As I reflect briefly on the cycle of dependency in Malawi, the following outline formed in my mind for fleshing out in a future seminar or sermon:
1. Malawi depends on NGO’s and International Debt reduction, which in turn encourages social lethargy, civil ineffectiveness and sometimes political corruption.
2. NGOs, like CitiHope, can either feed it by further relief work, or move toward sustainable development.
3. Authentic partnerships (international and domestic) are required to break the cycle of dependency.
4. True partnership requires needs assessment and resource assessment. “I have gifts to offer and receive and you have gifts to offer and receive.” When the resources flow one way to meet the needs, it creates an un-level playing field between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’
5. “The best partnerships,” says Rev. Levi, ” is when I don’t carry you and you don’t carry me.”
6. Mutuality in ministry is walking side by side. Jesus sent his disciples out two by two, side by side, without adequate provision, so that they could depend on each other. Mutuality in ministry is evident in how the disciples were sent without a money bag or extra coat. In this way they would make themselves mutually dependent on the hospitality and protection of those they sought to help. This is “reverse mission.” (Mark 6:12)
7. Jesus did not feed the 5,000 with food aid from his global NGO. He saw that the crowd was hungry and he first asked them: “What do you have to offer?” They were able to find among themselves ‘five loaves and two fish’ for a total of 7 food products within the community. Seven is the perfect number. It was enough. In the hands of Jesus, the available resources were leveraged and multiplied…enough to feed 5,000 hungry people on the hillside (Mark 6:30-44)
8. Sustainable development requires authenticity, mutuality, transparency and empowerment.
9. Humanitarian assistance and charitable aid programs should be offered to the most vulnerable and at risk, not to the masses. Life and death matters require basic aid and take priority over development programs.
10. Yesterday’s soccer game between FOMCO (the aid-dependent orphan care center)and Citihope (the international NGO aid provider) was an inspiring illustration of what it would be like to be mutually dependent on a level playing field.