4 Year Anniversary brings….Stories from Honduras

September 15th marked exactly 4 years we have lived in Honduras.  It has been a long, hard journey with many tough, sad days.  We know we have mentioned since before we moved here how passionate we are about Asset Based Community Development, Helping WITHOUT Hurting, HOLISTIC development, increasing transparency, and decreasing dependency.  True holistic poverty alleviation with long term positive results.  Some of the saddest times over the past 4 years have been watching and LIVING with the consequences of dependency that has been created over the past 50+ years of international aid in Honduras.  We have heard so many people say, “this can’t possibly hurt, it has to be right” – only to watch first-hand how that action caused a ripple or WAVE of hurt in a person and/or community over time.

We would like to dedicate our posts the rest of this year 2015 to stories.  We will change names and locations to protect the identities, but trust us when we say these are true, first-hand stories we have experienced living in and among Hondurans the past 4 years.

If you haven’t started to self-educate about how to really “help without hurting” to strengthen you in your personal ministry (domestic or international), personal knowledge, and/or to understand our philosophy and what we do better - here is a list of books to get you started:
  • When Helping Hurts and Helping without Hurting in Short Term Missions – Steven Corbett and Brian Fikkert
  • Walking with the Poor – Bryant  Myers
  • Two Ears of Corn – Roland Bunch
We will start with a small peek into what we believe about poverty and then allow the stories to speak for themselves over the next few months. 

We believe that the definition of poverty is “a broken relationship.”

Image from The Chalmers Center website.
Poverty can be a broken relationship between us and God, us and others, us and creation, or us and ourselves.  If I am not well with God, I have spiritual poverty.  If I am not well with others I have social or emotional poverty.  If I am not well with creation (environment, jobs, etc.) I have material poverty.  Etc. Etc. 

Most of us have heard our whole lives that “poverty” = lack of or low level of material possessions.  People in third world countries are “poor,” we have some “poor” in our inner cities, but “we” in middle class America are not “poor.”

We believe this is false.  We believe we all are poor. 

And as soon as we can realize that, we can realize
  1. No one is better than another, and
  2. Christ is the ONLY savior.  We cannot “save” (for heaven or out of poverty) each other. We can and should "love and spur one another onto love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).  Not one of us are “Saviors,” only Christ can do that work.
We can see throughout scripture that Christ is all about holistic poverty alleviation.  The reconciliation of ALL things, restoring “broken relationships.” Colossians 1:15-23

Our goal is to see Hondurans to let go of their International Aid “saviors” and find their only Savior in Christ. This requires a coordinated effort on the part of the church. We must lovingly, compassionately, patiently, and very intentionally engage our Latin American brothers and sisters in a way that inspires and encourages them to move forward without trapping them in a cycle of dependency or creating a god-complex that traps us as well. This means our work will not normally start and end with a material intervention, but will require a long-term intensive relationship that will be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and likely frustrating, but could result in holistic liberation of ourselves and our brothers and sisters.

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