In the VlogBrothers video below, John Green shares about the only Psychiatric Hospital in Sierra Leone and its 199-year history.
It made me think about churches, missions, and non-profits and the ways we, as the church, can make a difference in the world.
As a big advocate for Mental Health Care, I was fascinated by the story, but the thing that stuck with me most was how the hospital was helped, correctly and incorrectly. John shared three key points which I think we can apply to churches, ministries, and non-profits.
1. Listening and Paying Attention to Those We Want to Help
The hospital in Sierra Leone received generators which were too powerful and therefore couldn’t be used. If the people donating the generators had stopped to ask what kind of generators the hospital needed they would have helped them, in the end, they were no help at all.
How often do we stop to ask the people we want to help how we can help?
If we really want to help, we must ask.
2. Investing in Systems and Not Making Isolated Investments
Sending the hospital a poster showing to end chaining wasn’t helpful to them because while they wanted to end chaining, their system needed a complete and total change to get them to the place to be able to do so. It would take more than just a poster, it would take medications and doctors and more. That’s like putting a band-aid on a broken arm.
How often do we choose to make isolated investments over investing in systems?
In many cases, investing in systems takes more. It takes more time and energy and money, but as John said, in the end, you have systemic results as opposed to making isolated investment and getting isolated results in return. It may be easier, faster, or less energy-consuming, but if we care about making lasting change, then we will do everything it takes to get that. You don’t use band-aids on broken arms.
3. Sometimes We Aren’t the Ones to do the Actual Helping
PIH‘s Sierra Leone’s employees are Sierra Leonian and that helps them to be successful in their work in Sierra Leone.
How often do we feel like we ourselves have to be the ones helping?
Sometimes we should step back and ask ourselves if there are better people for the job. Whether that be to employ local people or just look around for someone more qualified than us and give them whatever kind of support they need to do it, this can be crucial in helping better.
Because the point isn’t who does what to help, the point is helping in the best way possible.
This video made me rethink a lot of ways we do missions and even the way we do things in Church. I think that humility is the last thing I’d like to add to all of this. I think that if we stay humble in everything we do, realizing we don’t know everything, and we don’t always do everything correctly can really help us to grow and strengthen as people who want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
How would you apply some of these points to your churc h /non-profit / mission? What are your thoughts on this video?