Responses to Campolo's Article on "Making Matters Worse in Haiti"

The comments in response to the post on Tony Campolo's article Making Matters Worse in Haiti were great.  You readers are a smart bunch.  So I thought that I would give them a better spotlight rather than just have them hidden in the comments.

From Tim Smith:

Well a couple things cross my mind. He makes some good points on the effectiveness of the money. And if it were a trip to build something a year ago he would have a point in regards to Haiti.

In the case of a natural disaster, including in our very own country, even if every person in the affected area were involved there is still more work to be done than can be in a reasonable amount of time.

I also strongly believe if you are going on a trip just to build something and head back, the point of the mission is lost. It is supposed to be a gesture of love and a chance to share the gospel, even if only in action do to language barriers.

If what Tony says is spot on, Haiti would not have been in the spot they were before the quake. There is a flip side to the sending just money. Many people are willing to stroke a check and forget about it, but giving your time takes a deeper commitment. Should we go build something while they watch? No, we should be working with them to build something and to teach them things they can use to grow as a nation and spiritually.

I think his tie to welfare is counter productive. In fact I think his conclusion is closer to what we have done with welfare than the point he argues against. If we just send money it is sending the welfare check to the lady cashing it and buy smokes or worse, we have all seen it. Where as if we love them, and show them and give them ideas to better themselves all while sharing the message of Jesus Christ, then we might truly improve their lives far beyond the life of the building we used to make the point.

Bottom line if we were going somewhere to build a building that wasn't just ravaged by a natural disaster I would say we at least need to think of a different reason to go. But if Louisiana needed outside effort to recover from natural disaster, you can be assured Haiti needs physical help, not just money. Thats where I think Tony misses the point, his article is spot on . . . the day before the earthquake.

From Shannon Caroland:

I don't buy much of this argument at all. I've heard in many forms hundreds of times.

But incarnation is a better strategy than check sending almost every time.

Being there has meaning. Connections are built that brochures and slideshows can never accomplish. (You should ask someone like Craig Gates why he surrenders so much of his time to "babysitting" unskilled American teens. Believe me, he has thought that through).

Construction is kind of a lazy answer as to how to best help. That literacy thing sounds really neat.

But these trips should not be seen as an end in themselves. They are means to an end. The end is a bigger sense of the Kingdom in the mind and heart, so that this new perspective bares fruit.

Here's a better solution: When my brother-in-law takes college students to the Philippines, he has each student commit to be a financial partner to that ministry. They pledge $50 a month for life. Now this connection is baring fruit

Now the money coming in to the mission is from a friend they have met. (Wouldn't money from unknown U.S. churches have the same welfare-like effect Campolo fears these trips have?)

From Greg Wack (the Wackerino):

Thanks for the good blog, Regan. Tony Campolo really hits the nail every time. When I think back to when I went to Haiti. Our group of about 12 adults finished building a church while the parishioners watched in poverty. We couldn't even share food because it would instigate a food riot. If we had sent all the money that was spent on our trip to a group that would hire Haitians to do the work, we would have done so much more for them. As it was several Haitian women walked at least a mile, several times a day, with large buckets full of water on their heads so that we had water for the cement we made. They worked every bit as hard as we did, didn't get paid a cent, and were probably a hundred times more grateful for what we did than we could fathom. Thanks for putting good stuff out here for us to think about.