Christian Non-Profit Providing Disaster Relief, Development And Charity For Weary Bodies And Thirsty Souls

Thirsty Ground International

Thirsty Ground International Operating Principles

Our organizational decisions and operating principles must always be rooted in the Bible. The Scriptures will inform our approach to serving the poor and needy, as well as clarifying priorities for both temporal and eternal needs.

Jesus helped the poor and needy during His ministry on earth because they were poor and needy, and not entirely because He knew they would listen to Him or even become His followers. His compassion to all people regardless of spiritual condition or response was to the glory of His Father. He would heal 10 knowing that only one would return to give thanks and believe. We seek to follow in the path of Jesus and help the poor and needy because they are such, and because we discern this to be God’s will for Christians to pursue. This means we will help all people in need in a disaster situation, regardless of religious background. We will not provide aid exclusively to Christians in an affected community but will seek to help all those in legitimate need in the same community to the extent of our available resources. We will work with Christians in the affected community as a witness to help them help their neighbors, but please see point 7 for more details on that. 

Thirsty Ground International first began in 2013 as a response to the overwhelming catastrophe of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. This was a situation where the magnitude of destruction and need overwhelmed both governmental, NGO and local church capacity to respond. This precedent has continued to this day for weighing any TGI response to a global catastrophe. Whether we respond for 3 months or 8 years, we will only respond where we feel we are not duplicating or supplanting local response efforts but supplementing and augmenting them due to the profound scale of need.

It is a well-documented criticism that some modern approaches to volunteer-based relief and development can at times harm local communities instead of helping as intended. Examples abound. The volunteer church group that comes to build a foundation for a community center while local tradesmen look on angrily, wondering why they aren’t being employed to do this work instead. The well-intentioned aid group that imports a shipping container full of medicines to freely distribute to the sick, while unintentionally driving local pharmacies out of business who can’t compete with free. To the fullest extent possible, we will seek to pursue relief and development methods that build up and benefit local community stakeholders. If we need medicines, we will buy them locally from a pharmacy when possible. If we need food, clothes or fuel in bulk, we will buy them from grocers or traders in the community. If we build or repair structures, we will seek to employ local tradesmen, and so on.

Disaster response situations can be tricky to transition out of. During the initial phase of a disaster, almost everyone affected is legitimately in need regardless of their past economic status. The rich and poor alike may lose houses, money, food stores, etc… and equally be in need in the immediate aftermath. TGI has often responded to disasters within the first weeks or days of an event, and operated in these equalizing-phases of a disaster. As a disaster response turns into the rebuilding and development phase, past dependencies must be reduced, and long-term projects that are sustainable and oriented to benefit the community must be implemented. This has a positive and negative aspect. The positive aspect is focusing on projects that assist with rebuilding livelihoods sustainably. The negative aspect is reducing direct aid distributions of material goods like food, medicine, clothing, etc… As we transition to reducing community dependency, we will also be careful to still help those truly in need due to circumstances beyond or exacerbated by the initial disaster. This may include continuing to provide direct aid to families of the handicapped or disabled, widows in the community, the isolated elderly that cannot work and have no extended family helping them, or temporarily those driven to extreme poverty by secondary circumstances related to the effects of the initial disaster.

Certain disaster responses by TGI in the past did not extend beyond an initial relief and direct-aid phase. In situations where TGI remains on the ground long-term to transition with a community into a rebuild/development phase, TGI will seek to focus on projects supporting those in the community to pursue meaningful and independent work. This can take the form of supporting education for K-12 students so that they can learn in order to work upon graduation. This can take the form of sponsoring qualified individuals with vocational/technical training to be certified on a skill. This can take the form of grass-roots initiatives such as teaching impoverished women to sew and helping them to sell their goods. This can also take the form of business grants to qualified local individuals wanting to start their own venture. This also includes implementing charitable development projects that provide work to locals with a pathway to eventual project sustainability when local economic conditions recover.

TGI helps the poor and needy internationally. This often puts TGI volunteers in communities where we have no initial presence, and where we may have no lasting presence after ending a disaster response. Because our work is ultimately done for God’s glory, we desire a lasting witness for Him in any affected community we help, and this is primarily accomplished through on-the-ground partnership with existing local Evangelical churches. We seek to use TGI assets and expertise to help existing local evangelical churches caught up in a disaster to be able to respond in a helpful and tangible way to their own community. We do not seek to duplicate existing local efforts or compete. Instead, in our partnership we can understand where they are able and willing to work themselves, where we can help to enhance their local church response to enable them to do more to help, and where we can extend a response with TGI volunteers and resources to areas they do not have staffing or funds to reach themselves.

We seek to provide relief for weary bodies and thirsty souls. We understand that the needs of people extend beyond the immediate physical demands of food, water, shelter, warmth, medicine, work, etc… Spiritual needs must be met as well as physical needs. Our volunteers will not hesitate to employ a verbal and visible witness in the course of helping the poor and needy, while avoiding situations where such a witness could be perceived as coercive. We will share the reason for the hope within us, the cause for the compassion freely shown to those in need, and the love of Christ with those we serve.

TGI donations go directly to funding relief, development and charity operations. We do not provide financial support or pay salary to full or part time volunteers with TGI, including our director. Everyone involved in serving abroad with TGI are volunteers responsible to secure their own funding personally and directly. What this means is that all donations to TGI go directly to supporting TGI operations for relief, education and development projects.

We will seek God first in prayer for the financial needs of TGI. We will bring present and pressing needs first to God as individuals and a team and wait to see Him provide in the time and manner of His choosing. If our account gets close to $0 and needs are pressing upon us (which happens often!), we will seek to raise up prayer instead of raising alarm to our supporters. By God’s grace we have been enabled to continue operating TGI for over 10 years along this principle. Some may be familiar with this idea exemplified in modern times by men like George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, etc… We seek to follow their general example as best as we have faith to do so.

This does mean we will generally avoid direct and specific financial appeals or “pressure” campaigns via e-mail, newsletter, social media or other means that intend to secure a greater portion of donations TGI from supporters via our own efforts. When financial challenges mount, our aim is for prayers to mount up as well first and foremost to God.

This does not mean that in certain situations we will not make general needs or situations known publicly. It does not mean we will “hide” opportunities for people to help directly when they ask us. An example of where we have made a general need and opportunity for people to help publicly known is the EAP sponsorship program after requests from people for more specific details on this need to be made available.

This does mean that we do not pursue governmental (UN, WFP, USAID, etc…) grants or financing for our organization. We wish to remain unbounded by the constraints some of these grant agreements can take. We also want to rest in faith in the certainty of God’s provision via the uncertain method of waiting for direct donations from private individuals to come to TGI.


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