New podcast episode skewers white saviour complex
A recent podcast serves as a reminder of the dangers of ‘white saviour complex’ on the mission field.
Bradon French, VicTas Synod’s Intergenerational Youth Ministry Coordinator, recently dropped a special episode of his long-running podcast that is a little different to his usual efforts.
Guest starring Steve ‘Molk’ Molkentin, Synod of NSW and ACT’s Pulse Senior Field Officer (North), this new edition of the Work Experience podcast uses the formula of US history/comedy podcast The Dollop to explore the awful recent history of US missionary Renee Bach in the episode Toxic Youth Ministry, White Saviours and Renee Bach.
During her ministry in Uganda, Ms Bach, who has no medical training, started an NGO. During this time, it is alleged that she acted as a doctor. The result was a botched mission that led to deaths and wider criticism about ‘white saviour’ complex.
The Dollop’s format involves one host, Dave Anthony, telling the other host, Gareth Reyonlds, a true story from history. The podcast serves to capturing their reactions and gives them a forum to tell jokes and anecdotes.
Mr French told Insights that the podcast was intended to be an entertaining way of addressing a serious issue.
“Molk and I are both podcast producers and listeners, and both fans of The Dollop,” he said.
“I stumbled across the story of Renee Bach via the Insta channel @NoWhiteSaviours as the BLM movement gained prominence in June.”
“I was challenged by the story, as I can look at some of my experiences and ideas when I was younger.”
Mr French decided reading the story to an unawares Molk (which he called “our poor Dollop attempt”) would raise awareness of the very tragic story, “which itself is no doubt representative of many similar stories.”
“Certain aspects of the story are funny, some are tragic, some leave you breathless, others angry,” he said.
“I believe the story is important, as if we allow it, it raises significant questions about how we understand mission/exposure trips, which for so long have been significant aspects of youth ministry plans, and perhaps more importantly how we talk about race and difference within our ministries. We must also consider how we hear the voice of God in community.”
Mr French said that listener feedback so far has been “reluctantly positive””.
“The story is troubling and confronting, however we cannot be naïve to what we might learn from it,” he said.
“It’s important we hear these stories. I have been tempted to open a confessional to allow listeners to share their own regrettable experiences – perhaps it’s cathartic.”
“Whilst this was a bonus episode in the middle of a focussed season on intergenerational ministry, we will revisit some of these themes in our next season, again seeking to hear voices and stories which can shape a healthier approach to ministry with young people.”