I am not one to express my opinion very loudly, or easily. Well, maybe that is going a bit far. However, I do take great pride in humbly balancing my practice of the art and science of medicine.
I can walk into an examination room and without ever talking or listening to the patient, immediately make the diagnosis by placing my stethoscope to the chest and listening to the heart. Oh yes, I listen to the physical heart, without the senseless, time consuming nonsense of listening to the emotional and spiritual heart. “Please don’t interrupt me, I am trying to treat you.” That line always works. It keeps the patient from getting in the way of my treatment plan.
I have compassion. It is heartless compassion. This patient is nothing more than an object, a project, a proposal and a good idea. As long as I keep it that way, meet my objectives, send out the right letters of appeal, give back the good reports and look good to donors, all things fit.
I believe that the true heart of ‘humanitarian’ or relief and development ministries can only be realized when I begin to listen to the patient. Otherwise, I will continue to take pride in humbly balancing my art and science of medical practice.
The true heart of relief and development ministries must be Christ centered. To do anything less is indeed compassionate, yet heartless.
Jesus took time to allow people to express their desire to be healed. When we ask people what is hurting their hearts, we will have to listen and meet the needs of their hearts, even when it may differ with our personal objectives.
This will mean intentionally forming alliances with well established organizations with both moral and financial integrity. Ideally, these partner organizations should be operating within the fields of service of our missionaries, and be managed by Christians indigenous to the area.
Heartless compassion is the continuous advancement of an agenda that serves to treat the illness at the expense of killing the patient. That elevates the project and its managers and supporters, over the needs of the people whom we serve. We can and must do better if we are to build true sustainability into the works God has commited to us.