When Missions Look Like Work
“What do you mean running a small business is a way to do missions?”
This is a question we’re often asked. We get it. When most Westerners think “missions” we think short term trips and riveting stories from visiting missionaries about trekking into the jungle to share the Gospel.
While a trek into the jungle does sound like a blast, it’s not what we feel the Lord asking us to do right now. (But honestly the mosquito population in our office sometimes rivals the jungle, so…)
All jokes aside, We know Jesus and his Church are alive and well in Haiti. From our studio, we frequently here joyful singing from nearby churches.
We want to build up a business that feels as sacred as church: a place where women are valued and able to earn consistent income, where their talents and dedication are honored, where each person is respected and loved for who they are.
Short term trips can add value to locally led projects, but they can also work against long term goals. Often, when we bring our Western perspective to short term trips, we look for activities and projects that fit our cultural paradigms. These aren’t always the things that work best in our host countries. The most common example of this is the Western idea that visiting an orphanage to share love with children is beneficial.
Organizations like JK Rowling’s LUMOS have spent years researching the effects of voluntarism on children in institutionalized care. When strangers constantly parade in and out of a child’s life, the child develops attachment disorders that will last them their entire life. In Haiti, many children in institutionalized care have living parents who can’t afford to care for them.
This heart breaking fact was the original catalyst for Mama Zwazo, and continues to drive us to provide stable employment. Our hope is that our employees, though not yet mothers, will never be faced with the choice to give their child up in order to offer them a better life.
This is the Gospel in the flesh.
We believe Jesus is in the social business movement. We believe dignified employment honors the Imago Dei, the image of God, in everyone. We believe putting high quality goods into the hands of conscious consumers is an act of worship in itself.
Sometimes, missions is a preaching from a pulpit, and sometimes it’s paying fair wages to artisans who excel at their craft. Either way, trekking into the unknown for the sake of the greater good is what we’re here for.
LITTLE BY LITTLE ACTION STEPS:
-Recommended Reading: From Aid to Trade by Daniel Jean Louis
-For more on slow justice: Slow Kingdom Coming by Kent Annan
-Look carefully at the organizations you support. Are they listening to local leaders? Are they pursuing dignity for all?
-Instead of a trip centered on service projects, look for organizations that offer learning trips. These trips will look different, but allow you to invest money in the local economy while learning from local leaders.
-Keep learning! We all start somewhere. Keep listening and learning what works and what hurts in the global scheme of things.
Love + Caribbean Light-
The Mama Zwazo Team