Tuesday 2 April 2024

Humanity Care--UPGs and SDGs 26


Global Integration Updates 
Special News--January 2024
Issue 91
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 Global Integration Updates
Common Ground for the Common Good 
Be the people we need--Build the world we need

Special News--January 2024
Why the "M" Word Matters

Rethinking Missionaries and Development

The Christian Medical College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India was founded in 1900 by missionary Dr. Ida Scudder. It is a Christian institute with an extensive network of primary, secondary, and tertiary care along with a community-based hospital, medical school, and research program. The main hospital has nearly 2500 beds and provided services to more than 2 million outpatients and over 100,000 inpatients plus recorded more than 14,500 births (stats from April 2016-March 2017). The image above is of the Hospital Campus.

Personal Perspectives
Missionaries. Just saying the word can evoke strong negative reactions and a string of pejorative associations like archaic, irrelevantproselytizersculture destroyers,  converters,  fanaticsagenda-imposers, and bigots, among many other unbecoming if not scathing terms. In many places it is easier--and safer--to drop the F-bomb than it is to use the "M" word.

For those of us in Christian mission, it can be tempting (under the guise of being "prudent"--which certainly has its merit at times) to find other terms to allay such negative reactions by partially describing or even obfuscating who we are and what we do and support. Examples are focusing on more generic and acceptable self-descriptors such as our being faith-based and culturally-sensitiveworking inter-faith and collaboratively across sectors, etc.

In our case, the older we get, the easier it is to simply say we are Christians. Or followers of Christ. Period. And then we might add that we are working (in mission and) across sectors as psychologists. And to that we might also add something like we are focusing on the wellbeing and effectiveness of (mission workers and other) international personnel in support of the SDGs. Yet even though we did not use the "M" word, people may still walk away using this loaded term to summarily describe who we are and what we do.

That's OK. Because as  seen in this Update, historically and generally there is much to admire in the sacrifice and contributions of missionaries and other people of faith towards human development. Health, education, economic livelihoods, gender equality, morality and ethics, are but a few of these contributions. So let's set the record straight--or at least straighter--about missionaries! --Kelly


In this Update (#91), we share a few materials to (re)consider the positive impact of missionaries and Christian mission on human wellbeing and development. They not only make for "interesting" reading but also hopefully challenge us all to rethink and (re)affirm these contributions. 

In stating this purpose, though, we are in no wise downplaying the past and current examples of destructive and inexcusable actions by the Church and mission sector, including sexual abuse and exploitation, alignment with state efforts to colonize indigenous peoples, and reinforcing "rice Christians" by basing aid and development on adopting the Christian faith. The resources in this Update will surely provide lots of material for reflection, discussion, and debate. Here are the five main ones:

The World the Missionaries Made (2018), video presentation by Robert Woodbury
2. Progressive Pentecostalism, Development, and Christian Development NGOs (2015)article by Bryant Myers 
The Missionary Approach to Development Interventions (2018), article by Misean Cara
Making a Killing: The Global Death Industries and Missionary Response (2019) special issue of Mission Frontiers
5: Three examples of our Global Integration Updates on faith-based and inter-faith cooperation focusing on the wellbeing of all people and the planet. 

We conclude the Update with some personal perspectives on being "people of faith-hope-love" in the Christian tradition who embrace "common ground for the common good." It is an inclusive approach which encourages active partnership with a diverse group of colleagues on behalf of wellbeing for all people and the planet.

Suggested Applications--Making It Personal

  • Review the materials below. What other scholarly materials would you recommend that address missionaries and development
  • Probe further by reading or watching one of more of the materials. What do you think of the assertions and conclusions
  • Reflect on the opening perspectives and quotes in the Update. Are there things with which you agree or disagree or want to adjust or add?
  • Share this Update with your colleagues, organization(s), and network(s). Discuss any shifts in your thinking and practical applications for your life and work.
See these Global Integration Updates:

Warm greetings,
Kelly and Michèle


Featured Resources
Why the "M" Word Matters
Rethinking Missionaries and Development

"In parts of Africa where bandits and warlords shoot or rape anything that moves, you often find that the only groups still operating are Doctors Without Borders and religious aid workers: crazy doctors and crazy Christians. In the town of Rutshuru in war-ravaged Congo, I found starving children, raped widows, and shell-shocked survivors. And there was a determined Catholic nun from Poland, serenely running a church clinic...she was passionately “pro-life” even for those already born—and brave souls like her are increasingly representative of religious conservatives. We can disagree sharply with their politics, but to mock them underscores our own ignorance and prejudice.“ Nicholas Kristof. Evangelicals a Liberal Can LoveNew York Times (3 February 2008)


1. The World the Missionaries Made (10 January 2018) is a presentation by Robert Woodbury at the Center for Faith and Culture. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in the USA. “What kind of impact have missionaries made on the world? Have they harmed the world by merely exporting western values, or have they improved the world? Robert Woodberry addressed these questions and more...

