The Reform of Intercultural Generosity

The Bridgely Declaration

We, as leaders representing internationally connected nonprofits, mission agencies and churches, believe that it is time to radically transform cross-cultural charity and mission.

Intercultural relationships can heal the world. Effective generosity, the type that liberates and builds capacity, is needed. But the current approaches are falling far short of their potential to do good — and sometimes they cause harm.

Despite decades of progress against poverty, the world remains grievously fractured: Some children surf TikTok while others die from dirty water. Hundreds of millions of people in abject poverty struggle to survive – unable to meet basic needs. Poverty statistics are too familiar.

  • 1 in 10 people in the world 1 live in extreme poverty and make less than $1.90 per day.
  • One out of five children live in extreme poverty, and the negative effects of poverty and deprivation in the early years have ramifications that can last a lifetime. 2
  • More than 700 million people, or 10 percent of the world’s population, still live in extreme poverty today, struggling to fulfill the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation. 3
  • One in every three global human trafficking victims is a child. 4
  • Globally, up to 1 billion children ages 2-17 have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year. 5
  • In 2020 there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria worldwide and 627,000 estimated deaths. 6
  • 785 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 144 million people who are dependent on surface water.7
  • An estimated 1.8 billion people do not have quality essential health services. A large proportion of preventable maternal, childhood, and neonatal deaths occur in these settings.8
  • Despite the steady rise in literacy rates over the past 50 years, there are still 773 million illiterate adults around the world, most of whom are women.9
  • 100 million youth around the world lack basic literacy skills.10
  • There are an estimated 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. 81% of them are trapped in forced labor, 75% are women and girls, and 1 in 4 victims of human trafficking are children.11
  • 71% of trafficking victims around the world are women and girls, and 29% are men and boys.12
  • 2.37 billion people face moderate or severe food insecurity. Half are in Asia, one-third are in Africa, and 11 percent are in Latin America and the Caribbean.13
  • Between 720 and 811 million people in the world face hunger.14
  • Nearly one in three people in the world did not have access to adequate food in 2020 – that’s an increase of almost 320 million people in just one year.15

1Source: World Bank: https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/poverty-and-shared-prosperity

2Source: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/

3Source: Goal 1: End Poverty in All Its Forms Everywhere — United Nations Sustainable Development.” United Nations Sustainable Development, https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/

4Source: Chapter 3, https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/tip/2021/GLOTiP_2020_15jan_web.pdf

5Source: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-children

6Source: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malaria

7Source: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water

8Source: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/quality-health-services

9Source: http://uis.unesco.org/en/topic/literacy

10Source: https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/ild-2021-fact-sheet.pdf

11https://www.ilo.org/global/publications/books/WCMS_575479/lang--en/index.htm

12Source: ILO

13Source: https://www.fao.org/3/cb4474en/online/cb4474en.html#chapter-2_1

14Source: https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/food

15Source: https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/food

Everyone is aware, but so few take effective action. Tens of millions of people from wealthier countries have traveled cross-culturally for humanitarian or missional purposes. Three-quarters of them claim that those experiences were “life-changing.” People give, but what is the result?

Cross-border generosity results in $68 billion per year (excluding U.S. government aid (ODA), remittances and private investments) and is operationalized by thousands of nonprofit organizations. Child sponsorship connects millions of donors with millions of children, mobilizing $3.5-5 billion per year.

¹Global Philanthropy Environment Index. https://globalindices.iupui.edu/tracker/themes/index.html

Sadly, cross-cultural charity and mission have a checkered past. Cultural imperialism often hides in the guise of mission, foisting ideologies of the economically dominant culture upon vulnerable people. Work to help “the poor” is riddled with unintended consequences, and often undermines the dignity and initiative of the people it aims to serve. Cross-cultural travel is sometimes marked by hero narratives instead of humility. Government foreign aid is derailed by corruption, and international nonprofits struggle with inefficiency. But these criticisms are not new.

