I loved this essay. I had a similar encounter while attending a multi-cultural, predominantly White church where missions were a part of the ministry experience. We did local and international missions. Once on a local mission in our county I encountered mom who had needs we could not meet. They were long term needs, and she basically didn’t want what we offered. We often do these folks a disservice by thinking we’re helping them. Poverty is a complex issues as you noted, and to be honest, most congregations aren’t interested in helping anyone get out of poverty. They are interested in replicating things Jesus supposedly did.
I stopped going to church a long time ago, but I came to the conclusion that missions trips and colonization are closely tied together. Studying Christianity and slavery in America turned me completely away from the religion. When we take up the mantra of White Christianity and go into Black and Brown countries, we continue practicing colonization whether we want to admit it or not. We take on White ways to pacify White guilt for destabilizing nearly every Black and Brown country on earth directly or indirectly.
No Black and Brown people should be doing missions in my opinion. We need to give back thoughtfully, intentionally, and with the motive of improving the quality of the beneficiaries lives long-term, not something that a kid or family will consume and poop out. We need to fall away from some of the things we’ve been taught. They are rooted in slavery. Do good because we want to, because we see a need, and because we desire to solve a problem systemically.
Missions and slavery (oppression and bondage) go hand in hand.