In the last few years several books, including ‘Serving With Eyes Wide Open’, ‘When Helping Hurts’, ‘Disrupted’ (by our own Gayla Congdon) and ‘Toxic Charity’ have been written on the subject of short-term missions. They are written with the hope of making sure that the 2 million people and 2 billion (yes, billion with a b!) dollars spent each year by Americans alone on short-term missions are being used effectively.
A big part of my role at Amor is meeting and visiting with people that have never gone on an Amor missions trip and inviting them to participate with Amor. Some have never heard of Amor and some have. One of the things that people only peripherally aware of Amor say to me is, “Oh, you’re that house building ministry, right?”. When I hear people say this, I have a standard conversation starter that I use.
“Amor is not a house-building ministry, We are a ministry that builds houses.”
At our very core, Amor exists to support the local church. When Scott and Gayla founded Amor, they met with local church leaders to determine how they best could help. Those pastors expressed the need for adequate housing in their communities to help keep families together, and thus was born the Amor house-building trip.
In each location we serve, Amor works through the local church. A self-governing board of pastors and community leaders, called the Ministry Planning Board (MPB), determine the families that Amor will build for, and the guidelines for how those families are chosen. They meet together regularly and are mutually accountable. The MPB, not Amor, select all the families we build for.
This is done because they live, work, and minister in these communities. They have the intimate community and cultural awareness that an outsider or short-term visitor could never have.
“The Amor house becomes in essence, a tool for evangelism”
Have you ever done street or door-to-door evangelism? I’ve been involved in it a couple of times and let’s just say, it’s not my forte. I know that for some, they love it! They are just gifted differently than me and have been very effective with it.
I know that it stretches me and I grow in my faith because of it, but I’ve never enjoyed it. When I’ve done it, I’ve left feeling like a traveling salesman hocking a product that nobody has heard of, doesn’t understand, or worse, that nobody wants. I know that the good news that I’m there to share has been life changing for me and can be for them as well. It’s just that sometimes I can’t get past “Hello, my name is Forrest….”, before the door is shut.
Sometimes people just don’t want to talk to you.
It’s like that for pastors in Mexico and all around the world too. Despite having the good news and wanting to help, the doors are shut in pastor’s face before the conversation can even begin.
The Amor house in essence, becomes a tool for evangelism. The MPB has established that families don’t need to attend a certain church or even be Christians to receive a home. This opens the door for pastors to speak to lots of people that would have never spoken to them for any other reason.
The possibility of a free house has a curiosity to it. It demonstrates the love, care, and concern that the pastor and the church (and ultimately God) has for the person. After Amor/Love (clever, huh?) is demonstrated in a tangible, physical way, through the building of a house, the gospel message can be more clearly communicated (and received).
And just like any late night advertisement…But wait! There’s more!