In my most recent podcast, “Bringing the Gospel to the poorest nation on earth,” I interview Dr. Roger Chen, a missionary who works in Niger. Roger and his wife have two young children, and this prompted Ed Babinski to post the following comment:
“When does missionary work also become child endangerment? It seems Dr. Chen may be endangering the health and or well being of his wife and children.
“Doctors Without Borders don’t bring their wife and kids along.”
One point I should have made is to note that Mira Chen also works in Niger as an optometrist. So the question can be narrowed in the present case to two professionals serving in a developing nation and bringing their children in tow. That said, I nonetheless made the following reply:
“Let’s say that a brilliant young teacher foregoes job offers at lucrative prep schools to work at an inner city school in Detroit. Would you censure him for preventing his own children from having particular opportunities because of his desire to help the poor?”
Babinski offered another reply which included a restatement of the original question:
“WHEN, or AT WHAT POINT might not missionary work become child endangerment?”
This time around I decided to turn my response into a stand-alone article. And so, here we are.
Now on to my response. Babinski is clear on one risk, i.e. that which occurs from moving to a developing nation. Thus, he is concerned with risks like this:
Risk 1: Raising a child in Niamey, Niger, where they risk contracting malaria.
And that is a risk not to be taken lightly.
But let us not think raising our children in the developed world is without risk. For there are risks, some of them of which you may not even be aware. Like this:
Risk 2: Raise a child in Beverley Hills, California, where they risk contracting affluenza
Affluenza is a serious affliction, one which corrupts the mind into thinking the acquisition and consumption of material goods is existentially important for a fulfilled life. Those stricken with affluenza find shopping to be a leisure activity and structure their lives around the car they drive (BMW), the clothing they wear (Armani; Lululemon), the coffee they drink (Starbucks), and so on.
So which is worse? Would you rather put your child’s body at risk of contracting malaria or their soul at risk of contracting affluenza?