A Simple House Mission Plan

 

      “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”  Luke 16:19-31

 

Immigration is a large domestic and international issue. The forces causing immigration are more dramatic than the domestic consequences. People are leaving their homeland, families, and communities because they do not see options for human development at home. The magnitude of the hardships and sacrifices they make to emigrate shows the seriousness of the situation.

The root problem is a crisis of human development in certain poor countries. If it is not adequately addressed, the story of the rich man and Lazarus will become a prophetic metaphor for wealthy countries with poor neighbors.

Pope Leo XIII started the call for social justice with his encyclical Rerum Novarum. Since then, the Church has made it clear that Christians must bring Jesus’ love to social problems. All social justice work should have healthy human development as the aim. Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have been pointing out problems with current development work and calling for a Catholic development work. This is the main focus of Pope Benedict’s Caritas in Veritate and Pope Francis’ Laudato Si.

             Summary of A Simple House in the States

        For over a decade, A Simple House (ASH) has been trying to discover the essence of missionary work in the context of the American inner city. We believe that the work of ASH is at the heart of the “new evangelization” even though it consists of nothing new or novel. Simple House missionaries:

  • live in solidarity with the poor;
  • develop friendship relationships and work through friendship
  • unite the corporeal and spiritual works of mercy.

 

The work of A Simple House is radical and timely because:

  • a professionalization of charitable work has hurt solidarity and loving friendship;
  • an unnatural division has occurred between the spiritual and corporeal works of mercy;
  • the poor and the rich have become geographically separated more than any point in human history;
  • evangelization has become too confused with one-shot ministry and proselytizing.

The plan is to start a foreign mission that brings the ASH model outside of the American inner city with one major change. Instead of uniting the corporeal works of mercy with the spiritual works of mercy, the foreign mission would unite authentic human development work with the spiritual works of mercy. In essence, it will unite the “development works of mercy” with the spiritual works of mercy.

True human development includes work and material development, but it is far more than these things. It must address psychological, social, familial, and spiritual factors in addition to the material. By only emphasizing economic development, current development projects often hurt the communities they propose to help.

In addition to helping people in poverty, this mission will be addressing a problem within the Church and within secular society. It will help the Church re- imagine mission work away from one-shot ministry and proselytizing. It will help society re-imagine development work away from mere economic growth. The mission will do this by uniting the spiritual works of mercy with the development works of mercy in order to pioneer a truly human development model.

 

             Pope Benedict called for entities that operate in the grey economy.

When we consider the issues involved in the relationship between business and ethics, as well as the evolution currently taking place in methods of production, it would appear that the traditionally valid distinction between profit-based companies and non-profit organizations can no longer do full justice to reality, or offer practical direction for the future. In recent decades a broad intermediate area has emerged between the two types of enterprise. It is made up of traditional companies which nonetheless subscribe to social aid agreements in support of underdeveloped countries, charitable foundations associated with individual companies, groups of companies oriented towards social welfare, and the diversified world of the so-called “civil economy” and the “economy of communion”. This is not merely a matter of a “third sector”, but of a broad new composite reality embracing the private and public spheres, one which does not exclude profit, but instead considers it a means for achieving human and social ends. Whether such companies distribute dividends or not, whether their juridical structure corresponds to one or other of the established forms, becomes secondary in relation to their willingness to view profit as a means of achieving the goal of a more humane market and society. It is to be hoped that these new kinds of enterprise will succeed in finding a suitable juridical and fiscal structure in every country. Without prejudice to the importance and the economic and social `benefits of the more traditional forms of business, they steer the system towards a clearer and more complete assumption of duties on the part of economic subjects. And not only that. The very plurality of institutional forms of business gives rise to a market which is not only more civilized but also more competitive.    Caritas in Veritate par 46

These entities are not mere NGOs or charities. They are for-profit companies that value more than profit. We propose to start a foreign mission focused upon true human development. This mission will be part Simple House and a new grey market entity, It will be Una Casa Simple de San Pablo y San Juan Diego (A Simple House of Sts. Paul and Juan Diego) and a (yet to be named) company.

The Proposal

Send a missionary family to a developing nation to pioneer a new vision of development work and evangelization. They will found a new ASH and a company. The two entities together will be the mission. The evangelization will be through the loving business, social, and church interactions of the missionaries. The development work will be through the for-profit company started with grants and loans from A Simple House.  A Simple House will begin fundraising for the new foreign mission.

