Modus Operandi: Defining Our Approach

Posted by Staff | January 22, 2013  |  No Comment

Modus operandi is a Latin phrase meaning “method of operation”. The term is used to describe an organizations habits or method of working or functioning. Here is a brief description of some aspects of Interhopes M.O., that is, our operational approach to missions.

We favor indigenous missionaries rather than American missionaries wherever possible.

When cost, cultural effectiveness, and average term of service are measured a well-trained indigenous missionary can reach more people, stay longer, and accomplish more for a small fraction of the cost of sending Americans into foreign fields. Of course these are generalities and exceptions are common. Americans called to mission are needed in certain parts of the world where the indigenous church is very small or where they possess a specialized skill-set. In the case of Interhope, we are blessed to have invested in ministries of dozens of indigenous missionary families who have reached tens of thousands for Christ.

american missionary cost*There are still certain fields where American leadership is needed due to the lack of specialized skills or a viable national church.

We favor long-term missions rather than short-term teams.

We seek to develop long-term missional communities that will remain in place and grow over the course of decades. Although we enthusiastically acknowledge the value of short-term mission trips for the purpose of pilgrimage or discovery, we concentrate our efforts on strengthening our growing field churches and orphanages to effectively minister to their own people. Some long-term missionaries cannot publicly admit that they must host American teams because donors often cannot commit without a personal visit.  We encourage churches to seek the advice of veteran missionaries or indigenous church leaders when developing their outreach programs. A couple of short-term trips each year are no substitute for more lasting and substantial mission activity. We applaud those organizations that focus on short-term discovery teams and especially those that serve within the United States, but must stress that this is only a small part of God’s dynamic purpose in foreign missions.

short term teams

* All foreign countries have experienced carpenters and tradesmen who need work and can do renovations for less than the cost of a single international plane ticket. They need work and have families to feed. Sometimes they are employed to “fix” the work done by well-meaning, but poorly skilled short-termers.

We favor national rather than international solutions.

support profile

We seek to develop mission sites (orphanages, churches, etc) which will eventually receive at least 80% of their support from local, in-country sources. Each of our mission sites is working toward this goal. Some have exceeded the goal while others are far from it due to the extreme poverty or small size of local churches. Virtually all other mission organizations have a support profile that sends endless funding from the USA to their field sites. We believe this is unsustainable and ethically questionable. If at all possible, the people of India or Cambodia or Bosnia should
participate in the support of their own Orphans, we believe. Local churches thrive
and some of our kids even get adopted when the local field church embraces these

We favor a decentralized organizational structure.

We seek to decentralize our administration. For example, each of our orphanages and their ancillary, in-country offices constitute a charitable organization with legal status in their own country. Many of our most effective personnel have never visited the US or even ventured outside of their home countries. This means that Interhope is actually a cluster of organizations each with its own staff, office, and budget. This decentralized structure is significantly more efficient than maintaining a sizable headquarters in the US because of the reduction of paper-work and overhead expenses. Training of new staff members takes place in the field and recent advances in technology allow us to hold face-to-face staff meetings with leaders in seven countries through online, real-time video-phones at minimal cost. This has revolutionized the management, reporting, and accountability structures of our field sites.

We favor simplicity and frugality.

If a thing can be done for less, we do it for less. If a used item will suffice, we buy used. If any steps can be taken to stretch the limited resources available to God’s mission then we take those steps. Our missionaries, staff, and leadership practice simplicity because it reflects our commitment to give as much as we possibly can of our time, talent, and treasure to reach the least and the lost. Waste is our great enemy and we seek it out wherever it can be found. What informs and inspires this frugality? It is the knowledge that so many abandoned children are well within our reach, but our limited resources prevent us from saving them. Seeing the many children in crisis that we are unable to reach is the hardest part of our mission, by far.


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