Toxic Charity

After reading Robert D. Lupton’s book, I felt very discouraged. I’ve done two youth group mission trips, each a week long. The first trip was to Philadelphia and the second to Atlanta. We worked 8am to 5pm every day, doing charitable things that were new to me and I felt like we were making such huge differences in people’s lives. But after having read Toxic Charity, I think we only did a few things right according to Lupton. We participated in helping food co-ops, and helped start community gardens in urban residence areas that I didn’t realize were the “good kind of charity” versus the “bad kind of charity” which we also participated in. A task often performed by members in my youth group is giving out free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water bottles to people on the street. Obviously I can tell that this is a direct hand out, but we do it so sporadically that I don’t think people can become dependent on it. What really stuck out to me, though, were food banks. My church has an active food bank. I am absolutely NOT 100% sure, but I think it’s just your average food bank were you receive the food with no cost to you. If it is, I would really like to look into turning it into more of a co-op situation where there a minimal membership dues. Doing so seems overwhelming but not impossible if you have the right leadership. If I try, I might be able to get the ball rolling on that one.

I think we’ve really got to focus on “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” saying. We hear it a lot but I don’t think we really take it into consideration. If we go into other countries to perform mission work, I think we have got to focus on teaching, not doing. Micro-loans have seemed to work wonders, especially in the examples in the books so we need to make these good ideas more common knowledge. I thought it was crazy that business people would go into mission work and leave all their business knowledge behind. We need to connect people’s specialties to the work that they want to do in helping others.

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