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Is this really the best way to help?

June 30, 2011

Churches Helping Churches recently posted an entry reviewing their work over the last year. This paragraph caught my attention:

Church reconstruction: CHC donated 34 transitional structures in the aftermath of the earthquake, and then made plans to build 20 permanent structures and repair 40 other churches.  We’ve raised more than $100,000 through local Haitian church congregations to fund construction through our matching program.  That’s $100,000 from a nation where the average wage is about $2/day.

I am not even sure where to begin. They convinced Haitians to give $100,000 to build church buildings? They are going to match that with another $100,000? In a country where they just admitted the average wage is about $2/day, they are going to spend $200,000 to construct church buildings? Where is the logic there?

First, I do understand that both CHC and local Haitian churches are both coming from the worldview that churches must have buildings, but something has to give. In a post disaster zone where the people barely have enough money to live on, have little to no means of livelihood, and many are still living in tents, I don’t see how they can justify raising this kind of money to construct buildings. There is no way this is the best use of resources. If you were to ask a group of Haitian Christians what their most pressing needs were and in what priority, I doubt the first thing on the list would be a church building. There are more pressing needs. More permanent housing. Food. Jobs. Medical care. Education.

But church buildings? Come on.

$200,000 that is going to be completely inward focused. By inward focused I mean used just for the church. But how different it would be if instead of using it to build church buildings, the money was used to help build or invest in things that help both believers and non-believers?

This is going to do way more harm than good.

We must do better. We have to.

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