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Giving Wisely

A super resource for anyone who cares about missions and/or gives to global non profits.  Giving Wisely:  Killing with Kindness or Empowering Lasting Transformation has been the book on my nightstand this month.  The author, Jonathan Martin, is a missions pastor in Oregon and has served overseas in Asia.  He talks about the need for wisdom and compassion in our generosity.  The two objectives that giving should accomplish are:

  1. to show the compassion of Christ.
  2. to truly help the person who’s in need.

In order to carry out those ideals, he has developed four foundational principles of true generosity that serve as the basis for whether or not their church funds a project. 

The helpful acronym RAISE stands for:

R-    Relationships First
A-    Accountability
IS- Indigenous Sustainability
E-     Equity

Martin tells a variety of horror stories to highlight how our dollars affect developing nations and the importance of not sending money blindly to any cause.  Know who you’re giving to, Check their track record, their leadership and their results. The goal of giving should be to allow nationals to take over the identity and finances of the project.  Finally, make sure that you’re not creating rifts of jealousy by your support on a national leader.  

While reading the book, I had to ask myself, “How are we doing on the RAISE concept?”

Being on the mission field, I can attest to the importance of accountability.  Even though I find that an increasing amount of our time is in administration, paperwork and sending monthly reports, it helps develop a trust with our partner organizations back home.  While raising support is one of the hardest aspects of missionary work, I’m truly thankful for the team we have surrounding us.  If we didn’t need the help of others, we wouldn’t have the incredible relationships we do with our partnering churches and families.  

Truly, What we are trying to avoid in working with the national church here is dependency.  We want to help them get started with projects that they’ve designed, and we shouldn’t be funding them for eternity.  It is crucial for a plan to be in place and goals to be set for self-sufficiency of the local effort.  This is the formula for long-term prevalence of a ministry and we’re happy that the radio is now at the point where it no longer needs us!

We especially resonated with the chapter on training and education.  He says,

“If you want a person to reach his or her own culture, don’t take him out of it. Don’t take someone out of a relatively impoverished country, show him the glitter and comfort and
material excess of the U.S. and then expect him to want to go back.  Don’t take a Chinese
man from China, train him in a western school and American mega-church ministry
techniques, and then expect him to slip back into his culture like he’d never left.” P. 165.

Most of Norberto’s peers from overseas that he studied with in the U.S. wound up in the good ol’ US of A for good!  We can’t blame them for doing this, many came from huts, crummy educational systems and little promise of a future.  However, what good does their education do for their developing country that desperately needs professionals?

We felt a strong confirmation that the training institute we are embarking on will serve the purpose of training Paraguayans in their own setting to impact their own people in a culturally appropriate way.  The book helped validate many of our missions philosophies and helped us see our need to continually up the ante on accountability and relationship building.
I would highly recommend this book to all missions committee members and nonprofits involved with helping global efforts.  I need to warn you though, it will challenge your ideals and force you to get more personally involved with those you support.  If you give simply to appease your conscience or for the tax credit; this book is not for you.  However, if you want to see real and lasting change with your hard-earned resources, definitely take the time for this spot-on book.


  1. I love this post! I read a similar book recently and have to put this one on my list now. It is a challenge that we think about a lot. We're so excited about the training institute!!! :)


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