Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sending in the Clowns

clowns Researchers from the University of Sheffield recently polled 250 patients aged between four and 16 for ideas how to improve the decor of hospital children's wards. What they discovered surprised them (but not those of us who have had kids in the hospital).

Kids hate clowns! All 250 patients who were quizzed indicated that they disliked the use of clowns in the hospital. Even the older ones found them scary.

Commenting on the study to Reuters, Penny Curtis, a senior lecturer in research at the university said, "As adults we make assumptions about what works for children.”

Exactly! How often don’t we make assumptions for others based on our own presuppositions, values, likes and dislikes. This even happens in ministry to the persecuted. Western ministries cut funding to programs that persecuted Christians find valuable because the national Christians don't want to use material published by the supporting organization.  Other programs are started that have little or no local support because these are the kinds of programs that the western supporting ministry or its leaders are particularly fond of or easier to raise money for.

One of the values of The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada is that of respect; serving the Persecuted Church according to their wishes, aspirations, and needs, and not according to our own predetermined strategies. I won’t pretend that this is something that is easy to maintain; we all have preferences, strategies that have worked elsewhere, and it takes discipline not to push these on national believers, even gently, in our planning of projects. It is only later that we learn that some of our well-intentioned projects were really clowns.

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