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Each month, the World Next Door team tries to
help you out with the stuff we know a lot about.
Travel, social justice, photojournalism –
We can help with it all.

Do you have any good travel apps that you would recommend?

– Lisa

Absolutely, I do! I am always on the lookout for new apps to make traveling the world even more of an adventure. Here are some of my favorites:

Google Translate

Google Translate (Free) – This app is literally magic. Yes, literally. Speak any phrase into it in one language and it instantly spits out a translation into one of 60+ other languages. It will even speak the translation aloud for many of them. Highly recommended!

kayak icon

Kayak (Free) – This app has a really great flight tracker. Enter in your upcoming flights and see gate info, departure times and delays. Now, when you find yourself running through the airport in a dead panic, you’ll know why.

World Fact Book

World Factbook 2013 ($0.99) – This is an extremely useful app if you ever find yourself wondering what the primary exports of Namibia are (diamonds, copper and gold, apparently). It’s got reliable info on every country you can think of, plus offline maps!

XE Currency

XE Currency (Free) – There are many currency conversion apps out there, but this is one of the highest rated. Type in an amount in the local currency and find out how much you’re being ripped off by in US dollars!


Skype (Free) – A standard part of any world-traveler’s life (at least, any world traveler who wants to stay in his mom’s good graces). Hop on wi-fi and you can video chat with your family and friends back home. It also lets you make very cheap calls to cell-phones in the US. Super handy!

Got any other app suggestions? Let me know!

-Barry Rodriguez

Why should we help third world countries instead of helping those in need here?  Why send our money elsewhere?  We have sex trafficking in America, too.

– Julie

Hi, what a good question!

You’re absolutely right.  Needs and injustices like sex-trafficking occur right here in our own backyard, and if you feel called to support and extend your resources to ministries here working towards those issues, DO IT!  There are many advantages of taking action locally: you can see it, it’s local and accessible in your daily or weekly life, you can build long-term relationships, and you’re addressing the needs of your own country.

However, helping those in need right here and helping people in developing countries don’t have to be mutually exclusive. One thing that’s true about many foreign countries is that money goes a lot farther! And while it’s true that there are injustices here, social services are typically available and accessible, and unlike many developing countries, we have a justice system in place.

The bottom line is, not everyone has the same passion or physical ability to up and go somewhere else. While it’s not for everyone, my personal reason is simply: I’m able and I want to. While both places need help, I believe God puts different passions into the hearts of different people to provide for needs everywhere. I guess my heart is just bent this way.

-Brooke Hartman

What do you see mission based organizations doing wrong?

– Steve 

This is an important question, and I wish it was harder to come up with an answer. The fact is, I see non-profits and missions organizations doing more harm than good all the time.


When Helping Hurts

It all comes down to posture. As Americans, we tend to be do-ers, not learners. Culturally, we are a nation of problem solvers, engineers, and innovators, so it’s very easy for us to come in guns blazing with all the “solutions” to the problems of the developing world. We create a one-size-fits-all widget to provide clean water or electricity or education and expect it to take root immediately.

Here’s a book I strongly recommend on this topic: When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett

More often than not, however, that “solution” ends up creating dependencies, undercutting local businesses, or even perpetuating deeper injustices than the one it was originally created to alleviate!

What we need is a posture of learning, servanthood, and partnership. We need to be asking questions, not providing answers. We need to see the people we’re helping as better than ourselves, not simply as helpless victims. Finally, we need to commit to partnering with indigenous leaders, even when they don’t have our worldview, values and timetable.

By working to solve local problems with local solutions and local leaders and by serving with a posture of humility, we can bring our skills and gifts and expertise to bear without doing more harm than good.

-Barry Rodriguez