fbpx
31.8 F
Spokane
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
HomeNewsDoing Good Work? Virtual Tour Guatemala Offers Insights & Discussion On The...

Doing Good Work? Virtual Tour Guatemala Offers Insights & Discussion On The Current State of Mission Work

Date:

Related stories

Former Incarcerated Drug Addict Ministers to Spokane Homeless with Food, Clothing and Jesus

Daniel Aga launched Mighty to Save Ministries after spending several years in jail himself and becoming a Christian while there. He said he had a fire in his "heart to give" what he had received to the those living on the streets of Spokane.

Gonzaga Professors Win Grant to Enhance Children of the Sun Trail in NE Spokane

Professors Katy Roden and Greg Gordon of Gonzaga University recently received a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in order to create a public platform exploring the history, culture and ecology of Northeast Spokane.

Whitworth Campus Ministries Pressured to Step Off the ‘Narrow Ridge’

The conflation of theological beliefs and political beliefs is not unique to Whitworth University. Mark Killian, who specializes in sociology of religion at Whitworth, said that religion and politics “have always been intertwined.” Read how Whitworth walks this "narrow ridge" by not taking political stances.

FāVS Religion News Roundup: Feb. 23

Read about a new choir ensemble taking off in the community through Whitworth, a controversial curriculum that hasn't event passed the state legislature already being opposed in a local school district and legal education forum for LGBTQ+ advocacy hosted by Gonzaga in this week's FāVS News Roundup.

Spokane Ministry Buys Strip Club to Expand Trafficking Victim Services

Now, this non-profit Christian ministry is expanding with the recent purchase of Déjà Vu Showgirls strip club in Spokane Valley. The club was put on the market in August 2023, about two months before HC began looking for a larger, secure space to add a new outpatient clinic in the middle of town and on a bus line.

Doing Good Work? Virtual Tour Guatemala Offers Insights & Discussion On The Current State of Mission Work

This news story was made possible by contributions to FāVS from readers and members like you. Thank you.

By John McCallum

Mission work is one of the central tenants of the Christian faith.

Regardless of whether a mainline Protestant, evangelical or Catholic church, mission — described by author Hunter Farrell as “all the activities done for the people outside the church’s walls in the name of Jesus Christ” — has been a key focus of U.S. churches for decades. Many have allocated up to 20% of their annual budgets to projects ranging from running clothes closets, food distribution and other local needs to building houses, digging wells, establishing schools and more in countries around the world.

But is this desire to follow biblical edicts to “love our neighbors as ourselves” along with “making disciples of all nations” really having the helping, uplifting effect on others it was meant to have? Or has it become more about reinforcing a desire to show others that churches are doing good in the world or throwing money towards time-honored, yet inefficient methods of support made in man’s image, while continuing to prolong practices steeped in colonialism?

Hunter Farrell

Farrell’s nearly 40 years in mission work and discussions with other workers leads him to believe the focus has shifted to the latter, and explains how, why and what can be done to shift the focus back in his 2022 book “Freeing Congregational Mission: A Practical Vision for Companionship, Cultural Humility and Co-Development.” The book and other perspectives of mission are the subject of the upcoming “Virtual Journey to Guatemala: The New Face of Mission,” a virtual presentation and discussion taking place Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 4:30 p.m..

Spokane Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church former pastor Betsey Moe said the presentation’s Guatemala theme stems from Farrell’s visit to that country at the time. The presentation is geared towards mission work of any kind, whether it is local, national or international.

“You don’t have to have an interest in Guatemala to have it apply to you,” Moe said.

Moe is currently working as a facilitator for the Intercultural Encounters Program of the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA). She left Hamblen in March 2020 and moved to Guatemala City with her family earlier this year. Established in 1985 out of similar efforts started in the 1960s, CEDEPCA “provides North American church groups, theological seminarians and college/university students the opportunity to discover Guatemala in all its diversity, beauty and complexity and to experience the everyday life of Guatemalans through immersion programs.”

Farrell is the current director of the World Mission Initiative at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Before that he spent 30 years in mission work for PCUSA, including nine years as director of World Mission.

In “Freeing Congregational Mission,” Farrell explains what many involved in mission perceive the state of this work to be. Short-term mission trips of a week or so are big business, generating an estimated $3.5 billion — $5 billion a year in revenue while programs such as child-sponsorships see more than $3 billion given annually to support orphans while pre-packaged meal programs serve over 415 million people in 74 countries in the hopes of ending hunger.

But the trips and other works in the community have turned into what Farrell calls “selfie mission,” with participants often focusing on what they are doing and their experiences rather than how the work might create community and ownership for those they are visiting. Many experts say the child-sponsorship programs — while noble — often are inefficient and counterproductive to helping children while people receiving pre-packaged meals would be better served with assistance developing self-sustaining farming practices.

Farrell also talks about mission’s roots in European colonialism, something that often worked against the noble concept of treating others as yourself espoused by the very Christians doing the work and led to subjugation and slavery. Recent focus on racial inequality has helped to reshine a brighter light on these conflicts.

“The desire to talk about race has stimulated more discussion about mission,” Moe said. “There’s new energy around it.”

Moe said she has similar worries about mission, and believes churches doing mission can actual hurt those they are trying to help by denying their equal input — and consequently keeping them from having an abundant life.

“If Guatemalans can’t share with us, they’re not having an abundant life,” she added.

The good news is there are remedies that can shift mission focus back to those being served, remedies Farrell puts forth in the book. The book also includes exercises at the end of each chapter designed by fellow World Mission Initiative at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary professor, associate director and co-author Bala Kyllep.

Pre-registration for the virtual tour is available online. Participants are also encouraged to pre-purchase the book, but Moe said it’s not a requirement for attendance, and they will also take “day-of” registration for the tour.

“You don’t have to be leading a (mission) trip or a mission leader to attend,” she said. “You just have to be interested in doing mission.”

This news story was made possible by contributions to FāVS from readers and members like you. Thank you.

John McCallum
John McCallum
John McCallum is a freelance writer living in Liberty Lake. A graduate of Eastern Washington University with degrees in Journalism and Radio-Television, John spent 21 years at the Cheney Free Press as an award-winning staff reporter, editor, managing editor and photojournalist covering everything from government to education, sports, religion and current affairs. He is a member of Spokane’s Knox Presbyterian Church and has served as a church leader on session and participated in worship through a variety of roles. He has made six mission trips to Guatemala as a member of the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest Guatemala Task Force. John enjoys time with his wife, Sheila, and their Dachshund, Chili, road trips — especially the Oregon Coast — along with running, biking and kayaking.

Ad

spot_img
spot_img
spot_img

2 COMMENTS

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
trackback

[…] Doing Good Work? Digital Tour Guatemala Presents Insights & Dialogue On The Present State of Mis… – August 14, 2022 […]

spot_img
2
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x