Putting Band-Aids on Problems
The familiar Band-Aid has been applied to many a skinned knee, but these days it’s used more often to make a point than to cover a scrape. Any problem-solving discussion will include a reference to limited or short-term aims with the scornful label, “a Band-Aid solution.”
It should be stated clearly: delivering a box of food to a family in need is a Band-Aid solution. Charis Ministries leaves untouched many obstacles that people face, and offers only limited and temporary assistance. Yet, we are still satisfied with this approach. Here’s why…
Many times, a Band-Aid is exactly what you need. It protects an injury, so the body can heal with its own resources; it guards against infection; a Band-Aid cushions, so a sensitive cut finger doesn’t keep you from getting back to work. Applying a Band-Aid is easy, costing a fraction of the time and money of a trip to the hospital. In the same way, a simple box of food may be the best response when a family’s refrigerator breaks down and its contents spoil; when a new landlord or a new prescription requires new fees; when illness and unpaid holidays cut into hourly wages.
For a serious wound, Band-Aids help only until discarded at the clinic; or they may be cosmetic, merely covering the stitches. Band-Aids play a minor role; yet ‘minor’ isn't the same as ‘inconsequential.’ An immediate, short-term need is still a need. So, a parent who finds a job has taken a giant step forward – but even if work starts today, it's two or three weeks before a paycheck. A family leaving the shelter for a new home needs to eat as soon as they settle in. Long-term solutions like a steady job and a good home are far-reaching goals – yet food is still needed at the outset.
It’s healthy to challenge the notion that short-term difficulties should always be treated as symptoms of something deeper – deficiency in character, lack of education or effort, governmental ineptitude or corporate greed. This assumption ignores situations in which simple, straightforward assistance is adequate. Worse, it neuters our compassionate instincts, tempting us to suppress our desire to help personally, in favor of deferring to “experts” managing long-term programs with limited capacity and massive expense.
No doubt there is wisdom in the proverb that teaching a man to fish is better than giving him one. Yet, Jesus – nobody’s fool, and certainly committed to long-term change – didn't instruct us to counsel or train the hungry: He said to feed them. Charis Ministries is committed to assisting people as they marshal their own resources for restoring their family’s well-being. We are committed to preventing the stress of hunger from infecting people’s best efforts; to easing their pain as they carry on with the task at hand.
Charis Ministries is a Band-Aid Solution.