By examining historical patterns and statistics between 1820 and 1920, he explains how missionaries have influenced healthcare, education, printing, social reform, economic development and democracy. Missionaries made an overall positive impact, he argues. For example, Christians were the first to pursue educational opportunities for all people, regardless of their socio-economic status. They brought mass printing to places that had never had it.

‘Christianity has profoundly shaped what we consider to be modernity,’ Woodberry said. Woodberry is the director of the Project on Religion and Economic Change, associate professor of political science at the National University of Singapore and visiting fellow at the University of Notre Dame. His research uses both historical and statistical methods to analyze the long-term effects of Protestant and Catholic missionaries on the societies where they worked.”

See also:
The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy (2014). Robert Woodbury. American Political Science Review 106 (2): 244-74.
The Surprising Discovery about Those Colonialists, Proselytizing Missionaries (10 January 2014). Christianity Today.

2. Progressive Pentecostalism, Development, and Christian Development NGOs (July 2015) is an article by Bryant Myers. "Something unusual happened in the Global South in the late 1980s and 1990s. A new expression of Pentecostalism arose that was distinguished by a combination of Pentecostal worship, aggressive evangelism, and grassroots efforts to provide education, health services and other relief, and development ministries. The phenomenon has attracted the attention of secular scholars. Their research makes the claim that, in five instances, these churches were better positioned and more effective in development work than international NGOs at work in the same city. This article will describe and assess these findings and then apply them to Christian development NGOs." (opening paragraph of the article)

See also:
Some Myths about Faith-Based Humanitarian Aid (July 14, 2004) Wilfred Mlay (World Vision International). Humanitarian Practice Network (issue 27 article 15)
Partnering as Faith-Based People and Organizations (6 April 2019) Kelly and Michele O'Donnell. International Trauma Collaborative, Multnomah University USA

Summary Table--Key Characteristics of the MADI framework. Misean Cara (page iii)

3. The Missionary Approach to Development Interventions (MADI): Conceptual Framework and Current Development Context (July 2018) is an article by Misean Cara, a Christian development organization based in Ireland. 

Christian Inspiration and Ethos
"Missionary development projects all take their ultimate inspiration from the Christian values, ethos and approaches of the organisations that implement them. Core principles and concepts such as human dignity, social justice, option for the poor, solidarity, subsidiarity and care for creation are fundamental to the way in which projects are designed and implemented for the benefit of poor, vulnerable and marginalised people throughout the world. Projects are also influenced by the particular key commitment or ‘charism’ (spiritual gift) of the implementing congregation. Some, such as Misean Cara members, further emphasise the related core values of respect, justice, commitment, compassion and integrity." (page 1)

The Unique Approach of Missionaries
"The approach of missionaries to development work is defined by five features that, when taken in combination, describe a way of working that is unique to missionaries when compared to the approaches of other development agencies, including the approaches of other faith-based organisations (FBOs). These five features are as follows: 1) Crossing boundaries in a whole variety of ways, as a global missionary movement of great scale and diversity 2) A long-term commitment and local presence on the ground where projects are being implemented; 3) A personal witness of commitment to Christian and missionary values; 4) A prophetic vision that inspires missionaries to take action to address community problems, even when the outcome is uncertain or unclear; and 5) A holistic (whole of person) approach towards working with individuals." (page 1)
"Other FBOs also take their inspiration from the same Christian values, but many of the international bodies amongst them do not commit themselves to a long-term presence on the ground. Other Christian organisations have their own diocesan and parish structures locally, but do not necessarily link to international networks or structures. Missionaries go beyond borders, cross boundaries and operate on a global basis, seeing the world as one place, while at the same time being fully embedded in the local community." (page 1)

See also:
The Missionary Approach to Development: Ensuring Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education for the Most Marginalized (2022). Jenny Ackermann, Casey Eamonn, Seamus Collins, Anthony Hannon, and on behalf of Misean Cara. 2022Environmental Sciences Proceedings 15, no. 1: 26. 
How the Missionary Approach to Development Interventions (MADI) Addresses the Concept of Reaching the Furthest Behind First (FBF) (January 2021). Misean Cara.