 

Philosophy and Values of the New Mission

The new mission will adopt the values and philosophy of A Simple House as described in the ASH Missioner’s Manual. The following values will have special emphasis or application in the foreign mission.

Solidarity

Current missionary and development work is often short-term and privileged. These two factors diminish the loving witness of the work, and they do not give a meaningful witness to solidarity.

This project will strive to be long-term, and the key players involved in founding the mission will make a two-year commitment.

Missionaries will live in the same general conditions as the locals. This does not mean that missionaries will live in exactly the same conditions as the poorest of the poor, but they will live in conditions that do not give the impression of being extravagant or elitist.

The company will be a cooperative effort where the foreign missionary works alongside the locals. As much as possible, it will be a collegial environment honoring everyone’s input. In addition, the founding missionary will be paid by the for profit company no more than the highest paid local person employed by the company.

Subsidiarity

Even secular endeavors have started to understand the importance of subsidiarity in development work. The project needs to gather input from the people being served during the formation and execution of the project. Whenever possible, locals need to be given control of projects, and projects must not undercut the economic endeavors of locals through subsidy and “charity.”

Although the missionaries may be privately charitable, the mission will honor subsidiarity by focusing on profitable exchange. For example, the mission may need to purchase a truck. During harvest time, farmers may need to use the truck more than the mission. Instead of giving the services for free, the mission will charge enough to make a small profit. The mission will adhere to this principle in order to avoid creating an unsustainable dependency and to make sure the users do not waste the service. If the services were given away for free, it is improbable that true development work would take place.

Finally, the mission will try to develop the company so that it can continue even if the missionaries left.

Economic Development

This mission will try to enter a new economic field within the country’s economy. Instead of competing against a locally owned industry, the company will choose an industry that does not already exist within the country. Ideally, the company will produce something currently imported, export something new, or move up the value chain of something currently exported.

Total Human Development

The ministry work of A Simple House has been less effective with men. In the communities we serve, men need opportunities to work, and they need inspired to seize these opportunities. In our current model, we do not adequately address this issue.

In projects unrelated to A Simple House, Clark has worked alongside men from ministry while doing home renovations. Although it wasn’t always an economic success, this work created great ministry opportunities.

The foreign mission hopes to create jobs that provide meaningful work, a respectful work environment, and support families. The mission should build a workplace that lays a foundation where people can be enriched and self-actualize. If successful, these jobs should also create a certain amount of ambition and hope for the future. Whenever possible, missionaries should help the poor start their own businesses.

Love is the greatest agent of human development, and this love must be true love. True love requires justice, respect, and dignity. Work is an important part of human development, but it is not the only part of human development. The business will try not to overreach the proper roll of work in human development.

The New Evangelization

The new evangelization centers on “teaching the art of living.”1 The missionaries will witness through family life, personal life, work life, and involvement in the local parish. The business can employ people of different faiths and commitment levels, but the business will observe Catholic holidays and be a place of mutual respect and love. The missionaries will seek out evangelization opportunities by being involved in the local parish and community.

Sustainable Economics and Respect for the Environment

The business should be in a circular economy, or it should help a business industry become more circular. Pope Francis mentioned circular economics in his encyclical Laudato Si.

Our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard. [22]

In addition to the concept of circularity, the business should operate in a way that honors the earth as a common home. This means the mission will preserve the local environment and model environmental stewardship.

Logistics & Location

We plan to explore the feasibility of two target countries. The two locations receiving the most serious consideration are Honduras and Nicaragua. This exploration will involve two steps.

The first step is to collect information before visiting the country. Publicly available information about roads, cities, shipping ports, passport requirements, economic conditions, and current development work will be gathered. In addition, contact will be made with catholic missions and ex-pats already working in the country.

The second step is to visit the country. The visit will tour select cities, and an effort will be made to contact priests and local business people. Current missions, businesses, and people who responded to initial networking attempts may be visited. These visits will evaluate safety, locations for a mission, business opportunities, and try to form an initial plan for resettling the Eckstine family in the country.

 

1 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s “Address to Religion Teachers and Catechists” 12/12/2000. 4