Author: Henrietta Cozens, MA graduate in Asian Studies in Intercultural Contexts (Redcliffe College)
Twelve participants from a variety of mission agencies attended Martin Lee’s seminar on Money and Mission during the 3rd Asia Consultation at Redcliffe College in July. Martin works for Global Connections and has a career of raising and releasing funds for various overseas projects. He has also seen the opportunities and pitfalls of generosity, and so was well placed to lead this dynamic, interactive discussion.
After chuckling over a couple of humorous quotes about the links between money and mission, we got down to the nitty gritty of the topic – how much of mission work is directed by those who hold the purse strings? Is funding of economically poorer mission movements a legitimate form of partnership? Martin encouraged us to consider the issues from various angles and we concluded that we should exhibit caution in how we give due to the dependency and unequal power relations that can result from bad giving, but should still err on the side of generosity whenever possible.
People in the group shared various stories of positive experiences they’d had with giving seed-money for new projects overseas, developing accountability in funding partners, and encouraging sustainability. However seminar participants had also experienced lack of good money management by those receiving the funds, as well as bad supervision of money by funders. This led us to ask ourselves two questions: Why should richer countries fund indigenous mission movements, agencies and projects, and why shouldn’t they? We each made personal lists of reasons before sharing them together in the group.
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