  • Failure to appreciate local assets and capacities
  • Failure to discover the local vision, initiative or instill local ownership
  • Displacing or undermining local producers/businesses
  • Creating dependencies and lack of sustainability
  • Reinforcing “marred identities” (the poor as needy victims; the rich as benevolent heroes)
  • Turning “the poor” into products, especially children in child sponsorship
  • Lack of monitoring, evaluation or learning systems
  • Subordination of local community to foreign, money-powered agendas
  • Nonprofit inefficiency, bureaucracy and thus low yield of value to the “beneficiaries”
  • Pandering to a hero narrative, accommodating the pride of the non-poor
  • Lack of accountability and/or transparency
  • Failure to listen to those we claim to serve

²White Man’s Burden, Dead Aid, Walking with the Poor, When Helping Hurts, Toxic Charity, Amateurs without Borders

Generous and good people have been sufficiently chastised for their “toxic charity,” and the well-intended have been warned that their helping sometimes hurts. The critiques of cross-cultural generosity are necessary, but so are solutions. It is not enough to lambast mission trips as poverty tourism and point the wagging finger of expertise at the “amateurs without borders.” It is time for solutions.

Despite the choppy history, we affirm the beauty of intercultural relationships and their power to change lives. Although charity may become toxic, it is still a virtue when done well. Helping people in need is a central commitment of Christian faith.

Faith without deeds is dead.

Faith without love is nothing.

The command to love our neighbor is a command.

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:15-17, NIV).

… if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2b-3, NIV).

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’, and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37, NIV)

If our love for the vulnerable is sincere, if we want to see the marginalized gain access, or those struggling in extreme poverty uplifted, then we must be driven by the question,

“Where is the path to restoration?”

Vulnerable and economically poor people need the leaders of nonprofit and missional organizations to be innovators. Leaders with system-disrupting courage. Leaders who are willing to reinvent their organizations and transfer power to the communities they exist to serve.

True empowerment, not just rhetoric but self-sacrificing action, trusts others with key decisions. Most international development or mission organizations evolved into layers of structure, system and process to operate as go-betweens, as bridges connecting a world of donors to a world of need. But the old bridges are decaying, heavy with cost and crumbling at their philosophical foundations. The world today presents new possibilities for light, clean, agile and localized bridges.

We commit to honor the principles of this Declaration to empower local communities. We invite you to join us and help create an inclusive disruption.

