The Historical Impact of Christian Missions on International Development and its Effects on Contemporary Practices
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This research thesis focuses on the connections between Christian mission work and international development across time. The fundamental problem this study addresses is not as much a problem as it is a question: does helping hurt? Historically, religion has had an outstanding ability to motivate a group of people to cause social change, a fickle and bipolar activity but undoubtedly something desperately needed by many impoverished nations around the globe. Moreover, the Christian faith places tremendous value on giving to the needy and helping the poor, activities which are demonstrated and taught by Jesus in the New Testament. However, the world is not the same as it was when these noble teachings of Jesus were spoken. As time has progressed, modernization and globalization have changed the dynamics of international development and missions alike, and the values of generosity and compassion previously credited to faith became visible to and sought after by the world at large. This global shift begs the questions, does faith still have a place in international development? Does the faith element of faith-based humanitarian aid motivate positive change, or does it delay it? Could the work done by faith-based organizations be done as quickly or effectively if the faith element was taken away? These are some of the questions addressed in this thesis. There is no developmental formula that will solve every problem of every country, so this study cannot propose to thoroughly justify or condemn any one organization, country, or religion; however, by understanding this issue, the institutions that make decisions regarding international development, religious or not, will have a clearer understanding of how their motivations and objectives affect the progress and quality of international development.
Davis, John Truman (2016). The Historical Impact of Christian Missions on International Development and its Effects on Contemporary Practices. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from