What Missionaries Ought to Know about Bribes

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What Missionaries Ought to know… does not mean that the author sat down and decided what missionaries ought to know, but that missionaries themselves asked about these topics. During the author’s 35 years of college teaching he learned that if one person asks a question, others probably want to know the same thing—and if two people ask, it was certainly a topic that others need to know about. These are things missionaries need to know because several missionaries have asked about each of them at one time or another.

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Little about missionaries and bribes is readily available on-line, in printed periodicals, or in published books. The Bible is not silent on the issue of bribery, but Christians have written little about it. Missionaries living in countries where bribery is common discuss it among themselves, but only a few have put their thoughts in writing.

Most mission agencies have no policy or guidelines about bribery. Therefore, missionaries have to make decisions about bribes on their own or with the advice of a few colleagues in the absence of much relevant thinking and information.

What is a “bribe”?

Two definitions of “bribe” are nearly always given in English. One is “anything given to people to persuade them to do something they would not ordinarily do. ”The other definition is “anything given to people in authority to persuade them to do something wrong. ”

People working cross-culturally may pay transactional bribes in which they give officials money to do what those officials should do without payment. Those same people may pay variance bribes in which they get people to do something illegal…

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