29 May, 2009

"I feel called to go..."

ring ring ring

- “Hello this is __(name)___ how can I help you?”

- “Hello. Wow, okay, I don’t know how to say this… I just graduated from college with an architecture degree but, wow, I got hooked onto this anti-trafficking work and know you all do that and really feel that God is calling me to be a film maker. And, I don’t know why I’m calling you, God maybe, but do you all have need to hire a videographer to go film this stuff?”

- “Um… What kind of film training do you have? Have you done this before?”

- “Well I’ve made some home movies, but they weren’t documentaries, just family films.”

This is almost verbatim a call I got at work today. I politely explained that since we are a small NGO that with most videographer and photographers it would go a lot further if they would be willing to volunteer to go take video/photos for us. Most NGOs don’t have funds to pay someone to do this fulltime. (And while we were at it, it might help if he had actually made a film – didn’t say that, wanted to, but resisted.)

I will now try to quell my cynicism to a slight simmer.

I can’t tell the number of calls we get a week from people who had divine inspiration or feel called (p.s. everyone feels “called”) or touched or moved to fight for one aspect of what we do (99.9% of the time it’s anti-trafficking) and they just feel that we should be as equally compelled to finance their efforts to develop their passion at our expense. (Somewhat compared to the “God told me I was going to marry you” line when you meet the person for the first time – creepy, unbelievable and total turn off.)

My favorite line in that whole call: God is calling me.

God is calling you though you have no training or experience in film making, aftercare, investigations, development etc. etc.

Maybe that’s true – but I think He calls us to do things intelligently & excellently. And He wants to do thing to the best of our ability which means getting trained and knowing our stuff. Getting called in the first step, getting equipped is the follow-up. There are few instance of anyone who just left their house, went to do something difficult/hard/scary with no training because they had a feeling and did not come out like an elephant in a china shop leaving people and countries more messed up then when they went in. (One great example: Bruce Wilkinson.)

So please respect those you want to help and become knowledgeable in what He is “calling you to” and realize that He does not call everyone to move to Cambodia and take care of these girls. In fact, He calls very few people to that.

My favorite are the people who think they just need to love these girls. We had someone at a training tells us (no joke) they wanted to open an aftercare home so they could sit all day and hold the girls. So you are going to house girls who has been sexually abused for years in a worse hell than most of us can imagine and hold them and that will make them ok?

It’s so refreshing (and I mean this with true sincerity) to have someone call and say, “I care about this, but I have no idea what do to, what can I do?”

Then you say, well attend a training on aftercare, read books, start volunteering in a batter women’s shelter, a children’s juvenile facility, a rape crisis center and see what sexual abuse does to people. Get your MA in social work, psychology, nursing, etc. and volunteer to go with an organization even if that means stuffing envelopes and making copies! Realize that there are so many facets and there is a need for doctors, lawyers, police, law makers, etc. etc. who will fight alongside the women caught in sexual abuse. Become educated, dive into this and if, a year or two from now when you know more God is still calling you to ____ then let’s talk. There is a reason that most NGOs worth their beans won’t hire someone for a programmatic position who doesn’t have an MA and a couple years (plus) of relevant experience.

The issues international NGOs seek to address are major, complex issues, and I will say it again, God calls very few people to the field. But He does us all to care for the orphaned, widowed, hurting, etc. and there are a million and one ways to do that besides jumping in and having no experience.

I had to learn this lesson myself. It is the best thing my current job taught me. It is the difference between a “I can save them” Colonialism mindset (which is so rampant in our society and most development work!) – to one of service and humility and excellence. I have discovered so much about myself, and while it has been difficult and my goals have changed, I realize now that patience, training and further education are the best things to be ready to serve.

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© Amanda Lunday