients of "Christmas boxes" in poor countries from selling the boxes?"
J.O. Fraser - Missionary to China - used to refuse giving anything away for free - even Bibles. He found that when Bibles were given away free, the people usually just went and sold it to someone who really wanted it. When he sold them (at a greatly reduced price) the owner saw it as something of value. Something to keep and to treasure.
Many gifts we westerners give to the poor are taken straight to the market and sold. It is not a bad thing that a Bible is now for sale in the market that previously had none. But it is not a good thing, when Orphans take the shirts that a church gives them, sells them in the market, and uses the money for prostitutes (Real story).
Gifts dumped on anybody without a real relationship accompanying them usually are taken for granted.
I personally had a blast one time dropping the Jesus Film DVD's all over a Muslim city. Soon copies were made and they were for sale in the Market. I was happy for that. The message was going out.
But gifts of clothes, shoes, goodies, teddy bears - that are detached from a real relationship that mirrors Jesus - though perhaps - a good thing - is not the best way to go. Our gifts of used clothes to Africa can actually put the local African tailors out of work!!
Remember give where there is Real Relationship. Either where you have the real relationship, or through a friend you know that is there living among those you are giving to.
So as far as an answer to the question: "What is keeping the recipients of "Christmas boxes" in poor countries from selling the boxes?" That is a great question to ask the organization who is handing them out. You should ask them. But better yet, find a missionary you know, and give through them. And another sure bet - get into the lives of the needy around you - and let your gift to them be an expression of a loving relationship you have with them. You just can't go wrong here. Go deep. Give. Give smart.
Justs got this letter from a guy working in Africa that makes this point once again:
Hello Jonathan, Thanks for the email. I got the book back from my teammate and she raved about it... I read the first part of it and you Mexico story killed me... I see the same over here. We organized all these presents to be sent over for this orphanage, and we never saw the presents again. Any of them... We think they either were forced to sell them or the older kids
sold them. It is so hard how money can be misused... Anyway, thanks for your words...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Getting serious about making a lasting difference

This is the place for you to ask questions. Leave your comments and questions and I will post them and answer them to the best of my ability and by talking to those I know around the world that are experts.