It is important that Alongsiders are motivated by love and inspired (literally: filled by the Spirit of Christ) rather than by money or the promise of rewards or, more worryingly, shame, guilt or obligation. For this reason, we do not directly or indirectly pay or subsidise Alongsiders.
Orphans and vulnerable children desperately need love, and unconditional love cannot be bought, sold or generated, but must be chosen. The leadership of Alongsiders prays that God moves among the young people, talks to them about the good news in Christ and shares stories that will inspire them.
Look at the following contemporary parable through that lens:
'Once upon a time, there was an old man with a mango tree. He got tired of the local children stealing his mangoes, so one day he gathered them all together and said, 'I will give you all some money to pick my mangoes. The children said, 'This is great! We get to pick and eat his mangoes AND get paid for it!" The following year, the children came back and asked the man to do this again, but he said, 'No, I don't have any money for you.' The children replied, 'Well, if you are not going to pay us, then we refuse to pick your mangoes.' The man went back into his house smiling. His mangoes were safe again.'
At first, the children were motivated by their love of mangoes, but when the man started paying them, they became motivated by money instead. All too often, church ministries and mission organisations pay for or subsidise things that Christians should have done voluntarily. This may produce short-term results, but eventually leaders discover that they cannot get anyone to lead, serve or participate in a training meeting without being paid. Entire churches disappear when funding stops, and missionaries blame this on the local population.
Yet missionaries and development workers have trained people to think this way. Every year, short-term teams from abroad visit Cambodia. Some are well planned, others are poorly thought out. They may tour and visit local churches. They can preach and teach, and along the way they can initiate projects: wells, church buildings and classrooms. They can employ local people to manage the projects, and they can leave money to pay for materials, workers and managers. As a result, they have Cambodians lining up to 'serve' every year when they come. In addition, projects that local churches could do themselves are regularly stopped in the hope that next year's team will pay for them. Some projects initiated by these teams are done well at a fair price; others are done poorly because the managers do the minimum, pocket the fee and concentrate on writing brilliant reports. When all is said and done, there are too many empty buildings and demolished wells that were not really needed in the beginning. And the locals learn a transactional approach to service that goes like this: when you want to do a good deed, you find someone else to pay for it.
Inspired and led by the Spirit, Alongsiders are motivated by love and affection and can embrace a transformational approach to service rather than a transactional one. By participating in the work of the Spirit of God, Alongsiders experience life and joy, which motivates them to walk alongside a vulnerable child for many years.