Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Go Inter

This is perhaps the most important dynamic that is affecting us here at The Location. It is not only affecting us or mission work in general, but it is affecting the entire society. It is what The People call "Go Inter." (Yes, they actually use this pseudo English term pronouncing it in a very accented way.)

Go Inter originates from the words "going international." Its meaning is leaving home and going away to see and experience the world. Sounds great, right? Sounds like those who Go Inter are broadening their horizons and becoming more well-rounded people, right? Well, it is more akin to Superman's "Up, up and away!" Go Inter means that people climb the ladder of success and then abandon their homes, families and all the issues here at The Location. But it is what virtually all the youth and students want to do.

I read an article about The Location recently that said that 70% of all The People who complete a bachelor's degree or above, leave The Location and go to work in another country. The Location is a poor country without a lot of opportunity for the educated. The problem is that those who are left behind are often ill-equipped to address the problems of the society--at least in comparison to those who have left to seek their personal fortunes.

It is probably difficult for someone from the West to understand the problematic nature of the Go Inter dynamic. It is a catch-22. Everyone is in favor of people bettering their lives. But in this case, the betterment of a few leaves the betterment of many behind.

This same Go Inter dynamic is affecting the local church, too. And many times missionaries only contribute to the effect. Young people are taught to speak English and then sent to study in the West. What happens to the vast majority of these people? Most of them never come back. Even those who are sent to study the Bible. The idea is that We'll send them to study the Bible in America and they can come back and lead their people. The only problem is that they rarely come back. And the few who do? Whoa! They are usually very big-headed, arrogant and throw their weight around. I've studied in America! And they usually only live a rich lifestyle in the capital city, wear nice clothes and stand in front of people at church trying to gather all the respect they can.

In general, those who have the intelligence and ability to leave, do. Those who don't have the intelligence and ability, stay. Those who stay become the ones who run things. There is a huge talent drain in both the church and society in general.

Go Inter is not just limited to people leaving The Location and going to other countries. The dynamic is present at all levels. People in the village want to move to town. People in town want to move to the city. People in city want to move to the capital. People in the capital want to travel to the neighboring country, and then, if possible, move to the West where life is full of wealth, opportunity and English.

We have found that even sending people to the city to study "ruins" them. It ruins them in the sense that they lose all desire to come back and use their knowledge to help the rest of their people in their home village, even if this is what they promised to do when they left. Sending people to the neighboring country is worse. Therefore, we have decided to take those we're training and bring them to the countryside. It is isn't where anyone wants to go. Those who refuse to live in the country (and we have plenty of people who refuse our discipleship program simply because it is not in town) opt out. Those who stay are the ones who aren't so tempted by Go Inter possibilities and who will end up more likely to stay to make a difference at The Location.

For this reason I am not a big fan of teaching English on the mission field. Now, I am not opposed to it. But more often than not it only helps people to Go Inter. Actually, I'm not even opposed to any individual Going Inter, per se. But as a foreign missionary, my goal is to see The Location reached with the gospel of Christ. I fully accept that nationals will be the ones who best accomplish this mission rather than just myself. So I seek to train and send nationals to reach their fellow countrymen (and women). Who will do this? It is frustrating when you have a promising disciple who you believe will end up being an apostle to The People, and then they get sucked in by "the good life" or by leaving to work in another country--all because of the abilities you helped impart to them so that they would do effective ministry.

I realize Go Inter is not going away. It is a fact of life here at The Location. Our challenge is to see what we can do, in spite of this, to build God's Kingdom.


  1. So how do address the reasons why people so desparately want to get away from The Place? How can you convince people to stay when everyone else has the goal of getting away? Has the prosperity gospel reached The Place? Sure sounds like it...

    But maybe I'm just projecting.

  2. Sorry Katdish... it's The Location. :-)

    I think it is a by-product of poverty and lack of opportunity. It is common for many other countries around the world that fit this same bill.

    It's not prosperity gospel so much because this dynamic is not limited to the church--it is society-wide. It is also one reason many are vulnerable to the sex trade.

    How do we convince people to stay? Well, I don't have the platform or resources to do it nation-wide, but with individuals we meet we do two things... disciple them and give those we can opportunities. We also try to encourage those who we don't hire to look to make opportunities of their own rather than looking on the outside. Mostly trying to get people to look at The Location as God looks at it. Helping people to have a mission for The Location that is the same as God's mission for The Location.

  3. Thanks for your comment on my blog, http://capturedbyGod.wordpress.com! I love the pictures on your site. They are beautiful!

    I think the key to this problem may be to teach followers of Christ to follow Christ! If they are truly devoted to God and listening to His voice, then they will obey Him. They will come back to The Location, if that is where He has called them, or go wherever He has sent them.

    Maybe we need to be taught first to fall in love with God. When we are in love, we will do anything for that Person. We almost can't not do it. We would go anywhere for Him. We go because our greated desire becomes to please and obey Him. Just a thought!

    Blessings! Jenny