NPR recently published a thoughtful piece by Abraar Karan, a physician who has worked in global health for his career. The piece reflected on what the coronavirus pandemic had revealed about the sorts of partnerships that characterize global health work between the West and the global South. While the piece is about secular global health work, the moral issues that Karan raises are worth considering as United Methodists and other Christians re-think mission partnerships in a pandemic altered-world. Karan's critique is best captured in the following passage:
"The work that we [Americans and Europeans] do in global health is often done at our convenience – if for any reason we opt not to go, impoverished countries and communities must continue the work either way. The work that to some of us is more academic is a matter of survival for residents of those communities. ...
"Ultimately, some part of the U.S. and European participation in global health is just that: participation rather than equal partnership. Yet the power dynamics have for centuries leaned heavily and falsely toward the Western entity as the commanding leader— or more accurately, the brutal colonizer."
Substitute the term "mission" for "global health" in the above passages and contemplate what the import of this insight is for international mission partnerships.