This is an article from the September - October 2001 issue: Strategic Giving

The Principle of Geographical Proximity

The Principle of Geographical Proximity

Recently I was pleased to hear that a church in Zambia collected a planeload of relief supplies to send to southern Sudan. When the Rwandan refugee crisis occurred several years ago, churches in South Africa collected goods to be sent to Rwandan refugees.

These were regional resources being mobilized for other regions of the continent of Africa. Using this principle, the ideal is for local needs to be met with local resources (see the graph on the following page). Needs and resources range from individuals, to nuclear families, to ex­tended families all the way up to global resources. First of all, individuals in a family should help them­selves and other individuals in their own family. Beyond that, extended families are a God-given resource for their own members. Communities can help members of their own community or other communities. If there is a problem in one province of a nation, another province within the nation can help. In that way one part of the nation helps another.

If a nation in one region of a continent needs help, perhaps another nation in the same region can be called upon. Regions of a continent can help other regions in need, as in my illustrations above. When all other sources close at hand have been tapped, then global resources can be called upon to help meet the needs.

The problem occurs when global resources are used first to help meet local needs. This sometimes occurs even when there are local, national or regional resources available that could be used. When we do that, we run the risk of destroying local initiative and setting the stage for long-term dependency.

When local resources are used to meet local needs, the blessing derived from helping stays in the local area. When one part of the nation helps other parts of the nation, the blessing stays within the nation. Likewise, when one region helps another, the blessing stays within the region. But consider what happens when global resources are used to meet local needs. The blessing goes to the people on the global scene who get a good feeling from giving. Unfortunately that good feeling just may be at the expense of those on the local scene who might have been able to give if they were asked.

There are clearly cases when global resources will need to be given. But care should be taken so that such giving does not replace resources closer at hand— and that any help does not create long-term dependency. Knowing when global resources should be given is one more important reason to become familiar with sound principles that avoid depen­dency. These  principles of giving to avoid dependency are as important at the lower levels of this chart as at the higher levels.


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