Haiti is a country that has struggled with widespread poverty and political unrest for generations. Most recently, these struggles have been magnified by the natural disaster of an earthquake and hurricane that have crippled much of the island infrastructure. River Oaks supports Haiti through the general mission efforts of the E-Free Church and is focusing efforts to increase our involvement in this country of great need. We send several teams to Haiti a year in partnership with Children’s Lifeline, an organization based out of Atlanta. Children’s Lifeline answers their calling from God to provide solid Biblical teaching, food, clothing, medical supplies, facilities for educational assistance for the underprivileged children and their families in underdeveloped areas in Haiti and then assist them in developing the skills and resources to provide all these things for themselves. For more information about our Haitian Missions, contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Island Nation Missions
River Oaks has aligned itself with an established church in central part of the island. This church is under the pastoral care of Carlos and his wife. Their church provides spiritual nourishment for its members as well as direct care and support to area residents through their associated pastor team.
Past River Oaks activities on the island nation include; pastor’s luncheons, kids club activities, food and clothing distribution to area residents in need, as well as the supply of Bibles and teaching literature. For more information about our Island Nation Missions, contact the church office at email@example.com.
“Philosophy of Cross Cultural Missions” of River Oaks Community Church:
- We believe that our primary ‘mission field’ is the Elkhart-Goshen area because that is where we are located. Therefore we will promote the conviction that every believer at River Oaks needs to be involved in the lives of lost people.
- We also believe that as a part of the Church, we must extend our missionary efforts beyond our own local area and beyond our own white middle-class culture to the people of the world (Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8) and this cross-cultural focus constitutes our secondary ‘mission field’. And we believe every believer at River Oaks needs to be involved in some way in cross-cultural missions.
- We do not believe that we are expected to reach everyone or to reach into every culture or into every geographic region of the world. We must do a part, but we are free to focus our efforts to specific cultures and geographic areas as we respond to God’s unique call on River Oaks.
These priorities give us our uniqueness in the effort to take the message of the gospel to the world:
- Because a large part of our DNA is to go to the lost, grow in our faith and show compassion to the poor, we will work with cross-cultural churches and mission agencies focused on evangelism, discipleship and assisting the poor. This means that we are biased toward the 3rd world cultures where poverty is more pronounced.
- Because we want to be as effective as possible, we will limit the number of ‘mission fields’ to a manageable number (4-6) and seek to develop long-term relationships with all of the mission fields we engage.
- Because we want to develop a culture of participation, we will be intentional in sending our people on regular short-term mission trips. We would like to see everyone at least once in their lifetime go on a short-term mission trip.
- Because we want to develop a culture of participation we will commit to raising money and other resources to help develop the ministries. Currently this is done primarily through our annual Christmas Project and operating budget.
- Because we want to be as culturally relevant as we can, we will select ministries where the leadership is indigenous; that is we will not be involved in supporting and sending American missionaries to cross-cultural mission fields; we will select ministries where the leadership is from that culture.
We understand that God will bring people to River Oaks who have a call on their life to reach different cultures or in different places in the world than what we have identified.
We wish to affirm their call without diffusing ours. Therefore we will support members of River Oaks who go on short-term mission trips or are career missionaries with approved evangelical mission agencies as our budget allows, per our present policy.
Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.
Personal responsibility is essential for social, emotional and spiritual well being as to not disempower them. The effective helper can be an encourager, a coach, a partner but never a caretaker.
Limit one-way giving to emergency situations.
Ask yourself if the need is crisis or chronic? Victims of a devastating event need immediate medical attention, shelter, essential supplies and hoards of volunteers. Over time survivor needs shift to expert consultation, a practical plan and a combination of grants and loans to help them rebuild their destroyed community.
- Give once and you elicit appreciation;
- Give twice and you create anticipation;
- Give three times and you create expectation;
- Give four times and it becomes entitlement;
- Give five times and you establish dependency.
Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements.
Lending to the poor establishes mutually beneficial relationships characterized by responsibility, accountability, and respect. Lending done well, builds mutual trust and respect. Investing-making money with the poor-is the ultimate method that economically strengthens through job-creating partnerships and implies an ownership stake in sustainability and profitability of the venture.
Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served.
Organizational interests can subtly take precedence over the interest of the poor. When the church agenda is to create an inspiring, enriching and well planned mission experience for members, the real needs like decent schools and stable employment may be overlooked and dismissed.
Listen closely to those you seek to help; especially to what is not being said-unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.
The poor we serve may be reluctant to reveal ‘the whole story’ to helpers due to intimidation, fear of judgment, fear of losing support, fear of appearing unappreciative. . Effective helpers must learn to carefully observe behaviors, ask insightful questions, use their intuition, and hear what is not being said.
Above all, do no harm.
Before we embark on any new service venture, we should conduct an ‘impact study’ to consider how our good deeds might have unintended consequences. Are we creating dependencies that may ultimately erode self-sufficiency?