Monday, June 05, 2006

Giving it up: The true hollywood story behind a project

I recently caught a whiff of what some people are calling a charitable event, building a school and a church in the hood. Not such a bad idea but when you see the costs of the project (over 1 million dollars) it makes you wonder if this is good for the hood?

The idea is they tear down a old church, and a few houses, in the hood then build a new building housing a school & a church. They even have a group that is raising cash of this endeavor, dubbed as 'friends of said church'. They picked the right name, they are friends of the church, but of the neighborhood...that's another question altogether. Funny, they have a fundraiser 'Lobster Night' at $50.00 a ticket, who do you think is going to that? Nice well-meaning, rich folk.

I think the idea is a type of 'sound good' church politics in the name of helping a community but in the end it doesn't add up. They are raising money to tear houses down (I think 2) and a church to build a new school/church. My problem is that most people in that neighborhood can't even afford to own a house yet a church has money to destroy 2? Yet they are supposed to be identifying with the needs of the community. Is that what the community asked for...a new school & church?

It's a group with no connection to the community and they see charity as building churches and a school, a very missionary endeavor. They have money to give yet they give it to finance buildings, same sh*t I railed on another church for building a $250,000 parking lot. These are the ideas that make us (Christians) look nice but mean very little in the actual helping of people. They are giving in a mis-guided way, name how one person specifically is helped in this project (that doesn't exist now)?

I see a mis-management of funds in the allocation of this cash. That million dollars could go towards programs to help people that want to buy houses, fix their homes, fix the church, get an education (external sources), tutoring programs for their children, etc. Tonnes of ideas but then you have to look at the mentality behind it.

These people already have a school & church in the same building, but the building is a little broken down. It makes sense to fix it up or replace the church (to me anyways). My problem comes in when I think the church is exclusionary. They will help the have's (people of professed faith in their ranks) and won't help the have-not's (people of not professed faith). Thus you see a church helping itself with the money raised. The people around them get very little except to see a nice building on their street, which they have no investment in.

Can the money be spent better? Yes. Is it another case of church (a building) over church (the people)? Yes. Is it another case for people to bat their eyelashes and say nothing? Yes, God forbid you should raise real questions about what good this is doing anyways (since it looks good). I have been calling for giving like this from churches (which I applaud) to help wipe out poverty, but I'll never see that day if people think this is the answer. What do you think? Is there a better solution or am I too far gone?


Humming Bird said...

People always mean well, but rarely understand true is not something that will probably end, as people always want to find a venue to pour themselves into in order to receive a sense of accomplishment or is easier than trying to and having to truly connect...true connection takes more work...people are hard work...I think you understand that deeply.

jollybeggar said...

'These are the ideas that make us (Christians) look nice but mean very little in the actual helping of people.'

are you sure they make us look nice to anyone other than others with the same world view?

in sri lanka last summer on a mission, i was talking to a guy who, as a sri lankan teacher (not the north american, 'let's go see the world and get paid for it by teaching them english' variety) made the equivalent of about $40/month to provide for his family of five.

i asked if i could take their picture in order to pray for them when back in north america. he consented, and then curiously asked how much my camera cost. i quit the 'what, this old thing?' deal when i realized that my modest little digital camera cost me three months' wages in his economy.

"now this is what it's like when worlds collide" (powerman5000)

SocietyVs said...

Beggar you follow the jam. I also know of a church organization, based on missions, that pays there missionaries like $40,000/year, same wage I make as we speak. That $40,000/year is like a million bucks compared to the workers where they go to (ex: Latin America or India). Just another case of 'what were we thinking'?

Illuminate said...

Cant comment, but I do like the idea of actually being there for people when they need it,instead of insisting if they go to church and pray then a miracle will happen.

Internet Street Philosopher said...

Nobody's perfect. Some of the craziest problems stem from people who are church, but all one can do is pray for them at this point.