He spoke about dignity. And about how we, in our efforts to help, to bring aide, to transform a community, often rob the recipients of dignity.
We do this by refusing to come alongside in humility and by assuming that we know the "fix" regardless of the culture or opinions of the ones we are ministering to.
An example he gave was of a church that came into his village to build a latrine where there had previously been none. Their efforts were efficient, their design flawless. Flawless except for the fact that they had failed to consult with the villagers about their culture and their desires on the placement of the latrine and more importantly, the door.
The latrine, built with skilled hands and professional tools, was placed adjacent to the playground and common area where all the village gathered - the door facing all the people.
For this village, for there culture, it was extremely undignified to be seen walking in and out of a latrine so, after the workers left, feeling satisfied that they had been a blessing, the villagers simply continued to go into the bush to use the restroom.
Being paternalistic means to treat someone in a fatherly manner, instead of a peer, especially in providing for their needs.
It's SO EASY to do this. To come in to a community or a situation and think we have the answers and ours are inherantly right. We're efficient, we're educated, we're seasoned, and we've read lots and lots of books.
But, without humility, we can strip away the dignity from those we come to serve, to uphold, to encourage.
Thank you, Victor, for this gentle reminder - and for coming alongside all those within earshot of you that afternoon, and in humility, asking that we become humble.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.