You have an amazing capacity to resolve problems. Now it’s a great thing about Americans; the ability to innovate and to resolve problems. The downside of that is that when you come to our context, you don’t know how to live with our problems. you see our poverty. You see our need. You see the places we’re hurting. And you have a great compassion to come and solve us, but life can’t be solved that way. Many times well-intentioned Americans will come into our context and they try to fix my life. You can’t fix my life! What I need is a brother who comes and gives me a shoulder to cry on and gives me a space to express my pain, but doesn’t try to fix me. When Jesus comes into the world he does not try to fix all the poverty, all the sickness, all the need, the political situation. He allows that to be, but he speaks grace and he speaks salvation and redemption within that context because there is a greater hope than this life itself. Now this tendency to fix it has become a real issue so that some of the reserve we feel as Africans or as two-third worlders is so many people have come to fix us that O’ Lord, please don’t bring another person to fix us. We have been fixed so many times we are in a real mess now. Please allow us to be us. Allow us to find God and to find faith in the reality of our need.
Pastor Oscar Muriu from Mission’s Dilemma, quoted in We Are Not the Hero by Jean Johnson (p.12).
I suspect that these remarks are true of Western mission practice in general, not just Americans.