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Bambang Budijanto
Indonesia
Asia Evangelical Alliance | General Secretary/CEO
Josh Chamale
Guatemala
UNUM International | Executive Director & Founder
Daniel Rolfe
United States
Mountain Springs Church | Senior Pastor
John Awodi
Uganda
Diocese of Kampala Church of Uganda | Reverend Canon
Ricardo Toyditz Cosico Jr.
Philippines
OneChild | Regional Program Manager
Chad Blansit
United States
Destiny Church | Lead Pastor
Chip Mattingly
United States
Mountain Springs Church | Mission & Outreach Pastor
Dhan Raj Ghimire
Nepal
Karuna Care International | Executive Director
Diana Durrill
United States
Flatirons Academy | Global Outreach Director
Doug Miller
United States
Plum Creek Church | Lead Pastor
Christy Duncan
United States
New Life Church | Global Outreach Pastor
Elsa Miranda
Central America
OneChild | Regional Program Support Manager, Latin America & The Caribbean
George Bagamuhunda
Uganda
Church of Uganda
Hapi Wanje
Kenya
OneChild | Regional Program Support Manager, Africa
Heather Neely
United States
Bridgely | Co-Founder
Emily Sarmiento
United States
John Witkop
United States
Bethel Lutheran Church | Lead Pastor
Erica Lauren Henderson
United States
Bridgley | Program Impact & Learning Curator
John DeYoung
United States
Water for All | President
John D. Scott
United States
Celebration Church | Child Sponsorship Director
Manette Cosico
Philippines
OneChild | Country Director, Philippines
Mark Yeadon
United States
Ripple Effects Coaching | CEO, Lead Coach
Lareau Anderson
US-Global
Biblica | Sr. Director
Tyson Presnell
United States
Hope International | Director of Strategy and Innovation
Mike Durrill
United States
Restoration Gateway | Executive Director
Wolf Riedner
United States
OneChild | Global Program Director
Dr. Kenneth Harder
United States
The Dynamis Group
Jerry Miner
USA-Pakistan
The Cross Connecting Network | Founder
Jason Bentley
United States
WaterVue Church | Lead Pastor
Mary Kamau
Kenya / USA
Missions of Hope International | Executive Director
Bonnie Belzer
United States
OneChild | National Director of Engagement
Bob Cleary
United States
Orphan Network | CEO
Scott C. Todd
United States
OneChild | President
Dr. Deborah Hancox
South Africa
Micah Global
David Synder
United States
Sustainable Medical Missions | Executive Director
Brendan O'Leary
United States
Operation Blessing | Program Analyst
Christian Marin
United States
4Africa | International Program Officer
Karen Fancher
United States
Multnomah University | Professor of Global Development and Justice Studies
Craig Deall
Zimbabwe
Foundations for Farming | CEO
Sandeep Maity
United States
OneChild | National Director of Development
Sam Voorhies
United States
Voorhies International Consulting | President / CEO
Dr. Jacob Kitonsa
United States
OneChild | Global Program Vice President
Akanjuna Gaddie
Uganda
C.O.U Diocese of Kigezi | Bishop
James Otundo
Kenya
Wold Hope International | Child Champion
Ty Van Rensburg
United States
OneChild | Vice President of Global Engagement
Paul Masaba Kiptoo
Uganda
Diocese of Sebei | Bishop
William James Sebagala
Uganda
Church of Uganda | Bishop
George Turyasingura
Uganda
COU Diocese of East Ruwenzori | Bishop
Alfred Olwa
Uganda
Diocese of Lango | Bishop
James Grout
United States
OneChild | Engagement Lead
Dave Higgins
United States
Julius Siya Aliwa
Uganda
Sebei Diocese Church of Uganda
Daniel Scarberry
United States
Cross Connecting Network | Board Member
Paul John Mosoontu
Kenya
OneChild Kenya
Marlen Debroy
Guatemala
DAR la Trinidad | Program Director
Yves Dushime
USA
ICM | Development Officer
Christne Jangwen
Uganda
Jangwen Foundation | Founder & Executive Director
Anan Udtama
Thailand
A21 Foundation | Company Manager
Mr. Drake Naturinda
Uganda
Diocese of Kigezi
Ikwarit Francis Charles
Uganda
EL-Elyon Child Transformation Uganda (ECHITU) | Founder & Director
Terry West
USA
Equipping Leaders Global | Founder & CEO
Anan Udtama
Thailand
A21 Foundation | Country Manager
Kishor Shahi
Nepal
The Timothy initiative & National Youth commission | Treasurer
Mark Luckey
United States
Every Child Ministries | Executive Director
Abraham Sahu
India
The Full Gospel Trust of India | National Director
Rev. Albert Ketor
Ghana
LifeAhead Vision Ministries | General Secretary
Rev. Abraham Sahu
India
The Full Gospel Trust of India | National Director
Jessica Arooj
Pakistan
Pakistan Sunday School Ministries | Media Manger
Dr. Raza Rubab
Pakistan
Pakistan Sunday School Ministries | Administrator
Jit Kumar Gharti
Nepal
Jeevan Path Nepal
Shilpa Shinde
India
Seva Social Welfare Foundation | CEO
Joseph Mayala Mitinje
Tanzania
African Inland Church Tanzania | Board Chairman
Emmanuel Mbennah
Tanzania
HATUA Development Trust | National Director
Josh Geisinger
El Salvador
La Red | Director of Partnerships
Leanna Summers
USA
OneChild | Director, Digital Marketing and Content Strategy