If you have offspring of a certain age, there’s a good chance that you are familiar with the 1988 children’s book The Way Things Work. It is described as an entertaining introduction to the way machines work. The book is atrociously heavy and it contains diagrams of mechanical stuff in terms that make me certain I am not smarter than a fifth grader. This is sort of The Way Sowers4Pastors Works blog post. It’s a hopefully entertaining introduction to the way they operate, minus any diagrams and talk of levers and the like.
Sometimes people have the misconception that Sowers4Pastors focuses on giving resources to one group. You may think that visiting teams go to the same areas and provide VBS programs to the same children over and over again. That would be a big nopety-nope. Honestly, that is the way some ministries operate. Fifteen visiting teams would mean that the same children were traipsing off to VBS fifteen times. Teams show up with goodies and that church gets blessed and blessed and blessed while the church down the road receives no attention. That’s just not Sowers4Pastors way.
They only do VBS programs in locations where no one else is working. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with sharing the Gospel to the same people more than once, there’s a reason we say, “spread the Gospel” and not “clump the Gospel in a big Gospel pile while ignoring others with needs.” Fifteen visiting teams are able to put on about 40 VBS programs at 40 unique sites. SPREADING not CLUMPING.
This is a very intentional decision. As Trish said, “We try to avoid negative things. When we see things that could cause harm, we avoid those things.”
You may be saying to yourself, “I understand the need to spread and not clump, but is clumping actually harmful to the recipient.” (If this blogpost did have diagrams, one would go right about here.)
Thank you for the thoughtful question you were mumbling under your breath. The short answer is that clumping can indeed be harmful to the recipients. But I’ve never been one for short answers, so hang on for the longer one.
During their twenty years as full-time missionaries, Allen and Trish have seen the danger of people getting to the point where they say, “I just count on the gringos to do things for me.”
Trish said, “We saw it on the island after Hurricane Mitch. We moved there a few years after the hurricane lived there for five years. There were people with the money to build a house who were still living in shacks built from debris. They were just waiting for the next team of gringos to come and build their houses. It’s one thing for that mentality to take over after a big hurricane. It’s another thing to set that up as a lifestyle for Christians. We don’t want to encourage the mentality that we’re here to do everything for you.”
This is not a new sentiment. You’ve heard it in relation to church construction projects, motorcycles for pastors, and everything else Sowers4Pastors does. Teams may visit the same Manna program to see how things operate or to see their sponsored children, but not to do a VBS. If teams are a part of the sister church program, they start there. If a location isn’t in the sister church program, they are set up with non sister church teams.
Some missionaries have one pastor and congregation that they help over and over again. The pastors become so Americanized that they are not as effective in serving the people of Honduras. Allen told a story of gringos who paid for a Honduran pastor to travel with his family for training in the States. When the pastor and his family came back, they couldn’t live as Hondurans. Now, he spends most of his time fundraising to support his family’s Americanized tastes. Obviously, this was not the intention of the missionaries. They sent him to the States because he was an on-fire pastor and evangelist - but they made him ineffective in the long run.
Allen closed by saying, “We try to be wise in the way we’re sharing resources. We never want to have a pet pastor.”
And, there you have it. That’s the way Sowers4Pastors works.
-posted by Christi
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