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bonar crump
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Perils of Well-Meaning But Short-Sighted Generosity

by Tony Campolo

It took a long time and a lot of safeguards to make sure that the dollars that I get people to give to support missionary projects do the good they are intended to do. We hate to impose the vigorous controls that we normally require when we dish out money. There’s the matter of guilt. Comparatively, we Americans have so much while these needy people have so little. Too quickly we ask, “What can I do to help?” And far too often, the answer leads to money being given without the proper precautions.

What makes me most sad is that I am convinced that I helped corrupt some good church leaders in Haiti. I know of two men who were doing good things for their people until I got involved and started to provide funding for the care of some orphans who lived in their town. These men were poor and they had poor relatives. The money ended up being used to hire relatives for non-existent jobs or jobs that were almost non-existent. For instance, one cousin was paid a standard Haitian salary to spend a half-hour collecting the mail from the post office each day. I know of another man who was paid a full salary to wash the pastor’s car whenever a washing might be needed. These pastors were poor men from poor families; and when I gave them money, they felt that their first obligation was to take care of their blood relatives.

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