Thursday, September 21, 2017

How Much to Help: Rules for Senior Missionaries

We frequently get asked by Westerners how they can help the needy people in Africa.  Perhaps learning some principles that senior missionaries need to abide by can help.  Here are some "rules" that I recently discovered that came from a senior couples conference here in the Kenya Nairobi Mission a few years ago.  I have underlined and bolded things I feel are extremely important and have made a few comments.  It's so important to help in the Lord's way.  We are taught to help others so they can help themselves.  "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time" is so true.  We want these good people here in Africa to be self-reliant and thus self-confident in their abilities to care for themselves.

"Couples must understand that cultural differences in Africa are huge.  Couples should not judge nor evaluate Africans, their happiness, or their circumstances based upon a comparison with standards of living or expectations in the U.S. or other Western societies nor should they compare the two living standardsHappiness and well-being are not determined by physical possessions or financial capability."

"Couples should not give personal financial assistance to members. . . . Such assistance creates greater dependence.  Couples must be aware of and honor Church welfare procedures and principles, which are administered only by unit leaders.  Couples should not solicit financial or other assistance from wards or stakes or members at home, nor should they foster or promote 'charitable' projects for African members or others in Africa. "

Note from me:  Charitable projects that take place over a week or two can be good as long as they don't foster dependency but often this is exactly what happens.  Some units of the Church here in Africa see a huge increase in attendance when Church members from the West are attending because they know these people will bring them "gifts" aka "handouts."  In those cases, African members are attending for the wrong reason.  We want them to come to Church because they have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not because they want a handout.

"Couples should not feel nor teach that Church units in Africa should have all of the same programs, facilities or supplies that are available in their home wards."  Note from me:  Things will improve for African units of the Church as they mature in the gospel.  It will just take time.

"Couples should not do the work of nor assume the responsibilities of the local leaders.  Couples must be patient and helpful in teaching local leaders how to fulfill their callingsTheir role is to develop leaders capable of carrying on with confidence and ability when the couples are released or reassigned.

Note from me:  Today in church, we heard the gospel preached masterfully by our African branch president.  Many here are really grounded in gospel principles and are leading as well as Western leaders lead in the West.  These leaders are definitely leading with confidence and testimony.

"Couples must not offer to or sponsor African young men or young women on missions, in schooling, or to go to the United States, nor should they encourage emigration or schooling outside their countries of birth."  

Note from me:  Africa is a huge continent with wonderful possibilities.  Not everyone wants to or needs to live in the West.  We in the West don't have a corner on happiness.  There are millions of people here who love living in Africa.

"Couples should not send financial assistance or supplies to members after leaving the mission.  Offerings should be given through your home ward." 

Note from me:  The best way we can help is to donate to the Church's Humanitarian Fund, or to the Perpetual Education Fund, or to the General Missionary Fund which helps needy Africans to be able to serve missions.  These funds all operate with volunteers and so ALL of the money goes where it is needed the most.


  1. Great advice! Thank you, Sister Torrie

  2. I wish everyone in the US could read your comment about how the West doesn't have a corner on the market of happiness! As a matter of fact, with our focus on "more more more" and "me me me," we're mostly a lot less happy than most other people in the world. A lot of stuff and money doesn't make a person happy. If it did, why aren't Americans the happiest people in the world... haha

  3. I love what you wrote, Colleen, and also what Heidi added! (And this also reminded me of PIT: "Corner on rye, corner on rye!")

  4. Thanks for sharing this Colleen. I really do enjoy reading your blog when I find time. Thanks for your wonderful example.