Auditing Through Teaching

Dave Andrews

Catchim says ‘the Auditor incorporate(s) “criticizing” people, when they feel they go “off-script”, with clearly “verbalizing” their criticism’ through their teaching


Sometime back I was asked to take a one-day seminar for one of the most highly-regarded Christian aid and development agencies in the world. I decided I would use the opportunity to help audit their so-called ‘Christian aid and development’.


When the staff assembled I asked them to imagine they were a group of people considering their aid and development strategy in the light of their mission philosophy. I asked them to imagine some of them were church leaders, some were a missionary committee, some were a missionary society, and some were prospective missionaries who wanted to work in a Christian aid and development agency. And I asked them to consider the radical mission strategy demonstrated in a controversial case study I was going to present to them from the perspective of church leaders, missionary committees, missionary societies, and prospective missionaries interested in Christian aid and development.


I told them that some of them might be familiar with this famous study, and I had changed some names so they wouldn’t readily identify it, and they could all face the issues raised for them by this controversial case study afresh.


I set the case study in a country I called ‘Khuda-i-stan’.


I told them Khuda-i-stan was politically repressive. It was under the yoke of a colonial regime that was ruthless. It had a central government that regularly cut provincial insurgents to pieces. Hence political opposition was systematically destroyed


I told them Khuda-i-stan was economically: impoverished. It had an underdeveloped agrarian economy. Land was its main capital base, and most land was owned by a few wealthy families. Those of that were poor, struggled to pay 40% of their income in taxes, so many sold their land to the few wealthy families to pay the tax and so became landless, struggling to survive.


I told them Khuda-i-stan was socially oppressive. It had a rigid caste system, with a few high caste, a few more low caste, but many more total outcaste. The elite maintained traditional status by collaboration with colonialists, while the masses had no traditional status at all and the colonialists and their collaborators couldn’t have cared less about them or their welfare.


I told them Khuda-i-stan was religiously conservative. The majority of the population had very dogmatic beliefs. People worshipped in mandirs. Priests offered pujar to their deity. Religious traditions supported the status quo – the political repression, the economic impoverishment and the social oppression. It was by all accounts very anti-Christian.


I then told them about the mission strategy a man, I called ‘Mac’, had adopted to engage the oppression, impoverishment and repression in ‘Khuda-i-stan’.


Mac began by seeking to develop some basic credibility with the people.


Mac went to a village and worked in a local manufacturing industry. He spent years there just being part of village life and using his trade in his village. Over time he learnt the language, spoke to his neighbours, listened to their stories and came to appreciate the plight of the many marginalised in the village. The people came to appreciate Mac because he was compassionate and responsible – willing to work hard, with a wonderful sense of humour.


Mac then tried to demonstrate the practical relevance of the ‘gospel’


Mac wanted to show the people the relevance of his faith to their life. He demonstrated ‘good news’ firstly, through ‘aid’ – giving food to the hungry; secondly, through ‘education’ – encouraging the rich to share their wealth with the poor; thirdly, through ‘direct action’ – staging a protest against exploitation at the stock-exchange; fourthly, through ‘development’ – organizing a viable credit co-operative; fifthly, through ‘transformation’ – empowering people to adopt co-operation as the model for collaboration in ordinary everyday life.


Mac then, after some time, disclosed the glorious secret of the ‘gospel’


Mac did not tell the people to start with that he was a ‘Christian’. Not only because they were ‘anti-Christian’, but also because they misunderstood the meaning of ‘Christianity’. He wanted to re-define the meaning of ‘Christianity’ in their experience of transformation before he told them of the ‘Christ’.


In answer to the questions people asked, Mac began to gradually disclose the secret of the faith he had shown that was so relevant to their life. The response to what he shared was amazing. Thousands joined him, and he organized them into hundreds of home groups all over the country.


But the authorities felt threatened by this mass movement of self managed community groups. And it wasn’t long before they accused Mac of being a member of the K. L. F. (Khuda-i-stan Liberation Front) and had him shot.


I divided the staff into four types of groups:

  • a group of ‘church leaders’,
  • a ‘church missionary committee’,
  • an ‘interchurch missionary society’, and
  • a group of ‘prospective missionaries interested in aid and development’


Then I asked them to discuss the case study and answer the following questions from the perspective of each of these groups they were in:-


  • What were the strengths and weaknesses of Mac’s strategy?
  • How relevant do they think Mac’s strategy is to missions today?
  • Would you encourage people to adopt Mac’s strategy or not?


After the groups had spent a considerable time discussing the case study and answering the questions, I invited the groups to give me their feedback. All of the groups thought Mac’s humble, vulnerable, culturally sensitive, bottom-up approach was a real strength of his strategy. But the church leaders, missionary committees, and interchurch missionary societies thought that Mac’s unwillingness to be up front from the start about his being a ‘Christian’ was a real weakness in his strategy. And all the groups, especially the prospective missionaries interested in aid and development, thought that Mac’s staging of a public protest against exploitation at the stock exchange was the most serious weakness in his strategy. After all, it had got him killed!


We then went on to have a discussion about the relevance of Mac’s strategy. Not surprisingly, all the groups thought his personal approach was admirable, but his political approach, openly opposing the system, was dangerous.


All the groups said they would not encourage anyone to adopt Mac’s strategy.


Then I said, how tragic is this, that, in spite of our claims to being ‘Christian’, when given a choice, a gathering of church leaders, missionary committees, interchurch missionary societies and prospective missionaries interested in aid and development, would deliberately reject the mission strategy of Mac-who-is-Christ!


I then asked them, what would we need to change, individually and institutionally, to be open to the high-risk, high-return mission strategy of Christ-who-is-Mac?

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