Is Our Mission, Serving the Poor?
“We exist because of the poor. Our primary focus is changing their situation.”
So writes a colleague in a recent email discussion about our mission.
It seems right, doesn’t it?
I have never believed it is that simple. Mainly because the question can be answered at different levels.
Whenever this issue is discussed someone will quote the catechism, “What is the chief aim of man?”
I regret I never learned my catechism too well in the Methodist church but I think it went something like “to love God and enjoy Him forever.”
Doubtless many of you can email me the correct version.
OK. Then is World Vision Australia’s mission to “love God” etc?
I suppose it is.
Truth is our mission, and therefore our self-understanding, operates on a number of levels.
Above all, there is the sense of calling that comes to each of us as a member of that mystical community—the Body of Christ.
In World Vision we are part of this community. Bearing witness to the Kingdom must be part of our ultimate purpose.
Then, of course, we need to recognise that we are members of a subset of this Body. That subset is called World Vision International.
Its mission is a little less broad than that expanse we know as the “Kingdom of God.”
World Vision International’s mission is to “follow Jesus ... in working with the poor and oppressed, to promote human transformation, to seek justice, and to bear witness to the Kingdom of God.”
That looks a bit more like the “we exist because...” statement that I started with.
But there is another level of existence. Another subset below WVI.
We call that World Vision Australia.
What is the unique contribution that World Vision Australia makes within the partnership mission?
The answer to this must have something to do with donor transformation.
While it is true that “we exist because of the poor,” it is also true that most of our customers in Australia are donors.
This is why we describe our mission with words like “empowering people to transform their worlds.”
This includes the poor, but it recognises that our mission includes the donor.
Indeed, while it is important that we maintain a holistic understanding of the larger mission (both of God and of World Vision International), we must balance it with a practical realisation that the majority of our work in Australia relates to donors.
There is nothing wrong with describing World Vision Australia as “a fundraising organisation” (as long as we don’t think that is all there is).
There is nothing wrong with a primary focus on donor transformation, and being busy with donor education and advocacy (as long as we don’t think that is all there is).
Yes, our mission is to serve the poor.
Yes, our mission is to love and follow God into His mission in the world.
And Yes, we express our unique contribution to this grand and empowering mission, by being effective in donor development, fundraising and donor transformation.
Among other things!
And, by the way, we then have to ask, What is my department’s unique mission? and What is my unique mission?