To download the original copy, please follow this link: News Update – October 2015
From this issue of News Update:
Sharing is a biblical mandate, as it is written: But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3:17, ESV).
In light of CIM’s partnership with Ghanaian and Togolese churches, how does this calling to share with others in need look like in the cross-cultural context?
We first need to understand our respective cultural values and lifestyles. African people, in general, are accustomed to sharing their possessions with others, for that is the way the community survives in the midst of difficult circumstances – they provide help to others knowing that they may need other’s assistance in the future. Conversely, Western people are not as inclined to share as their African counterparts, because most of them can afford to live independently; there usually isn’t that need to depend on other’s generosity to survive.
In the global context, how are Christians in the West, who possess most of the wealth in the world, to respond to other nations, like Africa, who have significantly less than them? Will the fair redistribution of wealth among God’s children across the nations actually help the people and the church?
Looking at the Bible, it speaks about a time when the Macedonia church brought aid to the saints and was “pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem” (Romans 15:25-26). As such, should western churches be following this model in contributing to meet the needs of poorer churches in Africa and other developing nations? Was the aid provided to address an economic development problem or for relief? How does that affect our plan of action?
So, “What has CIM been doing?” Understanding that even the best intention of charity can cause harm, like dependency from the recipient, CIM has been supporting the local churches in the form of ‘matching.’ In other words, we encourage and participate in the spirit of sharing through matching the amount the local church raises by 100% to 400% in order to reach their target. We strongly believe this type of giving allows them to look into their own resources and abilities while receiving support from brothers and sisters who wish to get involved.
While desiring to help, CIM, at the same time, guards against the risk of loss of local ownership in such a context. We intentionally choose not to fully fund ministry requests because that would steal the ownership of the ministry from the local community, and this type of giving is neither healthy for nor helpful to them.
CIM’s focus has never been about solely transferring funds to Africa. Through the voice of the African Christian community and personal experience, we’ve come to understand that the most needed thing in that continent is not money. If money was the issue, the United Nations, for instance, might have already done the job. Rather, it is friendship which embraces respect, care and, of course, sharing. Furthermore, the act of sharing ought to be based on giving and receiving in order for it to be meaningful. Through the STM ministry, CIM is making sharing between the Christians in the West and those in Africa possible. By way of our STM ministry, CIM has become the means of bringing people and resources to Africa and at the same time providing opportunity for our African brothers and sisters to ‘teach’ us how to live less materialistically, relating to each other more personally, and worshiping God more passionately and joyfully.
This is how we have made sharing a reality in the context of cross-cultural missions.
Rev. Philip Leung