Yesterday morning at the convention, I had an 8:30 coffee chat planned with Marko. I got to the Hilton about a half hour early because I wanted to hear a few minutes of Eric Iverson's workshop titled 'Missions Without Pimping The Poor'. I was interested in his workshop for two reasons: First, we are in the process of changing how we go about missions in our junior high ministry. I'm not sure, yet, if we will only tweak things a bit or if we will go for a more complete re-build. Second, any workshop with the word 'pimping' in it has to be checked out! I could only stay for about 15 minutes and was only able to hear his basic premise, not his recommendations for a solution. However, his premise really got me thinking.
Eric works for a para-church missions agency that last year brought in close to nine million dollars. Thousands and thousands of kids paying around 300 bucks a pop to spend a week helping the poor. His question to himself and to us was this: Do organizations like his actually NEED the poor to continue to exist so they can continue to make income as an organization? In other words: Are the poor simply beeing used, or pimped, by organizations as a source of income? Could we not come up with other ways to expose students to the needs of the world while actually solving some of them at the same time? That's when I had to slip out to meet Ostreicher...I never heard the rest of the workshop and will certainly purchase the recording. But, before I hear his answers and suggestions, I'm going to wrestle through the question a bit on my own.