Why I Don’t Rescue

rescueEver feel like you needed to rescue someone?

As a new teacher, I was sure I had a lot to offer. The students needed me. They needed what I had. I was the outside expert parachuting into their world to save them from their ignorance and give them what they couldn’t possibly get for themselves.

As my career progressed I discovered I was working with a horribly flawed model. My students didn’t need to be saved by an expert. They needed a partner who brought some resources and skills to the learning process.

And like every good teacher, I learned and grew from the relationship at least as much as my students.

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I’ve been reading a lot about how to address injustice issues like poverty and racism. Like me as a new teacher, our solutions usually involve some version of the outside experts swooping in with their version of a solution.

The best solutions involve relationship in which there’s acknowledgement that everyone’s broken and in need of reconciliation. Local folks contribute both ideas and resources, and the entire process is a partnership. It’s about being servants, not saviors.

And there’s never a sense that we’re “bringing Jesus” into communities in which He’s always been active.

I’ve learned that we tend to greatly oversimplify issues of social justice. Poverty, for example, is a good deal more than simple lack of resources. Without understanding, the best intentions may cause harm.

Victims of injustice already have a Savior. They need a partner.

If you want to learn more, I strongly recommend this book: When Helping Hurts

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1 thought on “Why I Don’t Rescue

  1. Damien - November 22, 2015

    Thanks, Rich! For organizing the trip, for the blog post, for evnetyhirg that you’re doing. The trip was fun and I look forward to working there again soon. Let’s win this thing!

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