4. Making a Killing: The Global Death Industries and Missionary Response (September 2019) is a special issue of Mission Frontiers edited by Rebecca Lewis. 
“[This issue] focuses on the “death industries,” which are a handful of global industries that together directly result in almost two-thirds of global deaths. The lead editorial gives an overview of the historic connection between evangelicals, revivals, social transformation and addressing evil. It outlines four specific “death industries” which will, in various ways, be discussed in this issue of MF.”
The 'death industries' are a handful of global industries that together directly result in almost two-thirds of global deaths. Yes, two thirds of all deaths every year, and these particular deaths are fully preventable. Having lived on five continents from Latin America to North Africa to India, I have personally seen that millions of people God loves are being dragged down to death by these lucrative industries.
Unfortunately, missionaries and other believers with no money in the game are often the only ones willing to take a stand against them. We hope to encourage all believers to repent, pray and have the courage to bring a gospel of both hope and freedom, as has happened in the past. We also hope to galvanize expat evangelical workers to confront issues that cause so much suffering in the people groups they serve and to help families avoid misery and death.” (Opening overview and editorial by Rebecca Lewis)

Two of the articles:
What's Killing Us?

The Addiction Industries:  Reform Efforts and the Unique Role of Missionaries

5: Three examples of our Global Integration Updates on faith-based and inter-faith cooperation for the wellbeing of all people and the planet. 

Final Thoughts
"Religion and faith, as we know, have a central place for most people in our world—including many “persons and communities of concern,” staff, organizations, governments, and donors. Faith-based people are thus often mainstream contributors and partners--and not marginal players--when it comes to the efforts to transform the world. The emphasis on personal transformation (including virtue and moral integrity) is often an important added contribution from the faith-based sector." 
Global Integration Update (August 2015)

Personal Reflections
Being People of Faith-Hope-Love

California Coastline USA--Image courtesy and © ENOD 2016

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.
This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1964

As people of faith who practice Christian spirituality, we are committed to responsibly engage with others in the challenges facing our world, locally through globally, while holding firmly to our belief that we are in God's hands. We pray that God's purposes "will be done on earth as they are in heaven;" acknowledge that prayer, repentance, and relationship with God are key to human-planetary wellbeing; and live in hope for the time when God through Jesus Christ will decisively intervene in human history with equity--righteousness and justice--to restore all things. And in the meantime, we seek to embrace lifestyles of integrity that prioritize a deep, practical love for truth, peace, and people--and this includes being willing to acknowledge, resist, and confront evil in its many forms (starting with ourselves, etc.).

We do not want to further problematize our world's plight by focusing primarily on the negative. Rather we want to also promote the many examples of the good going forward, as people of integrity find common ground for the common good.

Finally, we want to highlight that the despair and disillusion that result from seemingly intractable problems like corruption can also be quite positiveThey can embody a crucial existential message about reality that can be "revisited"--explored and heeded--rather than simply "resisted." They can point us to Someone who is bigger than ourselves, the SDGs, humanity, and our world--the knowable, Eternal One who is both in and beyond space-time and who loves us all dearly. 

The above thoughts build upon the Personal Reflections in Perils, Paralysis, Hope: Sustainable Development-Sustainable Destruction? (Global Integration Update, October 2022).

Member Care Associates

Member Care Associates Inc. (MCA) is a non-profit, Christian organization working internationally from Geneva and the USA. MCA's involvement in Global Integration focuses on the wellbeing and effectiveness of personnel and their organizations across sectors (e.g., mission, humanitarian, peace, health, and development sectors) as well as global mental health and integrity/anti-corruption, all with a view towards collaboratively supporting sustainable development for all people and the planet. Our services include consultation, training, research, resource development, and publications.
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Global Integration
Global Integration (GI) is a framework for actively and responsibly engaging in our world--locally to globally. It emphasizes connecting relationally and contributing relevantly on behalf of human wellbeing and the issues facing humanity, in light of our integrity, commitments, and core values (e.g., ethical, humanitarian, human rights, faith-based). GI encourages a variety of people to be at the “global tables” and in the "global trenches"--and everything in-between--in order to help research, shape, and monitor agendas, policies, and action for all people and the planet. It intentionally links building the world we need with being the people we need.
Our Global Integration Updates are designed to help shape and support the emerging diversity of global integrators who as learners-practitioners are committed to the "common ground for the common good." 2015-current (85+ issues). Some examples of foundational ones:

June 2017
Living in Global Integrity--April 2017
Peace and Security--December 2016
Global Citizenship--June 2016
Faith-Based Partners in Transformation--August 2015

Global Pearl
The Global Integration image used in this Update (the global pearl) is a cover detail from our edited book, 
Global Member Care (volume 2): Crossing Sectors for Serving Humanity (2013). William Carey Library. 
Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability;
it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be coworkers with God,
and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. 

Martin Luther King, Jr., 
Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 1963)

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