Sunday, April 3, 2011

Staring at Black People

This post is hard for me to write, because the reality really saddens me.


First, a little lesson in racial vocabulary here in South Africa.  There are basically 3 groups of people here (with terrible relationships historically)....and this is how they are referred to:

  1. White (Mainly Dutch & English)
  2. Black (Dark people from all over Africa)
  3. Coloured (Mixed race people with decent from Malaysia, Indonesia and Madagascar)


The community we are working in is called Masiphumelele and is made up of mainly Blacks.  It is a Black township.  


Today was another eye opener for me.  I guess I never realized what a tourist attraction Masi is. This afternoon, I was leading a DBS (click HERE to read about what that is) on a roadside with 6 other people when a group of about 25 tourists came walking by.  They were fascinated by all the poor people and the shacks.  Then, they saw US!  3 White people sitting in a circle talking with 4 Black guys.  The cameras really came out now.  Why were we meeting with and talking to these (dangerous) black people?  


In my opinion, South Africa has turned it's poverty into a tourist attraction.  Groups come in droves to the local townships to stare at the Black people and poor people.  Poverty is just something to be stared at by many wealthy people around the world!  


It makes me sad, actually.  Because I think that many missions teams that come do something quite the same. They come as ministry tourists I cannot help but wonder what would happen if we took all the money that the rich spend to to come stare, and used it to eradicate hunger and give people work?  What if money was spent on something more fruitful than staring at the Black people?


What are your thoughts?  Are wasted Kingdom resources delaying the fulfillment of the Great Commission?


Iris Martin said...

Hi Noah, I have a different look at your "Ministry Tourists" as I was one in Kenya years ago. As a result of 2 weeks in Kenya I have continued to support the school I worked in, I have spoken in several churches about what experienced while in Kenya. They each took an offering for the school and at least for a while prayed for them. The junior department in our church has supported the school and I give them reports several times.
My belief is that the school, a Mennonite school run in a slum has benefited from my very short visit. I personally benefited from the exposure to the third world country in seeing how they are sacfrificing so much to share food, shelter, education and God's love. It is a challange to give as much of myself as they do. I don't feel that my short trip was a waste of resources.

Noah said...

Iris, I appreciate your remarks. Let me clear something up: I DO believe that short term missions can have long term Kingdom impact. Yours seems to be a great example of such. Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Noah am African and you were my pastor in USA & I follow your blog.You are a man God has chosen to minister to his children.In heaven there will be no black or white as we are all created in Gods image and saved by grace of God not by our looks or color of skin or wealth.God is LOVE.You will appreciate how close you are with God by the Love you will experience from Africans.If one doesn't know what Love is go to the poor and you will realise Gods Love through them.Pastor Noah you are a vessel God is using to tell the world God does not discriminate......he created all of us.I pray for you always ,Tricia and your son.You are "role models" of who a christian is.May Gods Blessings pour on You and all you touch.Even tears were created by God and its Ok to cry tears of sadness and tears of Joy as you minister in SA.